Gold finial at the top of the award-winning Annapolis Post Office.

Best of Maryland Awards Announcement: Celebrating the Best of Maryland’s History and Heritage in 2020

08/25/2020
By Preservation Maryland

In these difficult times, Preservation Maryland is honored to shine a spotlight on the ceaseless work of our Best of Maryland Award winners – volunteers, architects, artisans, and legislators doing the essential work of protecting the places that make Maryland such a special place to live, work, explore – and celebrate.

“At its best, preservation engages the past in a conversation with the present over a mutual concern for the future.” – William Murtagh

PRESS RELEASE: BEST OF MARYLAND AWARDS 2020 (PDF)

THIS YEAR’S BEST OF MARYLAND AWARDEES

EXPERT HOUSE MOVERS
EASTERN SHORE, STATEWIDE, NATIONWIDE
PRESIDENT’S AWARD

Did you see the Galloway mansion floating across the Chesapeake Bay on the local news or a viral video clip online? That was the work of Sharptown, Maryland-based, Expert House Movers, a national leader in structural lifting and transport. The third-generation family-owned company’s portfolio includes the relocation of six lighthouses, several historic theatres, two covered bridges, an airport terminal, and countless historic residential structures of every shape and size across the country. For their expertise and commitment in the Old Line State, Preservation Maryland is honored to present Expert House Movers with this year’s Best of Maryland President’s Award.

LEARN MORE ABOUT EXPERT HOUSE MOVERS


DELEGATE STEPHANIE SMITH
BALTIMORE CITY
LEGISLATIVE CHAMPION

Delegate Stephanie Smith of District 45 in Baltimore City was the House sponsor for the Historic Revitalization Tax Credit Improvement Act of 2020. Despite the shortened session due to COVID-19, the legislation passed and includes a provision that allows for the large commercial tax credits can be transferred, allowing more money to go toward the projects themselves and not to transactional costs. Delegate Smith understands the transformative potential an historic tax credit project can have on a community as a whole and is a voice for revitalization in her role as Assistant Director of Equity, Engagement and Communications in Baltimore City’s Department of Planning. We look forward to continuing to work for change with Delegate Smith at the intersection of planning, equity, and preservation.

LEARN MORE ABOUT DEL. SMITH


SENATOR KATIE FRY HESTER
LEGISLATIVE CHAMPION

Senator Katie Fry Hester’s role as a legislative champion can actually be traced to her sponsorship of a bill in the 2019 session of the Maryland General Assembly that called for a study of the preservation and reuse of the state’s historic government complexes, such as Warfields hospital which falls in the Senator’s District 9. The Senator served on the steering committee for that study, which was released in January of 2020. Senator Hester’s passion to help such complex historic preservation projects move forward led to her to champion a number of pieces of legislation in the 2020 Session to address the recommendations of the historic government complexes report, including the Historic Revitalization Tax Credit Improvement Act of 2020 and the expansion of a successful clean energy loan program to include environmental remediation for adaptive reuse projects.

LEARN MORE ABOUT SEN. HESTER


Celebrate the Best with the Best: 

This year’s Best of Maryland awardees are being presented awards at socially distant site visits across the state this month. The public is invited to learn more about each award and to help us honor them by attending a special event at Bengies Drive-In Movie Theater in Middle River, Maryland on Thursday, October 1, 2020. The awards event will be followed by a screening of the 1980s classic, “The Money Pit” as a nod to the challenging and sometimes humorous nature of saving old buildings. All are welcome and proceeds support the nonprofit organization.

Get your Phoenix Rising Tickets today


PETE LESHER
CHESAPEAKE BAY MARITIME MUSEUM
GEARHART PROFESSIONAL AWARD

Pete has been working full-time at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum for nearly 30 years and before then was a common sight as a dockhand the waterfront complex. But that’s nothing compared to Pete’s origin-story; his grandfather took him to the Museum as toddler with duck decoy in tow. Now, as Chief Curator, Pete develops interpretive exhibitions and public programs that highlight the Bay’s maritime history and culture, including Native American life, seventeenth- and eighteenth-century trans-Atlantic trade, naval history, the Bay’s unique watercraft and boat building traditions, navigation, waterfowling, boating, seafood harvesting, and recreation. Moreover, Pete is a committed advocate in support of Maryland’s museums and cultural sites and is often in Annapolis testifying or speaking passionately in support of Maryland’s heritage tourism. For his distinguished and unique work at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum and his long-established dedication to Maryland history, Preservation Maryland is honored to present Pete Lesher with this year’s Gearhart Professional Service Award.

LEARN MORE ABOUT PETE LESHER


JAMES CASTLE
BRUNSWICK HERITAGE MUSEUM
HARRISON VOLUNTEER AWARD

A native of Brunswick, Maryland in Frederick County, James Castle is a model citizen, dedicated volunteers, skilled historian, and stalwart preservationist…sometimes known as Brakeman Jim, while giving free tours to heritage tourists or local senior citizens. In 2015, James Castle became President of the Brunswick Potomac Foundation almost 20 years from the day he first started to volunteer for the organization. He has held the position ever since. In his tenure, Castle has led a note-worthy fundraising effort, supported the creation of a protective conservation district and the relocation of the historic WB Railroad Tower, and reinvigorated the organization’s online presence during Covid-19. Preservation Maryland is pleased to recognize Jim Castle with this year’s Harrison Volunteer Award.

