July 10, 2017
The spread of clean energy technologies is the wave of the future, but where exactly should wind and solar plants go? Nick sat down with Elizabeth Watson and Janet Christensen-Lewis of the Kent Conservation and Preservation Alliance in Kent County, Maryland, to discuss their experience working to find alternative locations for wind turbines away from Kent County’s scenic and historic farmland. Janet and Elizabeth are tackling a difficult problem, but they believe that the necessary move to clean and sustainable energy does not have to mean erasing our past. This is PreserveCast.
[Nick Redding] Wind and solar energy are technologies of the future. But where should wind turbines and solar panels actually go? Today, we’re joined by Elizabeth Watson and Janet Christensen-Lewis, two preservationists out of Kent County, Maryland and Six-to-Fix partners of Preservation Maryland. Elizabeth and Janet are working to protect Kent County scenic and historic farmland and open spaces, to ensure that a sustainable future doesn’t have to mean erasing our past. This is PreserveCast.
From Preservation Maryland Studios in the historic podcast district of Baltimore, this is PreserveCast!
[Nick Redding] This is Nick Redding and you’re listening to PreserveCast. Today we’re going to be talking about the intersection of renewable clean energy and historic preservation, and the areas in which it can work together well, and the areas where there is some conflict. And to have that discussion, we’re going to have two people into the studio today who are intimately familiar with these issues. We have Janet Christensen-Lewis, who hails from the Eastern Shore of Maryland where she has bumped into this issue. And we also have Elizabeth Watson, who is a long-time historic preservation planner and someone intimately familiar with the need to save and protect America’s countryside. [She] actually wrote a book on that. And so, we’re going to be talking with them about all things renewable energy, and how that impacts our historic open spaces, and historic buildings and structures as well. So, it’s good to have both of you in the studio. Welcome to PreserveCast.
[Elizabeth Watson] Thank you.
[Janet Christensen-Lewis] Good to be here. Thank you, Nick.
[NR] So, we normally try and set the stage – and the table, I guess – by finding out how the folks that we’re interviewing got involved in this field of historic preservation and so I thought we would open that up. Elizabeth, I don’t know if you want to take stab at that first, and tell us how you got to where you are today.
[EW] Sure. Well, my mother loved butterflies and old buildings, and I loved the outdoors and became a whitewater paddler. I went off to Penn State to learn to be a planner, so I could train for the United States Whitewater Team. And [I] fell in love with historic preservation just as I left Wake Forest University and continued to study it at Penn State.
And I wound up working for the National Trust for Historic Preservation by sheer good luck when I married and moved to Washington, D.C. And that was a really great experience. I got to work on something called the Whole Preservation Catalog. It was like taking a post-doc in historic preservation. And I wrote an information sheet for the National Trust on conservation easements, back when you still had to stand up in front of an audience and tell that audience what a conservation easement was. Today, it’s assumed that’s common knowledge. And from there, moved on to the Rural Program of the National Trust, and that was where we were figuring out, how do you take historic preservation – this is in the early ’80s. How do you take historic preservation and put it into rural communities? A very different kind of approach. Most people, even today, still assume that historic preservation is mostly in cities. So I became one of the experts through that process in looking at cultural landscapes, is what we call them today.
[NR] Yeah. And I think that there’s still – like you say, there’s still a misunderstanding that historic preservation is more about the urban areas. And that, to some extent, is even perpetuated by people in the field. I think that we focus a lot on community, and renewing, and revitalizing urban areas when our rural areas need as much help – if not more help – because oftentimes the resources just aren’t there.
[EW] We’ve had a lot of progress, I think, in the last forty years.
[EW] We’ve had scenic byways, we’ve had trail preservation, trail building, rail trails. We’ve had heritage tourism, Main Street programs. So there are a lot of programs for small communities.
[NR] Yeah, no doubt we’re doing a lot better than we were. But there’s a lot of room left to grow and evolve there. We see it a lot in our work, particularly with our Six-to-Fix program. In the rural areas where the resources are just – it’s difficult to come by to be able to put these things together. The foundations and those sort of things are often times aren’t there to support that kind of work. So it’s important stuff, Janet.
