November 13, 2011

New Beginnings in a New World

When we arrived at our campground near Washington, D.C., on Thursday night, I could not get an internet connection on my computer.  Networks were available, but I couldn’t get online.  Just when I thought that my computer issues had been resolved, here I’m back where I started.  There was no time to deal with the issue on Friday, so I have not been able to post any blog entries for days.

On Saturday morning we went back to BestBuy, and luckily, there was one very close to the campground.  The Geek Squad took care of us right away and determined that the issue was with our MiFi.  The fix was so simple.  The technician removed the battery, held down the power button for twenty seconds and reseated the battery.  Voila!  The internet connection was working again.  Maybe we’ll learn all of the tricks before the trip is over.

With our technical issues resolved, we hit the road again for Southern Maryland and St. Mary’s City.  St. Mary's City is the fourth oldest permanent settlement in British North America and was the first capital of Maryland.  It is also considered to be the birthplace of religious tolerance in the United States, as well as the birthplace of the modern Roman Catholic Church in the United States.  Today’s Historic St. Mary’s City is an outdoor museum of living history that protects one of the nation’s best colonial archeological sites.  

Seventeenth-century St. Mary’s City all but disappeared from the face of the earth, and the structures on exhibit today are reconstructions or representations based on decades of archeological and historical investigations.

Two of the most significant buildings are the State House, which was re-created in 1934, and the Chapel.  The reconstruction of the exterior of the Chapel was completed in 2009.  I might quibble with some of the decisions that were made, but I can certainly appreciate the scholarship that has gone into the project, especially since the primary focus appears to be interpretation.

State House


Farthing's Ordinary

Mackall Barn, the Oldest Standing Wooden Barn in Maryland
We even took the time to listen to a lecture on The Atlantic Turn and Chesapeake History: Charting New Courses in the Study of Early Virginia and Maryland.  Since we didn’t finish seeing what we wanted to see, we came back to St. Mary’s this morning.  The staff was kind enough to give us a pass so we could return.

Sarah Made Me Do It
We were able to see one of the most unique living history experiences at the site – the Maryland Dove, a working representation of the square-rigged ship that brought the original settlers from England.  Here, a costumed interpreter guided us through the ship as it was being down rigged in preparation for winter.

Maryland Dove
Tim was especially interested in the archeological investigations that are ongoing at St. Mary’s City and was able to spend time discussing methods with the staff.  We had a wonderful time there and were both glad that we had finally seen the place that we had been hearing about for decades.

After a seafood lunch at Capt’ Billy’s on the Potomac River, we crossed into Virginia, and made a quick detour to the George Washington Birthplace National Monument.  This is a rather odd unit of the National Park System.  The birthplace, located on the farm where George Washington was born, has evolved as a living memorial to Washington.

The Memorial House on the property was built in 1930, and its design was a best-guess at what the original house might have looked like.  A colonial kitchen was added soon after.  Archeological investigations were ongoing at the property, and the foundation of the original house was discovered in1936.  This later research revealed that the memorial structures bear little resemblance to the ones that stood here in 1732.  

Colonial Kitchen and the Memorial House

Outline of the Foundation of the Original House
The commemorative efforts here led to the designation of the birthplace in 1930 as the first historic site in the National Park System.  The concept of a living memorial has been expanded since the 1930s, and a Colonial Farm was established in 1968.  It was a lovely place to spend a little bit of time.

This Hat Doesn't Fit

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