April 10, 2017
Tolson’s Chapel was once a school, a church, and the center of a community. Now, thanks to the work of folks like our guest Edie Wallace, as well as Preservation Maryland, it may hopefully serve as a way to glimpse into the often overlooked second act of the story of the Civil War and the emancipation of slavery. Nick sat down this week with the President of the non-profit Friends of Tolson’s Chapel, to discuss the challenges associated with preserving this unique building, and why it and similar preservation projects are a key part of the full story of the Civil War. This is PreserveCast.
[Nick Redding] The story of Tolson’s Chapel is one that truly captures what life was like for formerly enslaved people in Maryland after the Civil War. Thanks to the efforts of people like this week’s guest, Edie Wallace, that story is finally being shared. This week, we’ll come face-to-face with the power of place on PreserveCast.
[SPONSOR] This episode of Preserve Cast is brought to you by Howard Bank. Howard Bank, we’re not just your bank. We’re your roots.
From Preservation Maryland Studios in the historic podcast district of Baltimore, this is PreserveCast.
[Nick Redding] Edie Wallace is a historian with a Master of Arts degree in Historic Preservation from Goucher College. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology from The University of Delaware and a certificate in Historic Preservation from Shepherd College. Miss Wallace leads historical research in context developments services for Paula S. Reed and Associates in Hagerstown, Maryland. She currently serves as president of the non-profit Friends of Tolson’s Chapel, [which is] dedicated to the preservation, restoration, and interpretation of the historic Tolson’s Chapel in Sharpburg, Maryland. Tolson’s Chapel, sort of a unknown story, but something that people, we think, should know about that is connected with the history of Sharpsburg, Maryland and Antietam National Battlefield. So thanks for joining us today, Edie. It’s good to have you here.
[Edie Wallace] Thank you. Thanks for having me.
[NR] So Edie, where did you start the day today? You’re now in the PreserveCast Studios in Baltimore Maryland, but where did you get up, and where did you begin your day?
[EW] Well, I live outside of Sharpsburg, and I work in Hagerstown. So I began my day on The Potomac River outside of Sharpsburg and traveled through Hagerstown and across central Maryland to get here.
[NR] For people listening maybe from outside of the Maryland area or the D.C. area, Sharpsburg is about an hour and a half west of Baltimore City in Washington County Maryland on the western edge of the state along The Potomac River. There in the confluence of West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, all within a short drive of each other right there in that narrow little part of the state and an incredibly historic area. And you’ve been working in historic preservation for quite some time now. How did you get your start in preservation? When did you get the bug?
[EW] Well, history is in my blood. My father was an historian. My grandfather was an English professor; but he was well-known for chronicling the history of Pennsylvania Indians. I kind of come by it very honestly. In college I studied anthropology. I was an archaeologist. And after I had children, I kind of moved away from that. And as they got older, I decided to go back to school and studied preservation. And I work as an historian, but still digging, just not getting my fingernails dirty. [laughter]
[NR] So what kind of work– where has that taken you? What kind of projects have you worked on or the things that listeners might be familiar with, places that you’ve documented?
[EW] Well, with Paula Reed & Associates who I work for we do a lot of work for the National Park Service, so people are very familiar with some of the places that we’ve worked. Antietam National Battlefield, we updated the National Register nomination for that. We’ve done that also for Monocacy Battlefield. We just finished a project for Mount Rushmore National Memorial.
[NR] So a few places people have heard of.
[EW] Yes, but we also do local stuff. We do a lot of work in Maryland for the Department of Natural Resources. Even though they’re mostly scenic natural parks, they all have cultural resources on them that need to be evaluated.
[NR] Yeah. I think that I’ve heard the Department of Natural Resources actually owns more historic resources than any other agency of state government. So they have a lot of inventory at varying levels of preservation and decay.
[NR] So I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of that. Now, does most of your work– at least in Maryland– is it primarily in the western part of the state, or is it sort of all over the place?
[EW] It’s all over the place. We really have been to all corners or all– three, four corners, five corners of the state. We’ve done lots of work on the Eastern Shore. We’ve done southern Maryland, central Maryland, and all all the way out to Garrett County. Of course the DNR, the Department of Natural Resources, owns a lot of land out in Allegheny and Garrett County.
[NR] Right. In the far western portion of the state.
[EW] With some wonderful mountain farms, farmsteads that we’ve gotten to trod through and record–
[NR] So you do a lot of architectural survey work. Are you doing the photography, the architectural documentation, the whole nine yards?
[EW] Yes. We do it all.
[NR] You get sent out and do it all.
[NR] At this point in your career, how many structures do you think you’ve documented? Do you have a ballpark?
[EW] Oh, I don’t even–
[NR] Are we in the thousands though?
[EW] Oh, I’m sure, because we did the National Register Districts for most of the small towns in Washington County. There are anywhere from 400 to 600 and more buildings when you really get down to it. Yeah.
[NR] That’s awesome. So obviously you have seen a lot of different historic places, but the one that we’re going to talk about clearly captured your imagination and has been a passion project of yours since you got involved with it. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about Tolson’s Chapel? How did you find it? How did you get involved in this?
[EW] When I was working on my Master’s degree, which I got through Goucher College – a little plug there – I decided to do my thesis research on African-American resources, cultural resources. It actually came out of Antietam Battlefield. When my husband and I moved out to Washington County and to the Sharpsburg area, when I realized that there were actually slave quarters on Antietam National Battlefield. And it kind of blew me away. I grew up in Frederick and I’d always assumed that Western Maryland was full of German farmers and nobody owned slaves, which turned out to be incorrect. And so I wanted to do the research on slavery and freedom and the associated resources.
[NR] So where were those slave quarters at Antietam? People who are interested in or headed out to the battlefield, where could they find them?
[EW] There is one prominently on the Piper Farm. That’s the first farm that you see with the big, beautiful, stone barn. It’s a small stone building in front of the main house on the Piper Farm. That’s where Jerry Summers was born and lived with his family. He was born a slave on the Piper Farm. And then there’s one attached to the springhouse on the Roulette Farm that was probably also used as [a] summer kitchen. And then there were two slaves that lived in the auto house that’s down by Burnside’s Bridge, and that’s where Hilary Watson lived. And I’m mentioning these names because these happened to be men who were original members of Tolson’s Chapel. And as I started to do the research on the chapel, I realized that these slaves lived on these farms on Antietam Battlefield at the time of the battle. And one of the things that I like to talk about when I take people on tours – and you’ve heard this on your tour – is that the irony of these slaves on Antietam Battlefield was that they weren’t freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, [which] came out of the Antietam Battle that President Lincoln issued because Maryland was not a state in rebellion. And so the slaves in Maryland weren’t freed in 1863. They had to wait another year, more than a year, until November 1864 when Maryland finally outlawed slavery on its own.
[NR] Yeah. And that’s one of those facts that even for the ardent student of the Civil War, when you go to Antietam, you think you know the whole story. And then you go with someone like Edie Wallace and you realize you don’t know the whole story, and that there’s another big story to tell there, and how powerful that is. So how does Tolson’s Chapel figure into all of this? You start doing this research, and then you start finding these slaves, and you realize that they’re all associated with this one place as well. What is the story there? What is Tolson’s Chapel?
[EW] Well, Tolson’s Chapel is a Methodist church established by the African-American community in Sharpsburg. It was started as a mission congregation in 1865 by John R. Tolson, who was assigned to the Hagerstown Methodist circuit. In 1866, they built this small log chapel. It’s about 21 feet by 30 feet. It’s a very small building. It’s on the back street in Sharpsburg, very unassuming building. But in 1866 they opened their doors around Christmastime, according to a local newspaper, that they had laid their cornerstone in October.
[NR] So this was a church for former slaves. Did it serve– I mean, at the point they were former or they were still in bondage? I mean, how does it– it’s right on the edge, right?
[EW] Yeah. In 1866 Maryland slaves had been free for two years.
[EW] So they were all free men- and of course, in Washington County, it was maybe nine percent of the population was enslaved. There was a much larger free Black population in the county. It’s hard to say exactly how many of the original members of the congregation would have been previously enslaved.
[NR] But certainly some portion of them.
[EW] Yes, certainly. Yes. And we know for sure that Jeremiah Summers, who was enslaved on the Piper Farm, was a member. And Hillary Watson, who was enslaved on the Otto Farm, was a member. And Hillary’s wife “Teeny,” Christina, was enslaved in Sharpsburg. I don’t know who her owners were, but there are a number of others that we’ve identified in this cemetery, who were previously enslaved.
Tolson’s Chapel Becomes a School
[NR] So there’s a cemetery attached to Tolson’s Chapel. And did it also serve as an education location following the Civil War? Tell us a little bit about that.
[EW] Yeah, that’s one of the really special things about Tolson’s Chapel. In 1868, the African-American community of Sharpsburg asked the Freedmen’s Bureau, which was the federal agency that was assigned to the reconstruction of the South–which by then, included Maryland. They asked the Freedmen’s Bureau to please help them establish a school and they offered Tolson’s Chapel as the schoolhouse. So it operated for two years as both Freedmen’s Bureau School and [as] church on Sunday. The Freedmen’s Bureau provided the teacher. Initially, Ezra Johnson, a White man from Philadelphia came to teach. He was not very welcomed by the White community in Sharpsburg, but the black community were very happy to have him.
[NR] I would imagine. And what kind of education? We’re talking about reading? I mean, is that primarily what they were doing there?
[EW] No. The Freedmen’s Bureau required the teachers to submit monthly reports and so those are on record at the National Archives and can be researched. So we have Ezra Johnson’s initial reports. His first report in April of 1868. There were 18 students. And in that case, 12 of them had been enslaved before 1864. There was one student who actually was already reading, did arithmetic, and geography. The rest of the students were at elementary levels. And then in 1869, their teacher was a Black man who had graduated from Lincoln, I guess it was Lincoln College then. It’s Lincoln University now, which was the first African-American institution of higher education.
[NR] Do we have any sense for how he was received in the Sharpsburg community?
[EW] I don’t– I think that was a very different situation because he would have been boarded with the black families anyway. But in Ezra Johnson’s case, because he was a White man he was supposed to be boarded with white families. And they refused.
[NR] So where did Ezra Johnson stay? Do we know?
[EW] He stayed with the Black families.
[EW] Yeah. And then they, black families, had to support the school. It wasn’t paid for by the county, so they were paying a tuition and they paid for the teacher. They paid his salary and his room and board. This is all people who had two years before or four years before– some of them– [had] been enslaved. It’s just an incredible story to me.
[NR] And so, how long does it operate like that? How long does that go on for?
[EW] Until 1870. In 1870 Congress discontinued the educational wing of the Freedmen’s Bureau. After that it was up to individual counties to provide education for their Black students. Not every county, I think, came through with that. I’m not quite sure with Washington County what happened between 1870 and 1872. In 1872 they did finally appoint a teacher to what they called Sharpsburg Colored School, which was still housed in Tolson’s Chapel.
[NR] And how long was it there, then?
[EW] Through 1898.
[EW] So for 30 years it doubled as a church and school.
[NR] And then what happens in 1898?
[EW] The county built a schoolhouse dedicated as Sharpsburg Colored School. It’s still standing on High Street in Sharpsburg. It’s a private home now. But when you drive by it, you can tell that it’s a schoolhouse or was a schoolhouse.
[NR] And what happens to Tolson’s Chapel then? Does it just…?
[EW] It continued as a church.
[NR] It stays as a church. And how long does that take place?
[EW] It continued as a church, as an active church, into the 1930s or 40s. By the 1950s I think they were just having monthly services. By the 1970s they were down to three members still living in Sharpsburg and only doing their annual rally day service.
[NR] And then by the time you sort of “discovered” or “find” it in your research, what kind of status was it in?
[EW] Well, the last member of the congregation that was still living in Sharpsburg [was] Virginia Cook. She passed away in 1996. And in 1998 the United Methodist Church, which owned the property, deconsecrated the building. And that’s when they started looking for somebody to take ownership of it. It’s a little unusual. They were actually looking for a preservation group to take ownership.
[NR] That’s not always the case.
[EW] So they contacted The Washington County Historical Society, and that was Mindy Marsden who was the executive director at the time and …they couldn’t take it on, so she directed them to Save Historic Antietam Foundation. They agreed to take ownership of the property in 2000. And The Friends of Tolson’s Chapel formed as a committee within S.H.A.F., and then we finally formed our own non-profit in 2006.
[NR] Well when we come back– we’re going to take a break here, but when we come back we’re going to find out the rest of the story here. How Save Historic Antietam [Foundation] and then Friend’s of Tolson’s Chapel kind of coming together to save this place and what’s headed down the road in the future for Tolson’s Chapel. So we’ll be right back.
And now, it’s time for a Preservation Explanation
[Stephen Israel] The history of The Freedman’s Bureau in the post-Civil War United States is messy and complicated. At the start of the Civil War, there were close to 4 million enslaved people living in The United States at a time when the entire country’s population stood just above 31 million. The Freedman’s Bureau was the federal agency established to try and accommodate the massive transition that the abolition of slavery brought to American society, in particular in The South. The bureau faced many significant challenges in accomplishing their mission of rebuilding southern society after the union victory in 1865. Obviously, there were nearly insurmountable racial divisions, anger, and resentment among individuals and communities in the post-Confederate South. But another problem that faced the bureau was difficulty receiving federal funds. The bureau’s head Oliver Howard (also a founder in the namesake of the Washington D.C. historically-Black school Howard University) was a White, Maine-born, Union general. He was nicknamed “the Christian General” for his insistence that his faith helped him in all of his decision making. Howard, along with the Radical Republican faction in Congress, fought for a stronger support for the Freedmen’s Bureau against President Andrew Johnson, who took a lenient approach to Reconstruction. Johnson and other critics at the Bureau were able to keep the Bureau’s funding low to the point that at its peak, the Bureau had only a total of 900 agents working in all of the former Confederate states, Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Washington D.C. These agents were often the only representatives of the federal government in communities that had been ravaged by the war. There were of course successes, and losses wherever the Bureau worked. But the historical consensus was that it was not given enough time or funding to possibly be effective in the long run. Considering the long history of slavery in the United States, the Freedmen’s Bureau was dismantled by Congress after a brief seven years in 1872.
One element of the Bureau’s work that is still very relevant today is the mere act of documenting the millions of formerly enslaved people throughout the American South. Only as recently as June 19, 2015, the Freedmen’s Bureau project was launched as a crowdsourcing effort between Family Search International, the National Archives and Records Administration, the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, and [other partners]. The first stage of this project was completed a year later on June 20, 2016. And this means that the names of approximately 1.8 million individuals, that were collected in the original Freedmen’s Bureau’s records, are now searchable online. The project continues to work with volunteers transcribing scanned documents. This work is not only one of the largest crowdsourcing documentation efforts ever attempted, but it also is important because it allows modern-day American’s to easily find a connection with their roots in a way that used to be nearly impossible. This is, of course, only one way that people can connect with the history of Reconstruction America. For more, let’s get back to Nick and Edie, on PreserveCast.
[Nick Redding] This week’s episode of Preserve Cast is brought to you by Preservation Maryland Six-To-Fix. Six-To-Fix is an innovative program designed to help save threatened historic resources across our state. Preservation Maryland invests seed funding, expert professional staff, volunteer statewide advocacy, and outreach efforts to move projects towards a better state of preservation. Rather than creating lists of threatened buildings, we’re doing something about it. If you’d like to make a difference, join the cause today by visiting SixToFix.org. There you can learn more about the sites we’ve selected over the past few years, and make a donation to help save Maryland’s history and heritage. Together, we’re making a difference and saving the very best of Maryland.
Do you have questions? We may have answers. If at any point during this podcast you thought of a question you had for us, or maybe one of our guests, we’d love to hear about it. You can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll try and answer it right here on the air, on the next episode of PreserveCast.
S.H.A.F. Steps In
[NR] Hi, this is Nick Redding, and you’re listening to PreserveCast. We’re back, and talking with Edie Wallace about Tolson’s Chapel in Sharpsburg, Maryland. Really, in and of itself, a part of the Antietam story. And as we were saying before, for those of you who feel like you know Antietam, you don’t until you’ve seen Tolson’s Chapel, I think. So last we were talking, Save Historic Antietam Foundation accepted the property and then the Friends of Tolson’s Chapel get up and running as a non-profit and you have on your hands. What status is the building in at that point?
[EW] Well, the building at that point was- it was vacant. The property was being cared for by Reverend Ralph Munroe, who had grown up in Tolson’s Chapel. He became a Methodist minister. He didn’t preach at Tolson’s Chapel, he moved to another circuit. He was in Frederick County, in fact. But when he retired he came back to Sharpsburg and he was caring for the propety. So it wasn’t vandalized. It was pretty unassuming. It just looked like a shed, really, on the backstreet (as they call it) in Sharpsburg. At that time, I started my Master’s program in 1998. So in the year 2000 I was right in the middle of starting my thesis research. And at the same time Dean Herrin, who’s with the National Park Service (and at the time the Catoctin Center for Regional Studies) he was doing a history of the civilian impact of the Antietam Battle on Sharpsburg. And sort of all at the same time this discovery was made of this little building on the back street. And he had students that were researching Freedmen’s Bureau schools and found that Tolson’s Chapel had been one. It was like this perfect storm. We were all coming together at that same moment. And SHAF very kindly agreed to take ownership so that we could form this committee and take care of initial emergency preservation work on the building.
[NR] What did that work include, I guess roof or…?
[EW] No, the roof was fine. And that’s why the building was still standing, I think. Because it’s a log building. But this was primarily foundation repair, shoring up foundation, and replacement of the summer beam. And that was in 2003 that SHAF got a Maryland Historical Trust capital grant for the emergency repairs.
[NR] And then the siding itself, was that redone at some point, too? I mean, it seems pretty glistening and beautiful now.
[EW] Yeah. It is. It’s like shining on the hill.
[EW] There were a number of grants. This has been a really long road.
[EW] With our next grant in 2007, the building was covered with what I call asphalt shingle siding. It’s supposed to look like brick. So when that siding was removed, underneath that was the vertical board siding from the original board and batten siding, which is a common siding covering for log buildings in the mid-19th century. So we were able to remove the boards and save – I don’t know – maybe 20 percent of those, because of termite damage mostly. And then had the log structure itself repaired. There we were able to save about 80 percent. We had to replace maybe 20 percent of the logs. It’s a little bit unusual. It’s a braced frame log structure. It has four corner posts with diagonal braces, and then the logs are mortised and tenoned into the posts.
[NR] Any sense for why they would have done something like that?
[EW] No. You know, that’s not rare. I mean– but it’s not common. But it’s really common in Sharpsburg. Sharpsburg is probably 80% of the housing stock in Sharpsburg is log. And if you peel off the siding, I bet more than half of them are going to be that brazed frame.
[NR] Is that Germanic? Is that –
[EW] I don’t know.
[NR] Really? Yeah. I was just curious.
[EW] I wish I did know the answer to that. I like to think that it was– they were Black house builders in Sharpsburg and that was their style. I don’t know if that’s true. But that’s what they used for this building, and they did build their own building.
[NR] Interesting. So then, obviously, if you were able to save 80 percent, it held up pretty well.
[EW] It did.
[NR] And then put siding back on it, painted it, and now where are we at with the building? I mean, it’s in pretty good shape and the focus is on programming at this point, and sort of telling the story?
[EW] Yeah. That’s correct. We have a very comprehensive website thanks to the Local Convention and Visitors Bureau. We have a wonderful wayside exhibit thanks to Preservation Maryland and the Community Foundation of Washington County. Fingers crossed, we’ve just submitted an application with Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area for education program development. We are looking to put lesson plans on our website to be used by school groups across the nation because this is really a national story about reconstruction and segregation in the United States. Tolson’s Chapel is one of the rare survivors that’s documented at least at this point as a Freedmen’s Bureau school.
[NR] Any sense how many Freedmen’s Bureau schools are even left in Maryland, let alone the country, but I mean-…?
[EW] Well, surprisingly, I think Maryland is going to have the most.
[EW] But that may not be true.
[NR] Yeah, yeah, yeah. [laughter]
[EW] A lot of Freedmen’s Bureau schools were housed in churches, just like Tolson’s Chapel. And so it’s very hard to know from the outside what you’re looking at, whether you’re looking at a Freedmen’s Bureau school or not.
[NR] Until you do that research and you’re able to really confirm it.
[EW] Right. It’s a great deal of research.
[NR] Have you found many others yourself in Maryland?
[EW] In Maryland, there are two in Harford County, the Hosanna School and the McComas Institute. I think that there may be one still standing in Middletown. That’s a brand new discovery. But there in Middletown originally, the Freedmen’s Bureau school was in the church– the Asbury Church down on Jefferson Street. And in 1869, there was a newspaper report that they were building a new school. If they built it in 1869, the Freedman’s Bureau would have still been involved. And that building is still standing.
[NR] So for Tolson’s, I guess the next step really is kind of telling a broader story and getting education. And it sounds like you kind of want to take now this physical resource that you have that seems to be in pretty good shape– and I’m sure it always needs work, but it’s in pretty good shape– to tell that broader story that you’re talking about. If people listening to this want to visit Tolson’s Chapel, how can they do that? Is there a way for them to see it?
[EW] Well, we’re an all-volunteer organization. We’re small. So for the most part we are open by appointment, which is not a problem. You contact us at our e-mail address: tolsons (T-O-L-S-O-N-S) email@example.com and I will answer you. [laughter]
[EW] We have several of us that give tours that live right in the Sharpsburg area so it’s really easy for us to set that up. Through the season, we have no electricity or heat, so–
[NR] Very historic.
[EW] Yes [laughter]. Our season kind of runs from April through October. And we now have a programming director, Ed Bueller, our vice-president, who’s been very good about setting up at least one program a month on a weekend, usually a Saturday, in the chapel. A speaker, music, whatever. We have events–
[NR] And all of those, I guess, are listed on your website. And what is that?
[EW] The website is TolsonsChapel.org.
[NR] And so they can find that information there and if you have events coming up. And I guess spring and summer is a good time–
[EW] Even better is our Facebook page, which is much easier for me to keep current. It’s a little harder to keep the website current. But Friends of Tolson’s Chapel is our Facebook page. You can find us there and Like us. We like to expand our horizon there as much as possible.
[NR] Well that’s wonderful. Well, what a great story and also a positive preservation story. We hear about a lot of places that have been lost, or places that still need a lot of help. And obviously you guys are going to continue to raise funds to keep it in good repair, and to tell these stories, and to get more people aware of it. But it also though I think is a major preservation victory, not just for people here in Maryland, but all across the country. Because as you say, this is not just a Sharpsburg story or a Maryland story. It really is a national story of Reconstruction, and segregation, and education, and all of these big weighty issues. And you can use this one tiny little school and church to tell these big stories. It’s a–
[EW] Yeah. It’s remarkable.
[NR] Yeah. That story is definitely outsized in comparison to the size of that school. And I’ve had the opportunity to go there with you and it’s a powerful place. People talk about the power of place. You go in there and you realize that you’re standing in a place that really has not changed that much. And I think when I was there you guys had just sort of peeled back that there was a historic chalkboard in there too, which is pretty cool.
[EW] Yeah. So those have just recently been restored inside it. So they’re–
[NR] Okay. I don’t think I’ve seen that yet.
[EW] They’re very striking, these black liquid-slate blackboards on the two walls. I’m really excited about the interpretation of that school part of the story because it just took so much perseverance on their part to keep it going, you know. And these people who had just gotten out of slavery that were paying to get educated, to their children– to get themselves educated. It’s just really a remarkable story. And as one of the things that somebody said at one of our events that I really, really liked is that…Tolson’s Chapel– we’re within a mile and a half of Antietam National Battlefield. And, of course, all of Sharpsburg is really part of the battlefield. But Tolson’s Chapel is the rest of the story. You get that story at Antietam National Battlefield about the Civil War, about the fact that it really was about slavery at that point.
[NR] And it’s the battle that leads to the Emancipation Proclamation and your site is where that takes us then, right?
[EW] Yeah. And you just – you come over to Tolson’s Chapel and you see the rest of that story. What happened when all the slaves were freed? What did they do? How did they create their community?
[NR] Because the story doesn’t just stop with, “And then four and a half million slaves were freed.” This is where that story then continues. And then they had to educate themselves. And then they had to lift themselves out of this disaster that was slavery. Well, we always ask folks particularly from Maryland who drop into the studio about their favorite structure in Maryland which it seems like a silly question having just spent almost 35 minutes talking about one structure because I feel like I know what the answer’s going to be [laughter]. But maybe you’ll surprise us if you tell us what is – and it doesn’t have to be Maryland. But if you had one favorite historic structure, what would it be?
[EW] I’ve been pondering this since last night because this is really hard because I adore Maryland. And I adore all parts of Maryland [laughter]. I grew up in Frederick. I live in Washington County in Sharpsburg. I’m surrounded by the C&O Canal and Antietam Battlefield.
[NR] A lot of choices.
[EW] Yeah. And I’ve worked in St. Mary’s City as an archaeologist. I worked there in the ’80s.
[NR] And that’s for people who don’t know that’s the first capital of Maryland, the colonial capital.
[EW] So that really that was the first thing that popped into my head was St. Mary’s City. And I love St. Mary’s County. But really I’ve been all over the state looking at structures, and I love it all. It’s hard for me to pick out one, but Tolson’s Chapel.
[NR] There it is. There it is. We knew it.
[EW] It’s in my heart. It’s in my soul.
[NR] I can see why. It’s a special place. And you know, working at Preservation Maryland, we get to see a lot of structures and that one… I think for a lot of our staff, still sticks out as just a really powerful place. It’s where the power of place makes a lot of sense. When you say that term, it’s easy to throw that out there. But then you go to places like Tolson’s Chapel and it makes a lot of sense. And as you say, it’s the rest of the story to Antietam. And if you’ve been to Antietam many times and haven’t been to Tolson’s Chapel, then you really haven’t seen all of Antietam yet. Would you agree with that?
[EW] I would agree [laughter]. I urge people, contact me and come to Tolson’s Chapel after your visit.
[NR] Awesome. Well Edie, thank you so much for dropping into the studio, sharing your story, and telling us all about Tolson’s Chapel. And on behalf of people who care about preservation, thank you for all the work that you’ve put in. To not only document and save Tolson’s Chapel but all the historic places that you have been able to tell the story about. Thank you.
[EW] Thank you, Nick. And thank you, Preservation Maryland.
This podcast was developed under a grant from the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, a unit of the National Park Service. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Preservation Maryland and the Maryland Milestones Heritage Area and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the National Park Service or the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training.
This week’s episode was produced and engineered by Ben and Stephen Israel. Our executive producer is Aaron Marcavitch. Our theme music is performed by the band Pretty Gritty. You can learn more about them at their website: PrettyGrittyMusic.com, on Facebook, or on Twitter @PG_PrettyGritty.
To learn about Preservation Maryland or this week’s guests, visit: PreservationMaryland.org. While there, you can check out our blog and learn about what’s current in historic preservation. We’re also on Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, and Twitter @PreservationMD. And of course, a very special thank you to our listeners. Keep preserving!