[JCL] I am kind of learning from Elizabeth. I mean, I’m the one that’s following her. When I moved into a rural area, into this farmland it was more about… You know, I always wanted to live on a farm; I’m a city girl. I came from a city. I was instantly attracted to Kent County and I didn’t know why. But as we’ve gotten into this and I’m learning from Elizabeth all of the things going forward I know why now I’m so attracted to it, I love what’s going on there. So that’s important and I think, when you guys were talking about urban areas being the focus, I think when you get out into the rural farmland that we live in people just don’t understand how important it is. That that was the beginnings. People came to cities, of course, but they were surrounded by these rural landscapes. And even people who live there take it for granted, they just see it as open space and nothing important. So it’s become very important to me, and now I’m kind of getting very centered on why it’s so important, and what I’m looking at, and what I’m feeling.
[NR] Yeah. I think that’s a similar path for a lot of people. They realize they love it, and then they get all consumed in a project, and then they take a step back and say, “What about it? Why am I so compelled and so involved in this?” I think that’s a very standard path that we hear about, taking a step back and realizing the – or trying to figure out the why?
[JCL] And I have a good teacher, Elizabeth.
[NR] Yeah. Absolutely. So you gave us a little foreshadowing there about you kind of got all consumed and involved in this effort. Janet, do you want to tell us about what the project is that got you jump started in the preservation and what you were dealing with in Kent County? And for those people who aren’t from Maryland. Kent County, Maryland, it’s the smallest county in Maryland, right? By land mass and probably –
[NR] – by population as well. And it’s on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, which is across the Chesapeake Bay at the eastern side of the State. Very agricultural, very flat, but a beautiful area and extremely historic as well. So tell us what happened in this sort of bucolic preservation paradise of Kent County.
[JCL] About two and a half years ago someone said to me, “Did you know that somebody’s going to come into Kent County and put up turbines across the county?” And I said, “I’d heard something about it.” And they asked me, “What do you think?” And I said, “Well, I’ll let you know. I’m studying this. I’m looking at it. I want to investigate it. I want to see what I think about it.” Which I did, and six months later I was one of the founding members of an organization called Keep Kent Scenic and we were in opposition to 500-foot wind turbines, 99 megawatts going across something like 7,000 acres of our farmland.
[NR] I can’t imagine why you’d be opposed to that [laughter]. It sounds great. So 500 foot, is that what you said?
[NR] Can you give us – what is that for people to put that in their mind? What is that similar too? Is there something you could give us an analogy or -?
[JCL] The tallest span on the Bay Bridge, I think, is 488 feet. I can’t remember what the Washington Monument is.
[EW] Something like that.
[NR] Close. So we’re talking mega tall. This is like a skyscraper.
[JCL] With flashing red lights on top of it, of course.
[NR] And 7,000 acres of them.
[JCL] Yeah. They’ll be spread out over 7,000 acres.
[NR] And so you were opposed to it but you didn’t leave it there. You help found a group and then what happened?
[JCL] We moved forward very rapidly to form opposition to it. We went to the park, to the farmers market every week. We put up signs and we got together a coalition very, very rapidly. We wrote to the governor, we wrote to the PSC. I mean we became a force.
[NR] And the PSC is the Public Service Commission?
[JCL] Correct. And we went to the people that were putting it up and we said, “We oppose this. It’s against our county zoning, ordinances. If you want to put up wind turbines here, you can. But they can’t be that tall and they can’t be that many.” Kent County was one of the first counties to actually put in place a renewable energy standards and zoning for it and what we would and wouldn’t accept in our county. We don’t preclude utility-scale solar nor do we preclude wind. But you can’t do it at the scale they were going to do it, at the height they were going to do it. So we formed pretty rapidly and we began to cut off their avenues for leasing land because we went to farm owners and we said, “You know, this is what this is going to look like. This is how close it’s going to be to your house. There is issues with flicker, there are issues, there [are] a lot of birds. There was a lot of issues going on. This is our flat farmland, which you will be able to see this from Baltimore if you were looking across”. I mean that’s how flat we are because we’re right across from Baltimore. And we gathered together a sizable group of people.
