Anne Arundel County Inventory of Historic Properties
Preserving our heritage is a vital link to our cultural, educational, aesthetic, inspirational, and economic legacies - all of the things that quite literally make us who we are.
|Preservation Highlights in the County: The Wilson Farmstead of Galesville, Before & After|
|The Wilson Farmhouse was nearly lost in the late 2000s due to decades of neglect. The County and local community groups joined forces to preserve this once dilapidated building because of its importance to African-American heritage in Anne Arundel County. Henry Wilson, a manumitted slave, acquired 26.5 acres on the outskirts of the village of Galesville, soon after the Civil War. By 1870 he built what was at the time a stately house, stylistically on par with his white neighbors in Galesville. Wilson was a highly significant person to the County for his role as community leader to the African-American community, many who were recently freed slaves, who built their homes and business along nearby West Benning Road. At first glance, this building was a dilapidated eyesore, but the story it can tell, now that it has been preserved, makes the County and its citizens richer for that heritage.|
The Anne Arundel County Inventory of Historic Properties (AAIHP) informally began in the 1960s, when the National Historic Preservation Act was passed. It has grown over the years to include over 2,000 structures and nearly 1,600 archaeological sites. The AAIHP today consists of “properties listed on the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties, the National Register of Historic Places, and the National Register of Historic Landmarks.” § 17-1-101. (17) Historic resources on Anne Arundel County Inventory possess many or all of the following characteristics: they are generally more than 50 years old, are representative of an important event, chapter, or era in the County’s history, are associated with the lives of historically significant persons, have historically significant architectural value, or are capable of yielding information important to the County’s history or prehistory.
While inclusion on the Inventory triggers a review by the Cultural Resources Division under the provisions of the County code whenever the County receives a permit application for development, in order for a site to be protected, the staff evaluates each property or historic district to determine if it is historically significant and should be “retained and preserved.” A property over 50 years of age with the potential for historic significance can be considered for the County Inventory, but only after the professional staff in Planning and Zoning evaluates a given property and determines that it retains its historic integrity, structural integrity, and has the ability to convey historic significance will preservation be required. This evaluation procedure is conducted by the CRD staff, both of whom exceed the federally mandated Professional Qualifications Standards for historic preservation and archeology, found in 36 CFR Part 61.
As per § 17-6-501 of the County code, staff makes its professional recommendations to the Planning and Zoning Director based upon their extensive experience researching and interpreting Anne Arundel County’s history and archaeology. If the Planning and Zoning Officer finds that the building can be retained and preserved, the CRD staff works closely with property owners and developers to achieve a positive preservation outcome
Below is a listing of the properties currently in the Anne Arundel County Inventory, which includes individual historic structures and historic districts. Note that archaeological sites, also considered part of the inventory are not listed for public view. Donna Ware’s book, Anne Arundel’s Legacy: The Historic Properties of Anne Arundel County (1990), was the first published list of the County’s Inventory of Historic Places and focused on the fancier high-style buildings in the County. The list has continued to grow and evolve over the past 25 years, and the list today represents a broad range of our heritage, even simple slave cabins or tenant houses. If you have questions about the Inventory or want to learn more, please contact our office!
- How is a property evaluated for Historic Significance?
Evaluating historic significance relies upon accepted professional standards and best practices, and while locally determined, are very similar to those criteria used to evaluate National Register. In Anne Arundel County, we consider if the historic resources contributes to the public’s understanding of the history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, and/or culture of our shared history. County staff goes to great efforts to ensure that all heritage stories are fairly represented. While preservation of a stately brick mansion from the 18th Century is easily understood by the lay public, there are often places that are valuable for other reasons.
The following four criteria are used Nationwide to evaluate an historic property and place it in its historic context. Here in Anne Arundel County, we apply these ideas to our local stories and sites.
- Event(s): The property is associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of County history;
- Person(s): The property is associated with the lives of significant persons who are important in County history;
- Design/Construction: The property embodies distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or that represents the work of a master, or that possesses high artistic values, or that represents a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction; or;
- Information potential: The property has yielded or may be likely to yield information important in history or prehistory, as in an archaeological site.