Mount Calvert Historical and Archaeological Park

Mount Calvert Historical and Archaeological Park

Mount Calvert is one of the most significant historical and archaeological sites in Prince George's County. Its rich archaeological and historical resources represent over 8000 years of human culture. Archaeological evidence shows that American Indians were present from the Archaic Period (7500-1000 BC) through the Woodland Period (1000 BC-1600 AD). Early Archaic hunters and gathers visited the Upper Patuxent River to harvest the river's natural resources. Later, Woodland Indians farmed the land and lived in permanent villages along the river until the 1600's when European settlers arrived.

The English colonial town at Mount Calvert was established by the 1684 Act for the Advancement of trade. It became the county seat when Prince George's County was organized in 1696 and was renamed Charles Town. By 1710, an Anglican Church, courthouse and jail had been built. At the riverfront wharves, ships brought goods from Europe in exchange for tobacco. Ordinaries (taverns) provided food, drink, and lodging to planters and merchants. In 1721, the county seat was moved to Upper Marlboro. Charles Town gradually disappeared and Mount Calvert became a ferry landing.

Between the 1780s and 1860s, Mount Calvert was a tobacco plantation. The brick plantation house (built in the 1780s) housed the families of the various plantation owners, John Brown, John Brooks and Samuel Berry. The Mount Calvert plantation depended on slave labor. By the mid-1800s, fifty-one enslaved African-Americans lived and worked on-site.  Today, an interpretive trail and a museum exhibit tell the story of Mount Calvert's past. Signs along the trail highlight American Indian cultures, colonial Charles Town, a 19th century, African-American history, the War of 1812, and the Chesapeake Beach Railway. Located in the restored plantation house, the exhibit, A Confluence of Three Cultures, depicts the life-ways of American Indians, English Colonists, and African-Americans at Mount Calvert. Artifacts such as stone tools, pottery, glass beads, shells, bones, tobacco pipes, glass bottles and shoe buckles help reveal the stories of past cultures.

Relic or artifact collecting is strictly prohibited.

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Hours

The grounds are open daily from dawn to dusk.

The exhibit is open April through October, Saturdays, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Sundays, 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM, Weekdays by appointment.

(Note: Many places fill to capacity on busy, nice weather days, especially holiday weekends. Please call ahead or visit the official website to get the most up-to-date information before visiting.)

Fees

Admission is FREE

History

On August 22, 1814, the British landed about 500 sailors and Royal Marines at Mount Calvert. From there, they marched to Upper Marlboro to join the British army and attack Washington, DC.  The Royal Navy occupied Mount Calvert until the invading troops returned from Washington.  This followed the battles on St. Leonard Creek between the British and Com. Joshua Barney’s US Chesapeake Flotilla. Barney and his men eventually blew up their “mosquito fleet” to keep it out of British hands.  After the British left the Patuxent River, the US Navy used Mount Calvert as a site for sorting and assembling materials salvaged from Barney’s Flotilla.

Mount Calvert’s archaeological resources span 8,000 years of human culture. Evidence uncovered by archaeologists show that American Indians were present from the Archaic Period (7500-1000 BC) through the Woodland Period (1000BC to 1600AD). Over the years the Indians exploited the rich resources of the Patuxent River and established villages along its shores. An English colonial town was established at Mount Calvert in 1684. The town became the Prince George’s County seat in 1696 and was re-named Charles Town. In 1721, the county seat was moved to Upper Marlboro and Charles Town gradually disappeared. From 1770 until the Civil War, Mount Calvert was a typical Southern Maryland tobacco plantation based on enslaved labor. A 1780s plantation house is all that remains and now serves as a museum featuring an exhibit called A Confluence of Three Cultures. 

 

Activities

The park features ongoing archaeological and historical research and provides programs and hands-on activities for the public. Hiking is also permitted.  If you are interested in volunteering at the Mount Calvert Historical and Archaeological Park or participating in the public archaeology program, please call 301-627-1286.

The site is accessible by water via canoe and kayak. The house and museum exhibit are open April through October on Saturdays from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

Facilities

House and museum exhibits.

Events

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