46th Annual Historic House Tour


12-101-church-alleyCome spend the day in historic Chestertown! The doors to a selection of National Landmark Historic District homes will be open to you for the 46th Annual Historic House Tour. The houses are open Saturday, October 1st from 1pm to 5pm. Tickets are $25 in advance, and also available the day of for $35. All tickets are available beginning at 11am at the Bordley History Center, located across from Fountain Park at 301 High Street. Reservations for the tour are recommended. Please reserve by phone at 410.778.3499 or by visiting the Society website at www.kentcountyhistory.org

This year’s tour will feature the following homes/churches:

1. Janes United Methodist Church

2. 106 South Queen- Bedingfield Hands House 

3. 106 Cannon Street/Garden- Bennet House

4. 106 South Water Street- Hynson Ringgold House

5. Custom House

6. 104 North Water Street- Turner/Crawford House

4-106-s-water7. 102 North Water- Wroth-Allspach House

8. 102 High Street- Wallis-Wickes House, Garden will also be open

9. 116 High Street- Buck-Bacchus Store

10. 101 North Queen Street- Hurst House

11. 119 North Queen Street- Ostrander House

12. 101 Church Alley- Geddes Piper House

13. Emmanuel Church

Geddes-Piper House Contents Up for Auction


Russum’s Furniture Auction will be selling a large portion of the Historical Society of Kent County’s Geddes-Piper House Museum contents at their auction house located in Crumpton (2017 Dudley Corners Rd. Crumpton, MD 21628) including furnishings, rugs, paintings, furniture, and artifacts of every type. The date has been set for Saturday, August 20th beginning at 9 am, with a preview of the items on Friday the 19th from 3-7 pm. Some of the items can be seen online at www.auctionzip.com/md.html.

For further information, contact Amanda Tuttle-Smith at (410) 778-3499. Or visit http://www.crumptonauctions.com/

Announcement of Position Opening and Search for Executive Director


historical societyThe Historical Society of Kent County seeks an Executive Director to assume overall management of programs, facilities, staff and volunteer workers. Principal among the executive director’s responsibilities will be interacting with the elected board of directors to develop strategies to effect the Society’s evolving vision for service to its community. Key concerns include expansion of membership and acquiring resources to support programs and projects.

Candidates for the position should have academic training and work experience in fields related to the work of the Society: history, historic preservation, library science to name a few. Candidates should present a record of success as volunteer leaders and/or staff members of not for profit organizations. The work of the executive director requires effective communication skills: oral, written, and digital competencies.

The Society occupies the Bordley History Center in the heart of Chestertown, the county seat of Kent County. A small part-time professional staff manages, with the help of volunteer docents and archivists, exhibits,education programs, archives/library, and a shop. Regular programming includes an annual historic house tour, historic walks, member receptions in historic houses and other spaces, and monthly lecture series. More information about the Society can be found at kentcountyhistory.org.

The position of executive director is part-time, averaging 15 hours per week, and includes some evening and weekend involvement. Compensation is set at the rate of $20,000/year.

Submission of a letter of interest describing pertinent experiences and a resume are required for review of candidacy. Information may be submitted by surface mail or email.

Executive Director Search Committee
Historical Society of Kent County
PO Box 665
Chestertown MD 21620

Historical Society Furnishings to be Sold at Auction


With the sale of the Geddes Piper House soon to be consummated, the Historical Society of Kent County has closed its house museum and sent most of its furnishings to auction.

“We have retained those items we could identify as being from Kent County,” explained deputy executive director, Amanda Tuttle-Smith. The bulk of the Society’s clothing collection was donated to Towson University, where it will be part of the University’s permanent collection. The balance of the furnishings and other items have been returned to individuals who had loaned them or sent to auction.

The porcelain tea pot collection, two early 19th century maps, and two items of furniture will be auctioned by Alex Cooper Auctioneers at 12 noon on Saturday, July 23, at 908 York Road, Towson, Maryland. The items are included in Cooper’s online auction catalog available at www.alexcooper.com.

The bulk of the furnishings, including rugs, paintings, furniture, and artifacts of every type, will be sold by Dixon’s Furniture Auction in Crumpton. No date is set yet but is expected to be on a Saturday in mid-August. “So many Society members and people in the community wanted to purchase items that we decided the best and fairest way would be to have the items for auction locally,” said Tuttle-Smith.

For further information, contact Amanda Tuttle-Smith at (410) 778-3499.

Farewells at the Historical Society of Kent County


historical kent countyThis will be a busy summer at the Historical Society, with the departure of the Executive Director, Susanne DeBerry Cole, and the sale of the Geddes-Piper House, the Society’s former headquarters. The Deputy Director, Amanda Tuttle-Smith, will be calling on volunteers to help organize a farewell party for Susanne, the annual Legacy Day festivities in August and repurposing furniture and items from the house museum.

Dr. Susanne DeBerry Cole, who has ably led the Society for more than a year, will be relocating to Wisconsin, where her husband has accepted a position as Vice-President of Student Affairs at Marquette University. In addition to her responsibilities at the Society, Dr. DeBerry Cole taught history at Washington College, specializing in gender and world history.

While at the Society, she oversaw the physical move from the Geddes-Piper House to the new downtown headquarters in the Bordley History Center. With this enlarged space for lectures and exhibits, she ensured that the prime corner location presented engaging displays. Dr. DeBerry Cole also began a youth reading program at local elementary schools which will continue in the fall. Society President, Stephen Frohock praised her service, saying, “Susanne brought a rare combination of scholarship, common sense, and a real desire to engage with both residents and visitors to Kent County. We especially appreciate her efforts to engage school children in our activities.”

