Dignitaries pose after cutting the ribbon marking Swains Lockhouse on the C&O Canal open, 2019.

Heritage Fund Highlight: Historic Swains Lockhouse Reopens along C&O Canal

08/10/2019
By Preservation Maryland

Earlier this summer, the C&O Canal Trust reopened the historic Swains Lockhouse after a three-year rehabilitation project supported in part by the Heritage Fund grant program. The Lockhouse dates to ca. 1916 and now open to the public as part of their very popular Canal Quarters program.

The Swains Lockhouse is located at a popular entrance point to the C&O Canal National Historical Park at Lock 21 in Potomac, Maryland. The Lockhouse’s period furnishings and interpretive panels reflect the 1916 date of the structure. For Americans, and specifically, preservationists that year holds a significance. The C&O Canal Trust states it as such on their website: In this year, the U.S. was poised to enter World War One, President Woodrow Wilson was re-elected, the women’s suffrage movement was underway, the first woman was elected to Congress, and the National Park Service was established. 

Now reopened, the C&O Canal Trust will rent the Lockhouse as part of their popular Canal Quarters program. Previously, the Lockhouse was occupied and maintained by the Swains family and several members were in attendance during the June 2019 ribbon cutting. The family has also generously loaded period furniture, antiques, and some family photographs to provide an authentic reprensetation of life on the lock for all visitors to experience. Stays in the lockhouse will cost guests $160 a night, with all revenue being used for the continued preservation of the lockhouses.

The rehabilitation was funded through a public-private partnership, with the C&O Canal Trust raising $100,000 that was leveraged to secure private donations and public funding. The Heriage Fund, a joint program of Preservation Maryland and the Maryland Historical Trust, contributed $5,000 to the Trust early on in their project specifically to support marketing materials, public events, and the detailed architectural blog series. The rehabilitation cost approximately $500,000.

In the Lead Photo: Dignitaries pose after cutting the ribbon marking Swains Lockhouse on the C&O Canal open. Pictured left to right: Matt Higgins, representative for Councilmember Andrew Friedson; Bill Holdsworth, President, C&O Canal Association; Michael C. Mitchell, Former Chair, C&O Canal Trust; Delegate Sara Love; Ken Reichard, representative for Senator Ben Cardin; Kevin Brandt, Superintendent, C&O Canal National Historical Park; Steve Chaudet, Chair, C&O Canal Trust; Robert Mertz, C&O Canal Trust volunteer who developed the furnishing plan for Swains Lockhouse; Senator Susan Lee; Bert Swain, C&O Canal Trust Board Member and member of the Swain family who grew up in the lockhouse; Robin Zanotti, President, C&O Canal Trust; Don Harrison, President, Friends of the Historic Great Falls Tavern.

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