[NR] And so that initial proposal goes down. Is that right?
[NR] And then what happens?
[EW] Well, it didn’t quite go down. This is Elizabeth. One of the things we learned in that process was that the Maryland Public Service Commission had the ability to preempt local zoning. And that’s still an argument out there in the courts but it’s been more or less the practice and the expectation. Ours was the first fight over this kind of issue. It’s other things that happened. The wind did not go away. It just disappeared. This is something that a lot of people oppose. Wind energy across the country, we actually don’t know because it morphed into solar. I’ll let Janet pick up the rest of the story.
[JCL] So one of the major farms… Well, they went to a lot of farm owners who they already had wind leases with. And those farm owners were not willing to give up their land for solar because that means you have to cease everything on it. But they did find some land. They were able to lease and then they had to actually buy a piece of property in order to put together the 370 acres of farmland that they wanted to put solar on. And they moved forward with that case even with our opposition. I mean we told them it was against county zoning. It was in a heritage area. It was on some of the most prime farmland in Maryland and it was really a prime piece of property. And we said, “You know, this isn’t going to fly. We don’t want this.” And eventually, they went to the PSC, they asked for preemption, and we had to have a full case. We fought against it, Kent County fought against it, and we waited and waited for the decision. And the public utility law judge, who heard the case, decided against Apex Clean Energy who was the company that was pursuing this. And the project went away.
[NR] Let’s take a step back here from this particular issue and kind of look at it on a global level for those people who maybe are outside of Maryland listening in here and looking for some hints or some tips from what you experienced. So you’re as preservationists, you’re not opposed to green energy. That’s one of the big sort of fallacies, I guess, out there is that these folks who are fighting these sorts of things. They don’t recognize the challenge of global warming or of climate change, right? But that’s not what you’re suggesting. You’re not opposed to the technology itself, but it’s really the placement, right?
[JCL] Right. And could I just mention that Kent County has per capita some of the highest renewable energy resources in all of the State of Maryland? We pioneered on-farm use and we pioneered rooftop use. We have a lot of people in Kent County that have that. We also have community solar projects. We have five of them in Kent County, where that is actually really benefiting the community. And our renewable energy task force that formed looked at those things and actually pushed for those things to happen. They made those resources available. It’s easy for somebody to put a unit, a net meter, a solar project on their property. They can choose where the land is the best to put that. I mean, they get to do that. We have them all over Kent County.
[NR] Right. So it’s really about the placement of these large utility scale, where you’re changing the whole landscape. And, I guess, Elizabeth, that kind of gets to the whole question of why preserve cultural landscapes, right? And I think it would be interesting to hear from you about that. But first, why don’t we take a quick break? And when we come back, we’ll talk with Elizabeth and Janet some more about this. But, particularly, we’ll look into why is it that we should protect and preserve our cultural landscapes, and what the heck is a cultural landscape anyway? We’ll be right back here on PreserveCast.
And now, it’s time for a Preservation Explanation
[Stephen Israel] Did you hear how tall those wind turbines were going to be? Taller than the spans on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. As it happens, Preservation Maryland’s Waxter intern Maggie Pelta-Pauls was recently featured on the Maryland Humanities: Humanities Connection Segment on WYPR radio reading her original essay on the history of the Bay Bridge. In case you missed it when it was on the air, here’s Maggie’s reading:
[Maggie Pelta-Pauls] The Chesapeake Bay separates the two sides of Maryland – the mainland and the Eastern Shore. And prior to the building of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, they were relatively isolated from each other. The only routes to the rural Eastern Shore were through Northern Maryland up and around Elkton or by ferry across the Bay. Both long, tedious trips. In fact, most folks from the Eastern Shore instead traveled to Wilmington, Delaware or Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for work, shopping, and services.
