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 followed by 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.
As early as the establishment of Prince George’s County until vast development in the 20th century, agriculture remained as a strong component of the county’s economy providing for the livelihood of its residents directly and indirectly. Tobacco was the principal crop and created wealth for the leading families of the county. The barns of early plantations like Concord, Wyoming, and The Cottage exemplify the tobacco heritage. 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 existed along the waterways near the seven early port towns and near the parish churches. Large tracts of land were turned into plantations with two plantation houses that can still be seen in 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 survived 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 developed for Roman Catholics after 1776, and the 19th century saw the rise of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Fine examples of these 19th century churches exist across the county. New churches were built in the early-20th century, often to replace older churches on the same site.
Ecclesiastic Architectural Styles
Although none of the earliest churches and chapels 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.