Historic St. Mary’s City, Maryland

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By John Cowgill

In 1634, settlers arrived in the New World, sailing into the Chesapeake Bay, up the Potomac River, and up a river to plot of land.  These settlers established Saint Mary’s City, the fourth English settlement in the colonies. It was the first city in the colony of Maryland and the capital of the new colony, and became a thriving city.

The state capital was moved to Annapolis in 1649, and eventually, the establishment known as Saint Mary’s City died off.  The buildings went into ruin.  What was once a thriving city became a plantation. Saint Mary’s City was forgotten in time.

St Marys City

Outlines of buildings

In the 1960s, a commission was organized to bring Saint Mary’s City back to life, and by 1969, one of the oldest cities in the United States was resurrected as a living history museum.

You’ll find the following in Historic Saint Mary’s City:

  • the waterfront where a replica ship called the ‘Dove’ is docked,
  • the Town Center,
  • the Woodland Indian Hamlet that displays the life of the Yaocomaco people and surrounding tribes that lived on the land,
  • the reconstructed State House,
  • the Mackall Barn, which is the oldest agricultural structure in the state and was erected when the plantation was established,
  • the Brick Chapel, which stands as a monument to religious freedom,
  • the Saint John Site Museum, with an archeological dig of an old house,
  • the Godiah Spray Tobacco Plantation that displays the life of the Spray family, and
  • the Visitor Center.

The Town Center, the ‘Dove’, and the Godiah Spray Tobacco Plantation have people dressed in the attire of the early settlers to give you a feel of how the early settlers lived.  Be warned, you may find yourself in the seventeenth century.

St Marys City

Structure in the Town Center

As Maryland’s oldest city and its first capital, Historic Saint Mary’s City tells the story of the early years of what would become the United States of America.  Visitors can get a taste of the early life of the colonies.

Historic Saint Mary’s City is located at 18751 Hogaboom Lane in Saint Mary’s City, Maryland.  It is open from March to November from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Days open vary through the season.  Admission is required and can be paid at either the Visitor Center or the Gift Shop in the Town Center.  Although many of the sights are wheelchair accessible, some of the structures and the ‘Dove’ are not.  You can get directions and admission information about Historic Saint Mary’s City at hsmcdigshistory.org/.

Make a visit to Historic Saint Mary’s City.  See how life in America began.

John Cowgill writes about regional destinations for Prince William Living.


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