Preservation Maryland is honored to shine a spotlight on the ceaseless work of our Best of Maryland Award winners – volunteers, stewards, artisans, and elected officials doing the essential work of protecting the places that make Maryland such a special place to live, work, explore – and celebrate. Please join us in congratulating this year’s winners.
Smart Growth Excellence Award: Black Women Build
Black Women Build-Baltimore was founded to train black women in carpentry, electrical, and plumbing while rehabilitating vacant and deteriorated houses. This training not only provides training for these valuable skills, but also promotes neighborhood revitalization and home ownership with participants given the opportunity to purchase the homes they work on when they are complete. The program builds community, provides a way to build intergenerational wealth, and gives skills that can help the women demand higher salaries and maintain their new homes. This innovative approach to growth in existing communities not only brings back the built environment, but creates a community of first-time black women homeowners.
Stewardship Award: Montgomery County Parks, Josiah Henson House
Josiah Henson House
The Josiah Henson Museum and Park is home to a portion of an original plantation where Reverend Josiah Henson lived and worked as a slave from 1795 to 1830. Henson’s 1849 autobiography is said to have inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The project transforms the former plantation site to tell the story of Henson’s life based on facts and evidences, with a new visitor center and the only remaining historic structure rehabilitated as an interpretive exhibit. Located within a suburban context, the Parks Department spent nearly 15 years building relationships and consensus with the neighbors and the community. An extensive amount of resources were needed to not only restore a severely deteriorating structure from the 19th century and building a state-of-the-art visitor center, but also for historical research, archaeological exploration, and expert analyses. With the goal to continue telling the story for many decades to come, Montgomery County Parks utilized the community support, advocates and funding to make this investment.
Preservation Champions: Jan Gardner, Frederick County Executive; Senator Guy Guzzone, State Senator Howard County
Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner
As Frederick County Executive, Jan Gardner stewards one of the state’s fastest-growing counties. She has shown a continued commitment to preservation through the county’s smart growth-minded comprehensive plan Livable Frederick, increased funding for land preservation, new grants for historic preservation, and the effort to document African-American history in the north county. County Executive Gardner has been a key partner of Preservation Maryland and has worked diligently to invest in the County’s rich urban core, protect its vibrant agricultural community, and to ensure that preserving the past is part of Frederick County’s future.
Senator Guy Guzzone
Senator Guy Guzzone of District 13 in Howard County was the Senate sponsor of key historic tax credit legislation in 2021. The Small Commercial Tax Credit has been the backbone for many Main Street projects across the state and can be used to transform vacant houses into vibrant historic homes for many for whom home ownership had long been out of reach. Unfortunately, due to the success of the program, it had run out of funding. Despite the unprecedented constraints of a wholly virtual session of the Maryland General Assembly, Senator Guzzone successfully stewarded a bill that extended the life of the state’s Small Commercial Historic Tax Credit by increasing the authorization for the program by an additional $1M. Senator Guzzone understands the value of the historic tax credit to economic development and community revitalization across the state, and we look forward to continuing to work with him in the future.
Harrison Volunteer Award: Midge Ingersoll, Handsell House
Midge Ingersoll helped found the Nanticoke Historic Preservation Alliance to preserve the Handsell Historic Site.
Since its founding in 2009, the organization has helped not only ensure the preservation of Handsell itself, it has also worked to tell the stories of all three cultures whose history makes up the tale of this site: the Native People of Chicone Village, African Americans and Colonial settlers with missions of “Three Cultures—One Story.”
The Phoenix Award: The A. Hoen Lithograph Building
The A. Hoen Lithography Co. left the East Baltimore neighborhood in 1981 and what once was a thriving community hub became a vacant disinvested neighborhood for years to come. The campus is comprised of three historic structures dating to the late 1800’s and two non-historic warehouse buildings on a site occupying a whole city block. Cross Street Partners took care to preserve the building’s historic fabric and story and to meet the Secretary of the Interior’s standards, while incorporating modern building systems and amenities. Overcoming the challenge to balance necessary improvements for energy efficiency with historic requirements, the project uses 21.6% less energy than a typical building of this type. Working with a more than 100-year-old complex gave importance to how the redevelopment could continue to serve the community for another 100 years. The A. Hoen Lithograph campus is now The Center for Neighborhood Innovation (CNI) and serves as a new model for neighborhood transformation.
Artisan Award: John W. O’Rourke, Sotterley
John O’Rourke has served as Sotterley’s Restoration Manager for over two decades. He served as expert advisor and facilitator for the development of Sotterley’s extensive Preservation Plan. He then served as project manager in the first phase of critically needed structural repairs on the Manor House and overseeing the extensive renovations that included installing fire suppression, climate control and security systems, while doing so in a way that protected the historical integrity of the building. In his long relationship with Sotterley, John has done restoration work on almost all of Sotterley’s two dozen buildings, and has performed an analysis of many of the buildings which has been used to establish restoration priorities. John began his career as a restoration carpenter working at Historic St. Mary’s City starting in the early 1980s. John worked periodically over a span of more than 25 years as a restoration carpenter at Mount Vernon, George Washington’s estate. The largest and most complicated project that John undertook was to reconstruct Washington’s stone whiskey distillery, which was one of the largest operations of its kind in the country when the original building was constructed in 1797. John is now retired, but continues to serve as an advisor to Historic Sotterley, and he has been recognized by the organization as a “Sotterley Fellow” for his incredible dedication and service.
Gearhart Professional Award: Amanda Shores Davis, Star-Spangled Banner Flag House
Amanda Davis, Executive Director of the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House in Baltimore
Amanda Shores Davis is the Executive Director of the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House & Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. Davis was president of the Greater Baltimore History Alliance from 2017-2020, is the secretary of the Maryland Four Centuries Project, and serves on the Small Museum Association Conference Committee. Under Davis‘ leadership, the Flag House was awarded accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums in March of 2019. Accreditation is the highest national recognition afforded the nation’s museums. Of the nation’s estimated 33,000 museums, 1,000 are currently accredited. The Flag House is one of only 23 museums accredited in Maryland.
President’s Award: Christian Havemeyer, Chestertown, Md.
Christian Havemeyer is a philanthropist, preservationist, and lover of architecture. Christian played an important role in the wave of historic preservation that took Chestertown by storm in the 1970s and has continued to this day. His forethought, patience, and leadership have been vital to the preservation and documentation of Chestertown’s storied history.
Preservation Maryland’s Best of Maryland Awards ceremony will take place at our Phoenix Rising event October 7th, 2021.