From the 1920s through the 1940s, ferries were the most efficient and practical way of crossing the bay. But as more and more people traveled to the Eastern Shore, the ferries could no longer handle the demand. Backups of cars waiting for the ferries would stretch for miles. Proposals for a bridge spanning the Bay appear as early as 1907. By 1927, plans have been approved to build a bridge between Baltimore and Tolchester Beach in Chestertown, Kent County funded by the business communities on either side. However, following the Stock Market Crash in 1929, these plans were scrapped. Nearly ten years later, in 1938, the Maryland General Assembly passed legislation authorizing construction of a bridge between Sandy Point, now Sandy Point State Park in Anne Arundel County and Kent Island, but building was postponed until after the War. Finally, in 1947, construction began. Designed and overseen by Herschel H. Allen of Maryland-based J.E. Greiner Company Construction, the bridge took five years to complete.
At its peak, the roadway is 186 feet above the water and the top of the suspension towers are 354 feet from the depths below. Its unique curve is a result of the fact that the Army Corps of Engineers would not approve the structure unless it crossed the shipping channel at a 90-degree angle. At 4.2 miles long, it was the largest over-water structure when it was built, and the third longest bridge in the world. Ten thousand spectators flowed in to watch the dedication of the bridge on July 30th, 1952. A car parade led by then-Governor Theodore Roosevelt McKeldin crossed the bridge marking its official opening. It was named after a Governor William Preston Lane, who during his time in office had spearheaded efforts to construct the bridge. The second westbound span was completed in 1973.
In earlier years, the ferries could only transport a few hundred thousand cars across the Bay per year. When the Bay Bridge opened, it carried 30,000 vehicles across in the first three days. Now, it transports 20 to 30 million cars per year. Trade opened up between the eastern and western shores, aiding agriculture and industry on either side, creating an economic link that unified the state like never before. The Bay Bridge earned three times the business of the ferries and paved the way for other bridges spanning the Chesapeake. Today, the only ferry that remains is the Oxford Bellevue Ferry near St. Michaels.
[SI] All that talk about the Bay Bridge makes me want to stop by on my way down to Annapolis for the Old Line State Summit. This Wednesday, July 12th, the U.S. Naval Academy will host Maryland’s Annual Historic Preservation Conference. There will be a full day of training and talks on pertinent preservation issues, as well as a live recording of PreserveCast, where you will have the opportunity to potentially be featured in a future episode. You can find out more and register online at OldLineState.org.
Also, I should mention this week’s episode of PreserveCast is brought to you by Preservation Maryland’s 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 time, statewide advocacy, and outreach efforts to move projects towards a better state of preservation. Rather than creating a list of threatened buildings. We’re doing something about it. If you would like to make a difference, join the cause today by visiting SixtToFix.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. If your community or organization is engaged in preserving a unique and historic place and could use some help, we welcome you to apply to be part of the next class of Six-to-Fix projects. Applications will be accepted until Friday, July 28th, 2017 at 5:00 PM. Together we’re making a difference and saving the very best of Maryland.
[NR] This is Nick Redding. You’re listening to PreserveCast and we are joined today by Janet Christensen-Lewis and Elizabeth Watson, and we’re talking about the intersection of renewable clean energy, and historic preservation, and cultural landscapes. And before we took our break, we were just about to get into a conversation with Elizabeth about cultural landscapes and maybe trying to define what is that. It’s not just any old farm, I don’t think. And if there is indeed such a thing as a cultural landscape, why should we preserve it? So what do you say to all of that?
