Today marks the kickoff of “summer hours” for Historic St. Mary’s City, the site of the fourth permanent settlement in British North America, Maryland's first capital, and the birthplace of religious toleration. St. Mary’s City is a place full of history and beauty, located in the south end of St. Mary’s County at the junction of the Potomac River and The Chesapeake Bay. It was established in 1634 as the capital of Maryland. The colony was a booming tobacco producer and bustled with activity, until the Capital Seat was moved to Annapolis in 1695. The town was virtually abandoned and sat vacant for nearly 300 years; its only use was for farmland. Thanks to those farmers, the old artifacts long buried were kept in pristine condition. Archaeologists began digging the site in 1971, and today there is an almost complete recreation of the colony, using original pieces and reconstruction accurate to the time period.
Attractions include the reconstructed State House of 1676, Smith's Ordinary, and the Godiah Spray Tobacco Plantation, a working colonial farm. You can even “friend” Bob, the female cow of the plantation on Facebook! At the Woodland Indian Hamlet, visitors discover how Maryland's native population interacted with English colonists. You can even visit the Maryland Dove, a replica square-rigged ship, and witness a cannonball launch.
We have been visiting Historic St. Mary’s City for as long as I can remember. When we were younger we would bring a picnic lunch and take a walk through the old cemetery, and down by the water to look for our own treasures that may have been washed ashore. It is a great place for school field trips, and I have been on quite a few over the years, learning about the early settlers’ way of life. We’ve even been to a wedding or two in one of the lovely gardens. The grounds are also home to St. Mary’s College, a “public honors college” that attracts students from all over the world to the picturesque area. Historic St. Mary’s City is a great place to come for people of all ages, and a wonderful source of both entertainment and history.