The seasonal opening of the Public Archaeology Program at the Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum is today, Tuesday, May 10th, and day 10 of Preservation Month. The Park, colloquially known as JefPat, includes 560 acres along the Patuxent River in Calvert County and boasts over 65 archaeological sites documenting over 9,000 years of human history.

The oldest archaeological evidence of humans on the Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum site was dated to 7500BC. Shallow pits, used by Native Americans to cook oysters, have been dated to 1070AD.  And just upriver from the property, is where the Patuxent Indians first encountered Captain John Smith in 1608.  The breadth of history covered by the site is truly fascinating.  Yet despite over 25 years of excavations, less than one percent of the property has been explored by museum archaeologists.

Discoveries have allowed archaeologists and historians to piece together how the land differed in the past and how people lived on the land, what they ate, what they cultivated, how their economy functioned, and what goods they produced. Certain archaeological discoveries have even enabled the Museum to recreate an Indian Village, the Indian Village was constructed in 2007 to commemorate the 400-year anniversary of Captain John Smith’s exploration of the Chesapeake Bay.

Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum is also connected to Maryland’s colonial and post-colonial history, the War of 1812, and the experience of enslaved and free African Americans. Originally, the site was the private property of Jefferson Patterson, a career U.S. diplomat, and his wife, Mary Marvin Patterson. The property was donated to the State of Maryland in 1983 in memory of her husband and was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places by the Maryland Historical Trust. As a museum, the JefPat site has served as a means by which to preserve Maryland’s cultural resources and connect the public to the past through history and archaeology.


Starting today and running until Saturday, July 2nd, the Public Archaeology Program provides the opportunity for the public to engage with Maryland’s past for FREE through hands-on activities either in the field or in the laboratory. Click here for more information or contact Ed Chaney at 410-586-8554 or to register.

The feature photo above is a rendering of the original King’s Reach complex on the Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum site, courtesy of their website.  Our Preservation Month posts were written and prepared by Rachel Rettaliata, one of Preservation Maryland’s Waxter Interns. Rachel’s work with us focuses on communications and advocacy. She is a Fulbright Scholar, and will be attending the historic preservation program at the University of Maryland this fall. Learn more about Rachel and our intern program here: