Preservation Maryland Open House: A Celebration of 86 Years of Historic Preservation Stewardship and Advocacy

On April 27, 2017, Special Collections and University Archives hosted a Preservation Maryland Open House. I organized the open house as part of my practicum for the Museum Scholarship and Material Culture graduate certificate program with guidance from Maryland and Historical Collections Curator Liz Novara. The Preservation Maryland archives are one of many Historic Preservation collections available for research here at SCUA. This particular collection is significant in that it documents the transition of the nation’s second oldest preservation organization from a model of stewarding historic structures to advocacy of historic preservation. The Preservation Maryland archives, dating back to 1931, document a preeminent force in the modern historic preservation movement.

Housed at Special Collections and University Archives, Preservation Maryland’s archives are an incredible resource for the university’s historic preservation students, the historic preservation community, and anyone interested in Maryland history. These documents are open to the public and you can find out more here.


Left to right: Maryland and Historical Collections Curator Liz Novara, Jen Wachtel, Communications Director Meagan Baco, Development Director Douglas Harbit, Executive Director Nick Redding, and Engagement Director Elly Cowan posing with Testudo after Jen Wachtel’s welcoming remarks. Photo courtesy of Preservation Maryland.

For the Open House, I reviewed multiple accessions of Preservation Maryland records and selected documents highlighting the mission and focus of the institution. I delivered welcoming remarks contextualizing these documents within the Historic Preservation collections and provided a brief overview of Preservation Maryland history. By the nature of institutional records, the documents included annual reports, daily correspondence, and meeting minutes. A closer inspection revealed Preservation Maryland’s pivotal role in preserving heritage across the entire State of Maryland. I selected a variety formats available in the collection, including blueprints, photo albums, posters, periodicals, and paper documents and laid them out in the Maryland Room for display. Open House attendees also had the opportunity to take one last look at an exhibit case on display for the entire month of April featuring Preservation Maryland.


Jen Wachtel, Preservation Maryland Executive Director Nick Redding, and Preservation Maryland Engagement Director Elly Cowan examining posters and blueprints in the Maryland Room. Photo courtesy of Meagan Baco, Preservation Maryland Communications Director.

Attendees perused documents highlighting key aspects of Preservation Maryland’s history, such as its partnerships with the Maryland Historic Trust and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. A particular favorite item was a box of records on display demonstrating how we house archival documents once they are delivered for research. When you request to see archival documents here at SCUA, you will likely see a records storage box that looks like this one!


Jen Wachtel posing with a records storage box during the Open House. Photo courtesy of Meagan Baco, Preservation Maryland Communications Director.

I would like to thank Liz Novara of the Maryland and Historical Collections for her guidance and support in arranging the Open House. I would also like to thank Preservation Maryland and the entire team of SCUA staff who encouraged me during the event.

Jen Wachtel is a graduate student in the History and Library Science dual-master’s program pursuing a certificate in Museum Scholarship and Material Culture. She is also a Graduate Assistant for Labor Collections at Special Collections and University Archives and anticipates graduating in December 2018.

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