About Cultural Resources
Anne Arundel County is progressive in that it recognizes historic structures, roads and landscapes, and archaeological sites as resources that require protection, just like natural resources, such as farmland, wetlands, bogs, and shorelines. Preservation of our heritage safeguards the County’s historic and cultural resources, which in turn stabilizes and improves property values, fosters civic pride, protects and enhances the County’s resources for citizens and visitors, serve as a stimulus to economic development, and ultimately strengthens the economy of the County. Such sites - once destroyed - cannot be replaced.
- Article 17 RegulationsArticle 17, section 501-504 is the primary regulatory tool that authorizes Anne Arundel County’s cultural resources staff to review site development activities for potential adverse effects on archaeological sites, historic structures, cemeteries, and scenic and historic roads. The program also reviews demolition permits, telecommunication towers, and State community development block grants projects. Cultural Resources staff coordinates preservation projects throughout the County and with other County Agencies, assists and implements special projects and grants, participates in the Section 106 review process with the Maryland State Historic Preservation Office, as required by federal law, and maintains GIS data on the cultural resources within the County.The Cultural Resources Section(CRS) utilizes professional consultants to support its regulatory mandates and programmatic goals. Consultants may provide County staff with reports on resource identification, survey, documentation, and evaluation, studies which ultimately support development and compliance review as required under Article 17 of the County Code. Cultural resources staff and consultants may conduct site visits and undertake pertinent research to ensure development decisions are based upon current information. This research includes identifying, evaluating and documenting previously unrecorded historic resources throughout the County.The CRS also fields citizen inquiries, offers educational outreach opportunities, (including hands on archaeology programming at Anne Arundel County parks and internship/ volunteer opportunities,) and provides advice and guidance for local non-profit preservation groups working to preserve sites in the County. Discover how to get involved and help preserve Anne Arundel County’s past.The CRS staff provides technical guidance and support for non-profits throughout the County, many of which are working to protect and preserve historic resources. This support includes a partnership with the Lost Towns Project, a non-profit that invites citizens to learn about the County's history and archaeology firsthand as “hands on” volunteers.
- Anne Arundel County's Cultural Resources Section, in partnership with Anne Arundel Public Libraries, the Anne Arundel County Trust for Preservation, Inc., and the Lost Towns Project, is also host to the Joan Cass Beck special library collections. Research collections are located in both the Cultural Resources Division Office and in the County Archaeology Lab. This non-circulating collection contains over a thousand research resources on local historic preservation and archaeology. Visit the Joan Cass Beck Special Collection of the Anne Arundel County Public Library.
- General Development PlanIn order to protect and preserve the historic and archaeological heritage of the County, the CRS team continues working on these broad policies. The adopted General Development Plan (2009) details the County’s commitment to historic preservation as an important component of Community Preservation and Enhancement.
- Develop stronger incentives to encourage preservation and institute meaningful deterrents to prevent destruction of historic resource;
- Strengthen land use policies and regulations to promote and enable cultural resources protection;
- Improve inter-agency coordination at the local and State level to enhance preservation efforts on public lands; and
- Enhance public education and community engagement to promote stewardship of historic resources County-wide.
- Site Development Review ProcessWhen development is proposed for a property in Anne Arundel County, it is subject to the requirements found in Article 17, Section 6, Subtitle 501 through 504. The Cultural Resources team includes professional archaeologists and architectural historians. The team consults computer models and databases, as well as pertinent documents, historic maps, and other historic documentation to determine if there is a recorded historic structure, site, or cemetery in the project area, or if there is a high potential for the presences of previous undiscovered cemeteries or archaeological sites.
Our office reviews all demolition permits to ensure that the structure proposed for demolition is not on the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties. We also review projects such as telecommunication towers and Community Block Development Grants to ensure compliance with State and Federal Preservation Laws. Note that many times, projects also have to undergo a State review if any federal or State funds or approvals are required. Our office also helps to coordinate these reviews with the State Historic Preservation Office to help streamline an applicant’s review process.
- Preservation & County Heritage Themes
The Cultural Resources Section recently examined the County's preservation efforts and how policies and processes surrounding historic preservation can be improved in Anne Arundel County. In the white paper, Assessment of Anne Arundel County's Existing Historic Preservation Program (October 2019), the Cultural Resources Section provides recommendations for how the County can implement effective measures to advance preservation in Anne Arundel County and identifies eight potential heritage themes of significance that can provide historic context for preservation in Anne Arundel County:
- Growing a County: Agricultural Heritage in AACO;
- Economic History: Commerce, Trade, & Industry;
- Government, Politics, & the Military Presence in AACO;
- The Basis for a Community: Social, Religious, & Civic Life;
- A Landscape Evolves: Settlement & Development Patterns in AACO;
- Gone but not Forgotten: Archaeology, Cemeteries, & Lost Places
- Horses, Boats, Trains, Cars, and Planes: Transportation in AACO
- A Diverse Melting Pot: Immigration & Migration
Currently, the immigration theme is the only one of the heritage themes to have undergone a comprehensive thematic study, an effort that was funded by a non-capital grant provided by the Maryland Historical Trust. The goal of the Thematic Immigration Study (2019) was to create a context by which to understand the movement of people into and through Anne Arundel County, including its relationship to immigration in the history of the state of Maryland and the nation. The study addresses the broad topic of migration and immigration for the entire history of the county, focusing on the historic built environment and emphasizes the periods of greatest impact to the County’s catalog of historic properties, especially between 1870 and 1920 when the largest mass migration in the United States history took place.
- Current ResearchOver the years, the County has undertaken a number of grant projects in order to learn more about, document, and preserve the County history, such as a recent three-year archaeological and historical review of historic Generals Highway through a partnership with the Maryland State Highway Administration and with funding from the MDOT Transportation Enhancement Program. You can find more exciting projects and resources on our Heritage Resources page.