[EW] Well, as a consulting community planner and actually a volunteer with Janet on this project, I work with communities across the country to help them connect to their place, to help them understand that legacy, and understand what kinds of actions they can take to protect that legacy. In rural communities, what’s interesting about that is that the land itself can be historic. And so the patterns on the landscape, circulation patterns, the way farms are laid out, how farm buildings were situated on the land, all of it is a response. And every place is a cultural landscape, frankly. It’s really a response to the materials and the climate and the place, and its response to the economic imperatives that are happening around you. Kent County, for example, had an 1868 railroad that changed its landscape and you can see that layer of a landscape. This is, we think, about a 400-year-old working landscape. We were settled in 1650 in Maryland and it’s been farmed ever since and farmed pretty profitably. It’s about 57 percent prime farmland in that county. That’s more than the well-known county of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. So we have a very high proportion of extremely good soils, and you can see that in the landscape today. The farm houses are very large and well-kept even to this day. So you can see different influences over the landscape in terms of styles and time. There is early eighteenth century buildings and brick in our landscape as well as frame houses built in the 1920s. So you can see the evolution of that landscape and it’s all a response to all the different particularly local conditions that are happening.
[NR] So you can document them. They are real. Because, I mean, I certainly don’t think this but there are those out there who say, “Well, they’re just pointing to an old farm.” But there are components to these things and not everything is a intact cultural landscape. But in Kent County, there are quite a few that hold a high degree of integrity.
[EW] That is correct. We believe that the area in which this particular project was situated is one of the best examples on the Eastern Shore of these long-time working landscapes that exist out there. And we’re planning a project to study that. I think it’s complicated but the open space piece of this, nothing is really open space. It’s not open, it’s farmed. And so that’s one of the things that when you look at the map of Maryland and you look at Kent County and you’re Apex [Clean Energy] and you’re going, “Wow, look at that. There’s nothing there. We can build there.”
Well, there is a very active high-value farming community there that made decisions two generations ago to protect that land. It drew new farmers into the area and we have a very high-value farming economy in that area, which we were concerned about in having that affect it. So you have to study these landscapes and really understand what’s going on and that you’re looking at.
[NR] Right, and also I guess you should, generally speaking, anywhere around the nation, if you have really high-value soils you’re probably going to have a good concentration of historic structures and things associated with it, because that’s an area where you’re going to have a long term investment in [agriculture] because there’s money to be made there.
[EW] That’s quite true, Nick, and I think the thing that people need to understand about the argument that we had with Apex and those who were supporting renewable energy is that there is plenty of land to build renewable energy on across this country. It’s a question of where can we protect wildlife habitat in these cultural landscapes, in these farm economies, and concentrations of small rural habitations. Those are areas where it may not be appropriate to build wind turbines or to build these huge utility scale facilities that can affect these communities. But you have to really be thinking about it and a lot of these communities are thinking – up until now have been surprised by it. It was something, in fact, that I was not tracking until this happened to Kent County. But it’s happening across the country.
[NR] Yeah, it’s happening really quick and I mean in some sense this is sort of a new type of sprawl. It’s an energy sprawl and I think the challenge is that a lot of times it’s greenwashed, right? So it’s suggested that, “Well this is a good thing.” But there’s a lot of good reasons to build different things that they can’t all go in the same place. I also heard that the head of the Maryland Farm Bureau said, “Why is it that every new idea has to use farmland?” And I think she then went on to say, “Why not put all these solar panels on soccer fields?” And well, no, that’s a terrible place for them. Well it’s the same point here, right? There are other places. And Elizabeth, you were kind of getting at that, that there are a lot of great places to put this. Janet, do you have any – I know the group has been looking at this. Where else could they go?
[EW] In Maryland, if you look at the APA Website, there is over 100,000 acres of brownfield, superfund sites, and landfill. Six thousand in landfill alone. Also, if you start to look at these really large projects, Maryland wants to create jobs. But if you look at what people have done in studying where jobs come from, it comes from manufacturing, and it comes from small community projects, and it comes from rooftop. It does not come from large utility scale, because once those are in place they are monitored remotely. You know, if you want to bring jobs, that wouldn’t be the place to put it.
[NR] So like most things, when you take a nuanced look at a project or an issue, there are really great ways of doing it. But perhaps the simplest large scale giant blundering approach is not always the best for a community [laughter].
[EW] Not. Not.
[NR] So there are other places to do this, brownfields, all those sort of things. Any sense for why they don’t? Why are we seeing them head towards farmland instead of a brownfield?
