Historic preservation: Protecting our past
From the region’s first American Indian inhabitants at least 12,000 years ago to the establishment of Naval Support Facility Indian Head in the late 19th century, our county’s history reflects Southern Maryland’s diversity and continuity of life. Charles County’s historic sites, districts, landscapes and archaeological resources uniquely reflect its past. These historic locations allow you to step back in history, and offer more reasons you can be proud to call Charles County home.
The Historic Preservation Program works to restore and revitalize county historic sites and communities including Rich Hill Farmhouse, the Port Tobacco Historic District, and the village of Benedict. The Department of Planning and Growth Management staff works closely with state and local partners, and other county government departments to coordinate a diverse range of projects. Each site and community is unique, and designed to reflect the community’s character. Projects include community enhancements, strategic land acquisitions, archaeological and architectural research and community outreach.
One of the newest initiatives of the Historic Preservation Program is promoting state income tax credits available to home and business owners for eligible rehabilitation expenses. Owners of properties listed on or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places have the opportunity to earn a state income tax credit equal to 20 percent of qualified rehabilitation expenditures. The credit is capped at $50,000 in a 24-month period, and must have a minimum of $5,000 of eligible expenses to qualify.
Another component of preserving and protecting our county’s history is the work of the Historic Preservation Commission. The Charles County Commissioners established the Historic Preservation Commission in 2009. The commission reviews development plans for impacts to cultural resources, recommends properties for local historic landmark designation, reviews exterior changes to local landmarks, and supports documentation of county historic resources.
In order to keep you up-to-date with their current work, the commission publishes an annual “Preservation Matters” magazine. The publication highlights important historic preservation initiatives throughout the year, including research and documentation, restoration, and community outreach. The third edition of “Preservation Matters” will be available in late summer/early fall and feature articles on the John Grinder House at Smallwood State Park, Mt. Aventine and an update on Rich Hill. The magazine is available online at www.CharlesCountyMD.gov/PGM/Planning/Historic-Preservation-Newsletter.
The commission is holding its annual Preservation Awards Ceremony on Thursday, May 18, from 6-8 p.m. at Smallwood State Park to announce 2017 Preservation Award recipients. Preservation awards are presented in two categories. The Preservation Project Award recognizes excellence in the preservation and restoration of historic buildings and adaptive reuse of historic structures. The Preservation Service Award recognizes outstanding achievement in and support for furthering the aims of historic preservation in Charles County, including education, research, development, planning, advocacy and community leadership. Public is invited to attend.
To learn more about the county’s historic preservation efforts, go to www.CharlesCountyMD.gov/PGM/ Planning/Historic-Preservation. Steve Kaii-Ziegler is the Charles County Director of the Department of Planning and Growth Management.