It was all very hush, hush. “Meet in the center parking lot in Centreville,” the email said, “and we will lead you to the destination.”
The email came from Mary Margaret Revell Goodwin. Her efforts to fulfill a dream and create the Maryland Museum of Women’s History at the Bloomfield Manor at the County Park was documented in a story the Spy wrote last month.
Even as we published Revell Goodwin’s amazing chronicle, there were hints of problems between those in favor of the Museum and some on the town council who were opposed. It soon became evident that it wasn’t going to work out, and Revell Goodwin made the painful decision to move on. Within hours she began receiving comments on social media, phone calls, and emails from people across the county angry with the Commissioners. Besides explaining what had occurred, there was a lot to take care of, including moving everything out of the house that was not to be. It was past 10 PM that evening when Revell Goodwin fired up her computer and found one concise message: “Mary Margaret if you think the house would work and you would be interested, call me.” THE house turned out to be Locust Hill, and the message was signed by Jack Ashley, who, together with his brother Phil, owns the property.
Which brings us back to the email, and the people gathered at the parking lot who learned that this was to be a dual celebration, as it also was Revell Goodwin’s 83rd birthday. They had been invited because they were the first believers in the mission that Revell Goodwin had set out to accomplish in opening her Museum. “In December of last year, I decided to sell the first memberships to the Museum,” she said. “I did not push it but sold quite a few even though I explained how there would be limited events for the time being. But so many wanted to show their support, including almost all of the League of Women Voters (LWV) of Queen Anne’s County who purchased memberships.
So, these supporters, caravanned to the new building which would house the Maryland Women’s History Museum. As they looked around, one of the attendees, Mary Ann Jackson, said, “My family has been farming in Queen Anne’s County for over 100 years. To turn this into a museum is just beyond words.” Her sentiment echoed the feeling held by others in the group. However, no one was surprised that Revell Goodwin was able to make it happen. After all, as we learned in doing her story, she is quite a powerhouse with a remarkable history of her own.
As for the Museum, the plan is to present their first exhibit around January/February in the Slave House on the property. Thanks to a donation from the previous owners, it will feature 1900 pictures of Locust Hill and the young girl who lived there with her family. “We will also be honoring the former slaves and servants who kept all the major houses here working,” says Revell Goodwin. “We know most of the names of those who worked at all those houses and even have photos of some of them. Some of their descendants are still here in the area!”
The Museum will also have responsibility for the graves and cemetery and the garden, which are both extensive and historic. Before the house itself can fully open to the public, there is much to be done. Fire suppression will need to be added, and an ADA (American Disability Act) wheelchair accessible bathroom will need to be built. But, unlike Bloomfield Manor, the house does already have water, sewer, electricity, and solar power. “All in all, we have a whole lot of wonderful work ahead of us,” says Revell Goodwin. “Give us time to get our breath and watch what will emerge! We have more surprises in store for everyone.”
Val Cavalheri is a recent transplant to the Eastern Shore, having lived in Northern Virginia for the past 20 years. She’s been a writer, editor and professional photographer for various publications, including the Washington Post.