[JCL] It’s cheap. It’s flat. It’s already cleared. And it just makes sense to put it there because if you have to work… A lot of the brownfields and superfunds sites are actually close to the population centers that need the energy, but it makes it more difficult. And in some cases the land has to cleared up. It has to be cleaned. It doesn’t have to be as clean as what would happen if you were going to put housing there, but there has to be some kind of clean up. Maryland actually has laws that will absolve people that take brownfields and clean them from any future – if something else comes up later, they don’t have any liability. So there’s ways to do it, but it’s so much easier just to come over and there’s a big piece of property there and there’s nothing there.
[NR] Right. I guess it’s the same reason that on the other side of the preservation community if I were to ask the question, “Why don’t they just rehab all these older historic structures instead of building new buildings on farmland?” It’s the same paradigm, right? “Well, it’s just simpler just go out and you plop up a building.” Instead of going through the process or rehabbing a structure, which requires thought and involvement and a real solid plan and a proforma and it’s just harder. Right?
But I think often times what we’ve seen is that that harder projects end up with a better result. You end up with a better end product, but it just takes a long time to get there. And, I guess, maybe the question here to put a point on this for people listening is if you had some words of wisdom or some tips for people across the country who are dealing with these issues and are sort of struggling to protect the character of a community, their cultural landscape, historic structures, that are really threatened by these types of new energy developments, what have you learned in your experience over these past few years in Kent County dealing with this that you would want to pass on? And maybe I’ll throw that question to Elizabeth first and then Janet can take it too.
[EW] Sure. I think one of the things to roll back to is Janet mentioned the heritage area. Maryland has a wonderful state level program for identifying important landscapes throughout the state. There’s eleven or twelve now, one of which is Baltimore, but one of which is a four-county area called the Stories of the Chesapeake Heritage area, which Kent County is one of. We were lucky in this.
We had done a plan back in about 2003. We did this study of the entire four-county landscape and divided it up into twenty-five different areas and went out and looked at how much was being preserved already. And it gave us some indicators as to where some of the more scenic landscapes were, some of the more historic landscapes were. It wasn’t a full-fledged cultural landscape assessment, but we had an indicator. And I had known of this area in Kent County from that project because I was involved in the planning back then. And it really is one of the more… [It] has as a high-density of inventory properties, Maryland inventory historic properties, 255, eighteen different things listed in the National Registry including another village in the area. So, we knew that it was already chalk-full of individual sites, but we didn’t understand, and we still don’t really. We didn’t understand how this landscape worked together.
And so we’re actually raising funds now for a study to actually do that. We were able to use that plan back then to persuade the public utility law judge that this was an important landscape, and he actually agreed with our concern about the screening – some people listening might be wondering, “Why can’t we just build, you know, a screen around it?” Well, this is a highly open landscape. There are not a lot of even hedge rows left. Some of those have been removed over the years and putting up what they were planning was going to be a real impact on our landscape. So there may be ways to hide some of this in other landscapes where there are more trees, but there was not a really good way of hiding this.
[NR] So, I guess part of what you’re saying, though, for people listening around the country is get your planning done –
[NR] – and work on that now. Now’s the time to do it. If you don’t have a problem yet and you’re living in an ag area, now’s the time to start looking at what your resources are and if you’re seeing problems start pop up, you need to start to understand your landscape a little bit better. I know you folks are working on a great project to really kind of even drill down even further and to begin to really document these resources because not only is it prime soil, but it also appears to be an area that is prime for these types of projects to come in and try and utilize the land in that way. So, I mean, from your point, which it should not surprise us as a preservation planner, you would say to get your planning done. But it’s a really valid point; it’s important to know what your resources are. Because you’re going to be called on in a situation to explain, “Well, why is it worth saving?” And you need to have a pretty good answer when it comes to that, which, fortunately, you were able to put together for that. Janet, did you have any other thoughts?
[JCL] Yeah. I just wanted to say part of your planning process should be to look at your county and see where you can put projects. Where is the land that’s available that is not going to impact your heritage?
[NR] So, your answer isn’t just, “No, nowhere.” It’s, “Not right here, but how about here?”
