2018 will be a hard year to beat for Preservation Maryland. Thanks to the generous support of our donors, we have supported preservation at hundreds of sites across the state.

From the marshy wetlands of Dorchester County to the rugged foothills of Garrett County – it has been a banner year for preservation in Maryland. Moving forward, our job is to sustain this accelerated pace of impacts – and find new and sustainable ways to continue to grow. We are simply not content with keeping pace or holding our ground.

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Together, here’s what we accomplished in 2018 and what we have planned for the year ahead:

Investing Donor Dollars in Tangible Projects

We’re not just talking about preservation – with your support, we’re doing it. Donor generosity in 2018 allowed us to distribute nearly $150,000 in grants to deserving projects all around the state. These grants stretched geographically from Allegany to Dorchester County and provided funding to support the preservation of resources as diverse as a threatened Skipjack to roof repairs for our friends in Friendsville.

Read about all of our 2018 Heritage Fund success stories here.

Taking a Stand for Places that Matter

This year, the need for an advocacy organization like Preservation Maryland became abundantly clear on two distinct occasions:

In July, the National Trust for Historic Preservation identified two sites in Maryland as some of the most endangered historic places in America; the Annapolis National Landmark District and the Maryland viewshed of George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Both were threatened by ill-advised development – and Preservation Maryland sprang into action – supporting our national and local partners and rallying our supporters to speak out on behalf of these iconic places. The advocacy pressure generated in Charles County – where Mount Vernon’s viewshed lies – caused Dominon Energy to abandon their plans which would have marred the viewshed; a stunning turn of events and a major preservation victory.

In Annapolis, the proposed rezoning of the waterfront to allow for large-scale development has not been entirely scuttled, but Preservation Maryland’s joint-advocacy on that issue has generated significant local opposition and brought the mayor back to the negotiating table.

If these two advocacy efforts weren’t enough, the organization was again called upon in late August when Howard County officials announced an alarming plan that would decimate the Ellicott City historic district – bringing down nearly two dozen buildings in an effort to reduce flooding in the town. Experts agreed the demolitions would do little, if anything, to stem major flooding and as a result, Preservation Maryland led the opposition, releasing a statement and special report that was shared thousands of times. Preservation Maryland then commissioned a third party engineering review which found that flood-mitigation strategies had “not been
fully vetted by Howard County.”

In addition to the engineering review, Preservation Maryland also engaged Mason-Dixon Polling to conduct a poll of likely Howard County voters to determine public opinion on the demolition plan. Not surprisingly, the overwhelming majority of citizens in Howard County opposed the plan and 74 percent supported alternatives to demolition. The results of the poll created yet another stir in the community – and helped to further reframe the discussion.

Then, on Tuesday, November 6th, voters in Howard County went to the polls – and elected an entirely new county council and a new county executive. As a non-partisan organization, Preservation Maryland watched from the sidelines as the flood plan became a major campaign issue. The results of this election give new hope to the preservation community in light of Howard County Executive-elect Calvin Ball’s recent statement that his administration will “take time to evaluate all plans in progress for effectiveness and efficiency…and make a decision from there.”

Unquestionably, this will be a difficult and complex task, but Preservation Maryland stands ready to assist Howard County and the new Ball Administration in this effort. Complex problems rarely are solved by simple solutions. Ellicott City deserves a thoughtful and sophisticated planning process – and we are hopeful that process will now begin anew.

Legislative Advocacy Results in Landmark Legislation

With the support of our donors, Preservation Maryland set out to get things done in Annapolis. As a result of those efforts we were able to accomplish the following:

  • Increased funding for state heritage areas from $3 million to $6 million
  • Increased funding to Program Open Space by $67 million (we chaired the Partners for Open Space Coalition – a first for historic preservationists!)
  • Passed first-of-its-kind legislation providing an additional 5% historic tax credit to rehab projects that also result in affordable housing
  • Increased funding to the state’s preservation survey and research grant program by 50%

And, in accomplishing all of this, we are building a bigger, broader and more diverse preservation coalition. We’re not just talking about legislation, we’re getting it passed!