Mr. Frohock also confirmed that the Society has sold the Geddes-Piper House to a family with deep ties to Kent County. Settlement is expected in August and thus the last day for public tours will be Saturday June 25th. The building served for decades as a house museum, but with limited exhibit space and no accessibility for the handicapped, it was no longer suitable for the Society’s programs. In line with current preservation policies, members decided to return the house to its original use as a warm and inviting family residence.

The Society will be working over the summer to revise job descriptions and search for a new Executive Director, a part-time position with primary responsibility for strategic planning, development, and public outreach. While the library moved last year to handsome new facilities in the Bordley Building, the Society also will need to make the Geddes-Piper House ready for the new owners. This will involve “de-accessioning” most of the furnishings and a great deal of house cleaning. Amanda Tuttle-Smith reminds the community to visit the Geddes-Piper House before it closes on Saturday, June 25, 2016—and also invites local residents to volunteer for the Society’s various committees and programs. Information is available on the Society’s webpage: www.kentcountyhistory.org or by phoning 410-778-3499.

Contact: Deputy Director, Amanda Tuttle

Bordley History Center Hosts Talk on 1954 Chestertown Fire


On the morning of July 16, 1954, Kent Manufacturing, a locally owned business which had made munitions for the government and fireworks after the war, suffered a massive explosion.  Blasts went on for over thirty minutes and a huge fire followed.  When everything was over, eleven local residents had died.  Despite the shock of this event, it was not the first of its kind in Chestertown.  Local production of fireworks goes back to 1920.

Join us June 3 at the Bordley History Center, 301 High Street at 4 PM and learn more about the local history of the munitions industry.  Programs start promptly so be on time to be sure to have a seat.

Historical Society to Offer Lectures at Chestertown Tea Party


At the invitation of the Tea Party Committee, the Historical Society of Kent County will present three lectures, given by Mark Croatti, during Tea Party weekend.  The subjects include: ”The Articles of Confederation: America’s First Constitution”; “The 14 Presidents Before George”, and “Annapolis, the Bridge between the Revolution and the Constitution”.  Additionally, Benjamin Franklin will be in attendance to give his views on the lectures!

 Mark Croatti

Mark Croatti

The first lecture is scheduled at 4PM on Friday, May 27 at the Bordley History Center, 301 High Street, seating is limited to the first 50 people.  (America’s First Constitution)

The second lecture is scheduled at 5PM Saturday, May 28 at Town Hall, second floor, 118 N. Cross Street.  Please reserve a seat by calling 410-778-3499.  At this event, a presentation will be made to Louisa Duemling, who is a direct descendent of Pierre du Pont who wrote the draft of the Treaty of Paris.  There will also be a recreation of the signing Treaty of Paris! (14 Presidents before George)

The final lecture is scheduled for 12:30, Sunday, May 29 at the Bordley History Center, 301 High Street.  Seating is limited to the first 50 people. (Annapolis: the Bridge between the Revolution and the Constitution)

Mark Croatti teaches American government and foreign-policy related courses at the American University, George Washington University, and the United States Naval Academy.  He also covers politics for Annapolis magazine and is the Director of the Annapolis Forum.

Christopher Lowell has appeared as Benjamin Franklin since 2004 coast-to-coast and abroad He presents in both English and French.

These are lectures that you do not want to miss! Please ensure to arrive early to reserve a seat for the lectures given at the Bordley History Center.


Heads Up: Spring Programs at the Historical Society


Spring is here and there is no better time to take a historic stroll through Chestertown with the Historical Society of Kent County! After a long winter, the Geddes Piper House Museum, located at 101 Church Alley, is once again open for public visits Saturdays 1pm to 3pm through October. This 18th-century home is filled with period antiques and local history. If something outside is more to your liking the Historical Society of Kent County also offers group walking tours of historic Chestertown. Reservations are required for the one-hour walking tour, groups must have a minimum of four people, and tickets are $15 in advance.

Looking for a historical orientation to the county? Come view our new permanent exhibition “Discovering the Key to Kent County” at the Bordley History Center located at 301 High Street, Wednesday through Saturday 10am to 3pm. The exhibition is possible due to the financial support of the Stories of the Chesapeake Heritage Area and the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority.

For more information about any of these programs please visit www.kentcountyhistory.org, call 410.778.3499, or visit the Bordley History Center at 301 High Street, Chestertown, MD 21620.

Author Kate Livie to Speak at Kent Historical Society Happy Hour April 1


Crassostrea virginica, the eastern oyster. These humble bivalves are the living bones of the Chesapeake and the ecological and historical lifeblood of the region. When colonists first sailed these impossibly abundant shores, they described massive shoals of foot-long oysters. But the bottomless appetite of the Gilded Age and great fleets of skipjacks took their toll. Disease, environmental pressures, and overconsumption decimated the population by the end of the twentieth century. While Virginia turned to bottom-leasing, passionate debate continues in Maryland among scientists and oystermen whether aquaculture or wild harvesting is the better way forward. Today, boutique oyster farming in the Bay is sustainably meeting the culinary demand of a new generation of connoisseurs. With careful research and interviews with experts, author Kate Livie presents this dynamic story and a glimpse of what the future may hold.

Kate Livie is a professional Chesapeake educator, writer, and historian. An Eastern Shore native, Livie is passionate about the Chesapeake Bay’s culture, heritage, and landscape. She currently serves as the director of education at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Maryland, and writes for the Chesapeake Bay Journal and beautifulswimmers.tumblr.com. Join us for History Happy Hour. 4PM Friday, April 1 at the Bordley History Center, 301 High Street and learn more about preserving the oyster. Please arrive early to ensure that you will have a seat!

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