LEARN MORE ABOUT BRUNSWICK


ENOCH PRATT FREE LIBRARY CENTRAL LIBRARY
RENOVATION & MODERNIZATION
BALTIMORE CITY
PRESERVATION ARTISAN AWARD

Baltimore City’s ca. 1933 Enoch Pratt Free Library Central Library is the flagship location of one of the oldest public library systems in the United States, and through the work and skills of many hands during an extraordinary renovation and modernization project, the Library shines bright as a beacon of community, knowledge, and betterment. Like the work of innumerable authors housed in the Library, the renovation project itself was the collective work of dozens of skilled artisans led by EverGreene Architectural Arts and F.G. Vogt Company to revive this Temple of Learning.

Conservators conducted in-situ investigations on painted and adorned surfaces, and historians referenced archival photographs for design guidance. Touching just about every surface of the 300,000 square foot library the artisan team worked throughout the building on historic materials and finishes such as plaster, millwork, and terrazzo were restored; decorative metal and painting were brought back to their original state and preserved; and historic lighting was restored or replicated. Even the custom-designed furniture original to the building was restored for reuse.

For their individual skill and stunning collective achievement, Preservation Maryland and the Campaign for Historic Trades is proud to recognize the Pratt Library project team with the 2020 Preservation Artisan Award.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE PRATT PROJECT


Center for Health Care and Healthy Living at the Baltimore Hebrew Orphan Asylum
BALTIMORE CITY
THE PHOENIX AWARD

The nation’s oldest standing Jewish Orphanage, a stately 1876 Romanesque Structure in Baltimore City, was once slated for demolition and suffered decades of abandonment, but thanks to the hard work of community advocates and preservation professionals, the building has been reimagined into a much-needed health care center.

The combination of a signature vacant building and the desperate need for medical options created a powerful opportunity for reuse of the Asylum. Coppin Heights Community Development Corporation and Cross Street Partners came up with the winning partnership to change the course of history for the Hebrew Orphan Asylum – a commitment of 100% occupancy of the structure by Baltimore Health Department and Behavioral Health System Baltimore specifically for an opioid stabilization clinic.

The successful $17 million restorations of the Hebrew Orphan Asylum stretched out over 16 years and utilized competitive Maryland state tax credits along with other incentives. For achieving this awe-inspiring rehabilitation, the Coppin Heights Community Development Corporation, Baltimore Heritage, Inc., and Waldon Studio Architects are recognized with this year’s Phoenix Award.

LEARN MORE THE HOA PROJECT


View of the rural and maritime landscape of Kent County, MD. Photo from Lands of America.

CULTURAL LANDSCAPE ASSESSMENT REPORT
KENT CONSERVATION & PRESERVATION ALLIANCE
KENT COUNTY, EASTERN SHORE
SMART GROWTH EXCELLENCE AWARD

Kent County, Maryland’s picturesque historic and natural resources were the subject of a model report which confirmed the unique and unparalleled opportunities for preservation in this eastern shore county. For their inspired and innovative undertaking of the Preliminary Cultural Landscape Assessment of Kent County, Maryland, the project team comprised of the Kent Conservation & Preservation Alliance, Barton Ross & Associates, McGinnis Landscape (now Kennon Williams Landscape Studio), Heritage Strategies, and Washington College Center for Environment and Society, will receive the Smart Growth Excellence Award from Preservation Maryland and Smart Growth Maryland.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE REPORT


CASA DE MARYLAND
HISTORIC BELNORD THEATRE
STEWARDSHIP AWARD

CASA de Maryland is a Latino and immigration advocacy and assistance organization with satellite offices in Pennsylvania and Virginia. Here in Maryland, the non-profit organization had been serving the community for several years from East Fayette Street, a few blocks from the Belnord Theatre building. After a purchase in 2017, CASA created bold plans for the historic theatre. Selective demolition removed a non-historic ceiling revealing beautiful architectural details and a space large enough to create a series of modern pods for different uses – all while respecting those design elements and achieving ADA compliance and LEED Gold Certification. Even during Covid-19, CASA has been able to utilize the extra space of the Belnord Theatre renovation to host large-scale and socially-distanced grocery pick-ups. CASA is eager to return to full-strength – supporting the community – and the restored Belnord will take center stage.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BELNORD


MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF GENERAL SERVICES
ANNAPOLIS POST OFFICE
STEWARDSHIP AWARD

Under the direction of the Maryland Department of General Services, one of Annapolis’s historic post offices just underwent a world-class comprehensive adaptive reuse program to restore the deteriorated Georgian Revival architecture and to convert its interior space into new state government offices for the governor’s office of community initiatives and the governor’s legal office. DGS selected to work with industry leaders Consigli Construction, Ziger/Snead Architects, and Wagner Roofing to complete the work on the 1901 structure – and Gold Leaf Studios even gilded the historic pineapple cupola adornment with 23.5 karat double-weight gold. This Best of Maryland Stewardship Award goes to the Maryland Department of General Services for envisioning and financing this over iconic $15 million project on Annapolis’ Church Circle.