Six-to-Fix Projects Making Big Differences: From Battlefields to Suffrage

Maryland’s historic resources are as diverse as its people. For a statewide preservation group, one of our most important jobs is to work with local leaders and organizations to help find ways to save that history when it becomes threatened. Over the past year, we’ve continued to invest in our dynamic Six-to-Fix projects – and the results are really showing:

  • South Mountain Battlefield, Frederick County: With the support of numerous funders and donor dollars, we’ve led a major planning effort to help guide future preservation and interpretation of the often overlooked battlefield. A final report will outline the steps necessary to preserve more land and increase visitation.
  • Dielman Inn, Carroll County: With the pro-bono support of Streetsense, Lewis Contractors, and Old Line Architects, we were able to provide the Town of New Windsor a full assessment of the building and evaluate its reuse potential. It’s a framework that’s setting the stage for the rehab and reuse of a once-forlorn inn.
  • Women’s Suffrage History in Maryland: With a grant from the Maryland Historical Trust, Preservation Maryland is leading a statewide effort to document and celebrate the history of the suffrage movement in the state. In coming months, a lecture series and traveling exhibit designed by the organization will debut as we approach the 100th anniversary of women earning the right to the ballot.

These three projects barely scratch the surface of a year’s worth of work – work that was made entirely possible by donor support.

Learn about the rest of Preservation Maryland’s dynamic Six-to-Fix projects here.

Connecting Smart Growth and Preservation: New Ways to Save

The past year also saw Preservation Maryland grow programmatically, when after many months of careful deliberation and planning, the organization absorbed the operations of 1000 Friends of Maryland and launched Smart Growth Maryland, a program of Preservation Maryland. The new program, which follows in the footsteps of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s ReUrbanism effort, is a carefully coordinated and strategically focused effort to link smart growth and historic preservation in Maryland.

Preservation is Smart Growth – but without good planning we can never hope to revitalize our state’s historic communities. The experience of Ellicott City, a historic community literally flooded by poor planning, is a stunning example of why this campaign is needed. Staff of the Smart Growth Maryland campaign is currently engaged in organizing and leading local smart growth coalitions in Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles and Frederick Counties – providing Preservation Maryland with a field operation that we could have only previously dreamt about.

Learn more about Smart Growth Maryland here.

A Major Year Ahead & We Need Your Support

2018 was a banner year for Preservation Maryland. In the year ahead we have several major initiatives planned, and we are counting on your support:

  • Campaign for Historic Trades: Preservation Maryland was selected by the National Park Service to serve as the official charitable partner of the National Historic Preservation Training Center, which is headquartered in Frederick, Maryland. In this capacity, we will be launching the Campaign for Historic Trades with a goal of expanding the Center’s existing preservation trades’ apprenticeship program. You’ll be hearing much more about this in the coming months – but this is a major step forward to connect preservation and workforce development.
  • Historic Property Redevelopment Program: This program has taken several years to fully prepare, but we’re optimistic we’ll be in a position to launch a pilot program in the year ahead. Our goal is to purchase options on threatened historic properties – and utilize our network to find preservation minded buyers. It’s a model based on wildly successful programs in Charleston, Savannah and North Carolina – and we’re eager to get it rolling in Maryland.
  • Rural Maryland Outreach Effort: Following up on our publication of Revitalizing Rural Maryland, a first-of-its-kind resource, we’re ready to roll up our sleeves and get back into the field in 2019 with a series of pop-up offices, rural redevelopment finance workshops and trainings focused on the new Opportunity Zone program.

And, in addition to these new efforts, we’re continuing to support and expand our existing programs and campaigns which include providing grants to deserving projects, saving threatened history at Six-to-Fix projects, drafting and passing critical legislation and advocating for threatened history.

None of this work is possible without your support. There are many causes and organizations vying for your assistance this time of the year. For me, when deciding on where to give, I try to ask the following questions:

  • Is it urgent?
  • Is it compelling?
  • Is the organization prepared to act?

We hope this year-in-review update has answered those questions – and we hope you’ll support Preservation Maryland by making a year-end gift to support our work.

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Thank you!