Summer 2022 Newsletter

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Maryland Historical Trust

Each quarter, we deliver the news you need to keep up to date on our preservation programs. Sign up here to join our mailing list!

Competitive Commercial Tax Credits

The Maryland Historic Revitalization Tax Credit Program is accepting FY23 applications for competitive commercial projects. Owners of income-producing properties have the opportunity to earn a state income tax credit (capped at $5 million) equal to 20 percent of eligible expenses for substantial rehabilitation projects. Applications are due by August 31, 2022. To learn more, please visit our web page.


Don't Miss Out! Grants Deadline Closing Soon

The African American Heritage Preservation Program - administered as a partnership between MHT and the Maryland Commission on African American History and Cultureprovides grants to assist in the preservation of buildings, sites, or communities of historical and cultural importance to the African American experience in Maryland. Applications are due July 1, 2022To apply or learn more, please visit the program web page.  


Robert Coggin and the Fight for LGBTQ Rights

By Nell Ziehl, Chief of the Office of Planning, Education and Outreach (MHT), based on the work of Eric Griffitts and Alyssa Stein, EHT Traceries

Born in Danville, Virginia, in 1951, Robert Coggin left the conservative household of his youth to attend the University of Virginia, where he co-founded the Gay Student Union in 1972. Upon graduation with a Bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies, Coggin returned to Danville and remained active in local gay and lesbian organizations, including the Southeastern Conference of Lesbians and Gay Men.  

By 1980, Coggin left Danville and relocated to the Washington, DC metro area, where he soon met his partner of thirteen years, Don Crisostomo, at the Eagle Bar, a long-running gay establishment. Crisostomo and Coggin moved into Crisostomo’s apartment at the Battery Garden Apartments in Bethesda, and Coggin obtained a job with the National Institute of Health. As he settled into the area, Coggin became more involved in local activism, including the Gay Activities Alliance (GAA) of Washington, DC, where he helped find local candidates supportive of gay and lesbian rights. 


Robert Coggin. Credit: National Institutes of Health

Because suburban Maryland did not have any political organizations dedicated to gay rights in the early 1980s, the gay and lesbian community organized primarily through the efforts of GAA, and protections were limited. Howard County was the only local jurisdiction that extended legal protections through its anti-discrimination legislation passed in 1975. Without legal protections, gay men, lesbians, and other members of the LGBTQ community were forced to hide their sexual orientation or risk losing their jobs, access to housing, and other basic rights to livelihood and liberty.


Robert Coggin's house in Silver Spring. Photo courtesy of the Montgomery County Planning Department.

Considered a key founder of the local LGBTQ rights movement, Coggin played an important role in advancing rights throughout the state, but particularly in Montgomery County. He formed the local Suburban Maryland Gay Alliance (SMGA) in 1982, which became the Suburban Maryland Lesbian/Gay Alliance in 1984. Under Coggin’s leadership, SMGA became the first group to successfully organize and advocate on behalf of the gay and lesbian community in Montgomery County, and Coggin himself advocated for and helped secure the inclusion of sexual orientation as a protected class in the county’s anti-discrimination code in 1984. This landmark legislation ultimately allowed the LGBTQ community to grow and flourish and encouraged acceptance of LGBTQ people within the broader community. It also laid the groundwork for future legislation that included marriage equality in the state of Maryland in 2013.


Coggin in his backyard for a Montgomery Men's Group event (2010s). Photo courtesy of Karl Debus-Lopez and Tanner Wray, via the Montgomery County Planning Department.

In 1988, Coggin and Crisostomo bought a modest Cape Cod in Silver Spring at 4509 Bennion Road, where they became increasingly involved in social groups, including a DC-area gay couples’ group. Coggin and Crisostomo ended their thirteen-year relationship in 1993, but Coggin continued to live in the house and remained involved in gay and lesbian organizations, even hosting social events. Coggin continued to work for NIH until 2000 and retired on disability due to hereditary myotonic muscular dystrophy, which contributed to his death in 2014.

With funding through the Certified Local Government Program, administered by MHT and the National Park Service, the Montgomery County Planning Department is documenting Robert Coggin’s house in Silver Spring for future inclusion of the National Register of Historic Places. This effort builds on Maryland’s LGBTQ historic context study - one of only two statewide LGBTQ context studies in the country - undertaken through a partnership of Preservation Maryland, MHT, and local jurisdictions including Montgomery County. If listed, the property would be the first in Montgomery County to be so honored for its association with LGBTQ history. Happy Pride!

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Baltimore's Chinatown by Nicole Diehlmann, RK&K (Guest Blog) 

Architectural Survey on Smith Island by Allison Luthern, Architectural Survey Administrator

Ground Truth: Recent Investigations by Zac Singer, MHT Research Archaeologist

3D Visualization for Archaeology and Open Educational Resources by Chris Givan (JPPM Digital Education Coordinator) and Noah Boone (JPPM Digital Education Content Developer)