On the banks of the Patuxent River in Prince George’s County, Mount Calvert provides opportunities for those who want to get their hands dirty with excavation on Saturdays from April to October each year. This public archeology program is currently uncovering the 18th century ruins of Charles Town, which served as the county seat for Prince George’s County from 1696 to 1721. Yet, archeological evidence reveals that this place was occupied by American Indians from the Archaic Period (7500-1000 BCE) through the Woodland Period (1000 BCE-1600 CE). After Charles Town gradually dwindled in size, Mount Calvert functioned as a tobacco plantation—dependent on the labor of enslaved blacks—from around 1780 to 1860. In its prominent spot on the Patuxent River, Mount Calvert also played a role in the War of 1812, and the layers of soil and artifacts help to tell the stories of the many individuals who lived and worked here through the years. Contact Mount Calvert to set up an archeology program for your group, or register to become a volunteer with Mount Calvert’s public archeology program online through The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission website. You can also contact Kristin Montaperto to discuss volunteer opportunities and for help getting started. Volunteers must be at least 14 years old, but archeology programs for groups are open to all ages and can be tailored to a particular group’s interests or curriculum.
Star-Spangled History: On the evening of August 22, 1814—after seeing the Chesapeake Flotilla scuttled at Pig Point—Admiral Cockburn arrived at Mount Calvert, where he ordered a contingent of marines, marine artillery, and seamen to disembark and aid the British army marching from Upper Marlboro to Washington. Mount Calvert was occupied by British naval forces while British troops burned abandoned public buildings in Washington, including the White House. After the British forces left the Patuxent, Mount Calvert continued to play an important role by serving as a place where the US Navy could salvage, sort, and ship materials from the scuttled American vessels, including the USS Scorpion, just upriver.
While you visit: Mount Calvert offers panoramic views of the Patuxent River, and it is accessible by water. You can rent and launch a canoe or kayak at nearby Patuxent River Park (Prince George’s County residents receive a discount on rental). Visitors can dock a small vessel at Mount Calvert, but the park does not permit launching of vessels. Mount Calvert’s grounds close to visitors at dusk.
Inside the Federal-style plantation house, built around 1790, you will find an exhibit entitled “A Confluence of Three Cultures” which brings together information about the life-ways of American Indians, English Colonists, and African Americans at Mount Calvert. The exhibit is free and open to the public on Saturdays (10 am to 4 pm) and Sundays (12 pm to 4 pm) from April through October. Please make prior arrangements with staff if you would like to set up an exhibit viewing for a group on another day. Available year-round, an interpretive trail—made up of signs placed around the grounds—narrates the history of the landscape for visitors.
Contact: Kristin Montaperto – 301-627-1286 – Kristin.Montaperto@pgparks.com