Preservation Maryland convened dozens of volunteers at the historic Mt. Hope Baptist Church in Charles County this October for a volunteer workday addressing church history, cemetery conservation, archaeology, and historic preservation projects.

Building on a year-long Six-to-Fix partnership with the Coalition to Protect Maryland Burial Sites, the goal of the workday was to work with the congregation to begin a comprehensive assessment of the Church property and early family property that includes several structures and burials sites within the historic cultural landscape.

The workday was coordinated in part by Rev. Ruby Thomas and graciously hosted by the congregation of Mt. Hope Baptist Church. Volunteers from the congregation and community, and the Coalition to Protect Maryland Burial Sites, the Association for Preservation Technology International, and regional archaeology groups joined professionals from the Charles County Government, Mosko Cemetery Monument Services, Grunley Construction, and WJE Engineers.

The volunteer work centered primarily around five major project areas:
  • Interviews and oral histories conducted by and with congregants and descendants
  • Cataloging and mapping burials in the Mt. Hope Baptist Cemetery
  • Cemetery monument conservation demonstrations for continued maintenance and care
  • Architectural documentation of an early family farmhouse dating to the mid-19th century
  • Archaeological survey of an early unmarked community cemetery for recordation by Charles County

All of the work products of the day were coordinated with the congregation and will become part of their archive and maintenance plans. When appropriate, documentation will be shared with County officials for future planning or regional historical societies for educational access.


Mount Hope Baptist Church is the site of the oldest Baptist African American congregation in Charles County. Established in 1867 by Rev. A. A. Watts, it was the founding church for three other African American Baptist communities including Oak Grove in Nanjemoy, Pleasant Grove in Marbury, and Little Zion in Hilltop, all located in western Charles County. The site includes a 1941 chapel, a cemetery established in the late 19th century, and an early 20th century schoolhouse. Together they reflect the emergence of African American communities after the Civil War and the importance of religion and education in that evolution.

Additional CHURCH History