LEARN MORE ABOUT DGS


EVERGREEN HERITAGE CENTER FOUNDATION
WESTERN MARYLAND
STEWARDSHIP AWARD

The Evergreen barn in Allegany County is believed to be the last remaining 18th-century barn in Western Maryland and was the site of a concerted preservation and reuse effort to reimagine the future of this stunning barn. Kickstarted by a feasibility study in 2015, major repairs in 2018, and the grand opening of the barn as an architectural museum complete with an exhibit called, “Living Off The Land,” the Evergreen Foundation has exemplified careful and creative stewardship and are well-deserving of this Preservation Maryland Stewardship Award. You don’t have to take our word for it; just ask the over 9,000 Western Maryland kids who are edutained on-site each year.

LEARN MORE ABOUT EVERGREEN


WASHINGTON GROVE HISTORIC SIGN VOLUNTEERS
MONTGOMERY COUNTY
COMMUNITY CHOICE AWARD

When Washington Grove transitioned from a summer resort to an incorporated town, much of the rustic camp character of this special place carried on including their approach to handcrafting their street signs. Starting in 1937, citizens built, painted, installed and maintained these iconic posts, including a new cohort of volunteers who recently worked with the Historic Preservation Commission and the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service to make minor modifications to the original design to ensure that the town would not lose these iconic signs that provide a sense of direction and a sense of place. For their dedication to the details, Preservation Maryland presents Susan Van Nostrand and the thirty-three volunteers of Washington Grove sign project with a 2020 Best of Maryland Community Choice Award.

LEARN MORE ABOUT WASHINGTON GROVE


PARSONS CEMETERY ADVISORY COMMITTEE
SALISBURY, EASTERN SHORE
COMMUNITY CHOICE AWARD

Parsons Cemetery in Salisbury, Maryland is an historic operational cemetery, an urban green space, an outdoor museum, and in the words of architectural historian, Keith Eggener, a place where “life meets death, nature meets city, and present meets past.” The six-member volunteer committee is inspired by those words and diligently works towards creating a site of reverence and culture by offering self-guided walking tours based on their on-going historical and genealogical research, maintaining the 18 acres of sacred grounds and the promise of perpetual care, and filling their lively Facebook page with incredible and enduring stories of Maryland history. For these reasons, Preservation Maryland is pleased to honor and recognize the work of the past and current Parsons Cemetery Advisory Committee with a 2020 Best of Maryland Community Choice Award.

LEARN MORE ABOUT PARSONS CEMETERY


ODENTON HERITAGE SOCIETY
ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY
COMMUNITY CHOICE AWARD

You may have seen the work of the Odenton Heritage Society if you’ve ridden the MARC train past Odenton and noticed the handsome stone building, previously the Citizens State Bank – the Historical Society purchased, restored, and reopened the historic building in 1994 as their first museum. The all-volunteer group, led by President, Wylie Donaldson and Roger White, Curator, more recently completed the transformation of the town’s ca. 1912 Old Masonic Hall for as the Odenton Heritage Society Historical Center which serves as a local history museum, public archives, the Society’s office and a community meeting place. The public is welcome to visit the Old Mason Hall, the tallest building in the Odenton Historic District, to see first-hand the restoration work and to learn more about Odenton at the Society’s museum and archives. For their outsized impact and preservation work, Preservation Maryland is pleased to present the Odenton Heritage Society with a 2020 Community Choice Best of Maryland award.

LEARN MORE ABOUT OHS


HISTORIC LONDON TOWN & GARDENS
ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY
COMMUNITY CHOICE AWARD

Historic London Town & Gardens in Anne Arundel County is a long-established living history site tackling every day and extraordinary challenges head-on. The waterfront historic site is flush with gardens, trails, and wildlife; it hosts the County’s archaeology lab and large history museum, and a colonial village focused around the National Historic Landmark William Brown House. Recently, the team led by Rod Cofield and Lauren Silberman embarked on recreating the tavern bar in the Brown House and included an LGBTQ-inclusive array of characters and experiences into their interpretation practices. Their spirited approach even caught the eye of Travel Channel’s Booze Traveler. Next up, they’ll utilize a Maryland Heritage Areas Authority grant to build a new education pavilion on the main site. For their creative and can-do approach to creating a 21st-century open-air museum based in its 18th-century historic roots, Preservation Maryland is pleased to present Historic London Town & Gardens with a 2020 Best of Maryland Community Choice Award.

LEARN MORE ABOUT LONDON TOWN

Best of Maryland 2020 Press Release (PDF)

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