18th Century & Antebellum Period
Charles Town on the Patuxent was first established in 1683 and became the seat of government when Prince George’s County was established in 1696. Five more port towns (Marlborough, Queen Anne, Mill Town, Nottingham and Aire) were established in 1706, and Piscataway in 1707. Although little remains from the original settlements of these seven port towns, a number of older structures and sites of structures represent them: Piscataway Tavern, Darnall’s Chance in Upper Marlboro, Mount Calvert at the site of Charles Town, and Harmony Hall at the site of Aire.
From the period of the establishment of Prince George’s County until well into the twentieth century, agriculture was the basis of the county’s economy and directly or indirectly provided the livelihood of its residents. Tobacco was the principal crop and created wealth for the leading families of the county. The tobacco heritage is exemplified by the barns of early plantations like Concord, Wyoming, and The Cottage. Other agricultural efforts are represented by Seton Belt Barn, the Ashland Hay Barn and the stable at Villa de Sales.
Earliest Plantation Establishments
Earliest settlements were along the waterways, near the seven early port towns, and near the parish churches. Large tracts of land were developed into plantations; some surviving plantation houses from this early period are Mount Airy and Harmony Hall.
When Prince George’s County was established in 1696, two parishes of the Church of England were already in existence: St. Paul’s Parish on the Patuxent River, and Piscataway Parish on the Potomac. Early churches survive in both of the original parishes: St. Paul’s at Baden and St. John’s at Broad Creek. One Roman Catholic Church survives from the Colonial period: Sacred Heart Church at White Marsh.
As the population of the County increased, the Church of England parishes were divided and more places of worship were built. Public places of worship were built for Roman Catholics after 1776, and the nineteenth century saw the rise of the Methodist Episcopal Church. There are fine examples of these nineteenth century churches across the County. New churches were built in the early-twentieth century, often to replace older churches on the same site.
Ecclesiastic Architectural Styles
Although none of the earliest churches and chapels, which were most commonly of frame construction, have survived, there are notable examples of a range of architectural styles used for religious buildings throughout the County.
Special activities, programs, and events are held at our Historic sites throughout the year.