The Second Public History Workshop was a great success. It was held in the George Washington House at the Anacostia Watershed Society on the 12th of August. It was attended by nearly 40 interested citizens and historic preservation professionals from all over the Washington-Metro area. It began with a presentation of Bladensburg history by Prince George’s County historian Susan Pearl. She covered many topics of interest including historical stories, figures, and buildings of Bladensburg’s past. Her visual presentation included many fantastic maps, photographs and paintings related to Bladensburg’s history most of us had never seen before.
Some of the topics included:
-Photographs of the 18th century houses that stood in Bladensburg until the mid-Twentieth century including “the Parthenon”, “the Ross House”, “Blenheim”, and “the Dieudonne House”.
-The story of Margaret Adams, an African-American innkeeper of Bladensburg, whose inn was favored by George Washington
-The story of the portrait painting of Elizabeth Tasker Lowndes by American portraitist Charles Willson Peale
-Images and descriptions of the 18th and 19th century mills that used to exist near Bladensburg
-Maps of the train lines, trolley lines and roads that connected Bladensburg to both nearby communities and national transportation networks.
Her presentation provided many details about Bladensburg history, while also demonstrating how much there is to learn.
Michael Roller gave a presentation describing some of the preliminary findings of the excavations of the Market Master’s and Magruder Houses. The presentation began with a description of the process of site excavation. While analysis of site soil stratigraphy, field notes and artifact collections has not yet begun, a few interesting artifacts noted during recovery or washing were photographed and described in the presentation. Among them were:
-A Native American stone tool dating back to 5000 years ago
-A creamware teapot fragment dating to the 1790’s with a portion of an inscription reading “When this you see, remember me, And bear me in your mind. Let all the World say what they will. Speak of me as you find.”
-A Civil War-era Bullet and Navy Button
The night ended with a question and answer session that included the recollections of a few long-term resident of the town or surrounding community. Many thanks must be given to the Anacostia Watershed Society that contributed space, logistical help, and promotional materials for the workshop.