Londontown Archeological Excavation and Park: Egdgewater, Maryland

February 5, 2005

Ahhhhhhhh. Winter in the tropics so so wonderful. It was 53 degrees and sunny in the DC area today, so Laura and I put on our boots because of the inevitable mud, and headed off for a weekend outing. This weekends trip was to the small town of Edgewater, Maryland -- Home of the Londontown Archeological Excavation and Historic Park.

William Brown House

History runs deep in this part of Maryland. The land is originally surveyed and purchased by William Burgess in 1658. By the 1680s, Londontown is created as one of 31 points of entry in the colonies for trade. It's location on the South River, within eyeshot of the Chesapeake bay make it a prime location for such a use. For a brief time in the late 1600s, Londontown is the county seat for Anne Arundel County, Maryland. In 1695, Annapolis (4 miles to the north) is named the capitol of Maryland and also the county seat for Anne Arundel County.

Excavation site with the William Brown House in the distance.

Scott Street: Old roads in the area have been severly eroded so they're now gulleys.

 

Londontown continued to thrive as a port town for some time after. It was an important transportation center for people moving goods and travelling up and down the eastern seaboard. At one point there were many ferry boat services that carried people and goods across the South River on their way north and south. Along with this ferry service sprang up other businesses that catered to folks who were waiting for the next boat across the river.

More views of the historical excavation

Enough with the archeology shots already, eh? ;)

In 1729 the city of Baltimore is founded and a lot of trade moves to the west. This takes business away from Londontown and begins its decline. The Tobacco Inspection Acts of 1747 further this decline by eliminating the somewhat illegal advantage that smaller port towns like Londontown had. For a long time, people could build right on the river and ship their goods directly off their property without having to take it to a port and thus could avoid a lot of the taxes and duties placed on such exports. A lot of commerce took place in that manner for many years before the Brittish cracked down on the practice.

These are rebuilt period buildings. They're part of the educational exhibits.

Gardens in the historical area.

Another look at the historical buildings.

Oddly enough, a wealthy man by the name of William Brown built the magnificent mantion that you see in many of these photos well after the decline of Londontown, Maryland. No-one really knows why he built such an impreassive home on this site -- using a style of brickwork that emphasized his wealth (laying the bricks so the small end faces out, thus necessitating the use of many more bricks). With the town already on its way out, he continued to run the ferry business and helped keep the tavern going. He had a large workshop for himself. He was the 1700s equivolent of a general contractor in many ways. He was credited with building some of the more impressive buildings of the time in that area -- many of which looked like his own home. The home was never completed in his lifetime. He went broke and moved on without finishing it.

The William Brown House

During the Revolutionary War, Many of the colonies records were stored in this home for safe keeping. The building and land were purchased by Anne Arundel county in 1828 and used as a home for poor and mentally ill people until 1965 when the treatment of the poor and mentally disabled was legally improved.

 

A good look at the brickwork. It is beautiful

The land and home became a public park in the late 1960s and was completely renovated in the 1970s. Since that time there has been an ongoing excavation of the site to better understand the history of the land and people.

 

A final look at the house.

Possbly the highlight of this trip was the gardens. They've been cultivated extensively since the 1960s. The witner garden was particularly nice this time of year.

Winter Camelias

Frozen winter camelia blooms

Two that hadn't frozen yet

They turn brown when frozen, but still look beautiful

Looking down the lane in the gardens

Laura posing for me. :)

This tree was particularly spectacular.

The new visitor's center under construction

A wonderful place for lunch in Edgewater, Maryland. We'll head back when it is open again. It was closed for the season.

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