[JCL] Correct. I mean we have areas in Kent County that we have set aside that utility scale solar can be there. It may not be a 100-megawatt project that you can put there but that may not fit within our small, rural county. But we have two utility scale solar projects that are already on the books for 10-megawatts that we’ve put through planning and zoning in our county, which are about to go forward. But what we can’t tolerate is projects like the one that wants to sit on the outside of Chestertown that has just now come before the PSC, but we’re fighting this again –
[NR] This is another little town. For people listening, this is another little town in – decent size town, but a historic town in Kent County.
[JCL] And it’s in the National Register and this is 375 acres sitting on the – right at the gateway to this historic town, which is not zoned correctly even though we have land that is zoned correctly. So again, Kent County, Chestertown, and us are gearing up for that. But as you put these things in place make sure that you allow it where you can. Obviously, we need renewable energy. And that you stand very strong and pat against those things which are going to destroy your community.
[NR] Yeah. I think that’s good advice. Speaking of historic places and historic communities, before we let anyone leave the PerserveCast Studio, we try and nail them down on their favorite historic structure in Maryland, which for most people who work in preservation is like choosing a favorite child [laughter]. But be that as it may, we’re going to try and make you both tell us what your favorite historic structure is. And I suppose it can be favorite historic place since we’ve been talking about cultural landscapes so much as well and I know that that’s a favorite topic of both of yours. So, we’ll throw it out to whoever is willing to take it first.
[JCL] Well, I’ll keep it local. I mean, White Hall. But then for a cultural landscape –
[NR] And where is White Hall? Tell people about that.
[JCL] White Hall is on the Chester River. It’s in Chestertown and it’s been preserved over time. It’s a beautiful brick structure with gardens that are around it. It’s really lovely to go inside of there and most of it has been kept intact as it is. But, for a landscape, obviously, Annapolis is pretty iconic. On the hill and –
[NR] Yeah. We get Annapolis a lot. We get the State House a lot.
[EW] The State House is a great choice. I’m going to pile on to Janet because I think White Hall is at the center of Chestertown, which is the county seat for Kent County and it’s also actually a National Historic Landmark District. And what’s wonderful about Water Street, which is where White Hall is situated, and many people know the view of Chestertown as you cross the Chester River Bridge, you’re coming into Chestertown and you’re looking across at this beautiful landscape of these early houses. Those were built, most of them, either during the eighteenth century or just after when there was a sort of an economic boom after the American Revolution and the establishment of the Constitution and some good things were happening. So, you had these merchants who were along there building Whitehall and all the others.
And then, what I look for is the stories, and one of the things about Water Street is that those houses on the land side was open space that the merchants were using. Well, at the end of the Age of Sail around the turn of the century, they sold off and the other side of Water Street was developed. There’s only one house on the other side of Water Street that is actually eighteenth century. All the others were built after 1900 and after they ended the Age of Sail. And it’s quite a remarkable street to walk along and think about this sort of sweep of American history that you can see in just one place.
[NR] All right. You’ve sold it. I think anybody who isn’t from Maryland is going to Chestertown now [laughter].
[EW] I hope so. [laughter] We hope so.
[NR] Now, if people outside of Maryland or even in Maryland for that matter want to get a hold of either of you, how would they do that? Elizabeth, how can they in touch with you?
[EW] Well, I’m a principal with Heritage Strategies LLC and we have a website. It’s www.HeritageStrategies.com, all one word. Heritage Strategies.
[NR] Okay. Great. They can find you there and get in touch. Janet, how about you?
[JCL] Kent Conservation and Preservation Alliance has a website. It’s KentAlliance.org. So, you can get on there, you can look at that, and you can also contact me through that by going to – it says “Contact Us.”
[NR] Perfect. All right. Well, this has been wonderful. We really appreciate both of you stopping in with us and sharing your insight into this important and increasingly difficult area of historic preservation and we also appreciate all the good work that you’re doing out there in Kent County to save a place that really, truly matters. So, thank you so much.
[EW] Thank you.
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 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!