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Prince George's County

Saturday, June 222024

10:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.

Please note that the private homes on this tour are not ADA accessible and we recommend care when walking on walks and lawns and along public roads–we thank the owners for opening their homes to tour goers. Pilgrims assume responsibility for their own safety

when driving, parking and walking on the tour.


By Their Hands Prince George’s County,

Maryland borders on the eastern portion of Washington, D.C. and is the second most populous county in the State.  Its population is diverse, with African Americans making up nearly 65% of its nearly one million residents. The tour spotlights the contributions of African Americans to the cultural and historical landscape of Prince George’s County, both past and present, and in both public and private spaces.  Running largely along a historic corridor of the rural tier of the county, the tour will provide a unique opportunity to bear witness to the skills, crafts, and artisanship of African Americans in agriculture and gardening, woodworking and blacksmithing, stitchery, and artwork. As always,

the tour will shine a spotlight on architecturally and historically significant structures and gardens for their intrinsic beauty and value.  However, with a wider aperture setting, the tour will invite a deeper appreciation of the richness and diversity on which Prince George’s County has been built and continues to thrive.


Chair:  Thomasina V. Rogers, 202-258-8942, Committees:  House and Properties Selection: Thomasina V. Rogers. Flowers: Gay Scott, and St. Thomas Parish Altar Guild. Publicity: Regina Thomas, Gregory Gill, Sandra Wiseman, and Jack Thompson, Junior. Roadmarking: St Thomas Parish. Tour Photographer:  Pamela Smart. Script: Thomasina V. Rogers, Stephanie Locke, Regina Thomas, Janice Diggs, and Jack Thompson, Junior. Treasurer: Debbie Richardson.


Special Project: The enhancement of the gardens at St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church of Croom, one of the earliest Episcopal churches in Southern Maryland. Our second special project is to provide funding for establishment and maintenance of ancestral gardens in the Town of Eagle Harbor, which includes the historic Trueman Point. This work has begun and will continue under the direction of Bonnetta Adeeb, UJAMAA Cooperative Farming Alliance. 


Lunch:  11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.  at St. Thomas Episcopal Church of Croom, Site #4. Indulge in a delectable, boxed lunch that celebrates the intersection of food with African American culture and history while learning about traditions and activities associated with foodways of African Americans. Lunches are based on recipes from the following cookbooks: The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture Cookbook, The African-American Heritage Cookbook, The Historical Cookbook of the Negro by the National Council of Negro Women, Inc. Both vegetarian and non-vegetarian lunches will be available and include a choice of drink and dessert. Secure your choice by making reservations by Monday June 17th, 2024. The cost is $15.00 per person and your reservation will be confirmed with a check. Please mail checks, payable to St. Thomas Parish, to St. Thomas Parish, Attention: MHGP Lunch Reservation, 14300 St. Thomas Church Road, Upper Marlboro, MD 20772.                                                               

#1. The Town of Eagle Harbor

The Town of Eagle Harbor:


It is most appropriate that the Prince George’s County “By Their Hands” tour is anchored at Eagle Harbor, the site of the ancient river port of Trueman Point.  It was at Trueman Point Landing that enslaved men and women disembarked in outsized numbers to meet the demand for cheap forced labor to cultivate and export tobacco. They spoke no English but brought with them an enduring strength and resilience as well as the seeds of remembrance that both connected them to their places of origin and held the promise of survival in a new and challenging land. Initially serving Aquasco farmers as a river port for shipping lucrative tobacco throughout the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries, Trueman Point at Eagle Harbor experienced a rebirth nearly a century ago to become a waterfront resort community for Africans Americans seeking to escape Jim Crow restrictions prevalent at the time in the Washington, D.C. area. Exploration of the Town of Eagle Harbor offers an unencumbered view of the passageway that Patuxent River remains and glimpses of a community’s struggling to hold on to its cultural identity. Through the crops growing in its garden, one can trace the history of seeds in transition from Africa to their arrival on the shores of the Patuxent River. The river view, from the shoreline or from the Community Center where the Town’s official business happens, invites all visitors to imagine the centuries old stories whispered on waters that flow gently past.

#2A. P.A. Bowen Farmstead

15701 Dr. Bowen Road, Aquasco 20608.


The Farmstead features grass-based livestock and the production of fine artisan raw cheese. Situated in the gentle hills of Maryland’s Prince George’s County, this diverse multi-species farm seeks to mimic the patterns of nature using old-fashioned grazing techniques coupled with modern technologies. The different animal species work symbiotically to heal and build the soil, and to produce nutrient-dense foods that heal and nourish. Hormones, growth- enhancers, pesticides and herbicides are never used on the P.A. Bowen Farmstead. In 2009, Geoffrey Morell and Sally Fallon Morell purchased the ninety-five-acre Maryland property with the goal of creating an integrated farm that not only supplies high-quality, pasture-fed products, but also serves as an engine for the economic revitalization of the whole region. At the P.A. Bowen Farmstead, all animals are provided with a habitat that allows them to thrive: pigs root through the forests; broilers in their “chicken tractors” and hens roaming freely work over the pastures recently grazed on by the dairy herd; and the beautiful Jersey cows, milked just once a day, are given new pasture daily. The grain mix fed to pigs and poultry (and in very small amounts to the cows) is non-GMO and soy-free, and mostly locally grown. The newly renovated tobacco barn at P. A. Bowen Farmstead is available for events such as weddings, fundraisers, and corporate picnics. The Farm Store will be open for the purchase of farm products.


The P.A. Bowen House is just a short walk above the P.A. Bowen Farmstead Farming Operation.

#2B.  The House at P.A. Bowen Farmstead

15701 Dr. Bowen Road, Aquasco  20608.


Mr. Philander A. Bowen purchased what was then the Aquasco Mill Farm with its two-story house (built in the late 1600s) in 1862 from George Allen Turner. Mr. Bowen built the existing house in 1870, retaining the older house to serve as the pantry and kitchen. The property

remained in the Bowen family until 1927. The house has a Federal-era side-hall and double parlor plan typical of many planter houses in Prince George’s County, combined with Victorian-era Italianate detailing. The first floor has thirteen-foot ceilings and features a grand staircase and three-paneled pocket doors separating the parlor from the dining room. In 2009, the property was purchased by Geoffrey Morell and Sally Fallon Morell who renovated the house throughout, restoring many of the original details while enlarging the library and primary bedroom, replacing the enclosed porch on the west side, installing a modern gourmet kitchen, and furnishing the house with period antiques.

#3. Sweet Water Creek Homestead

11100 Brookes Reserve Road, Upper Marlboro 20772.

Although by comparison a modern house —designed by noted Maryland architect Ray Sobrino only thirty years ago—the Sweet Water Creek Homestead connotes the feeling of an old soul. Reflecting the owners’ deep roots in the post-antebellum south where stately homes were decidedly  out of their reach are its four-columned facade, screened porches, balconies, outbuildings, and ample gardens—both vegetable and ornamental. Sweet Water Creek could easily have been swept up from Alabama by some magical wind gust and dropped on the rural tier of Prince George’s County, smack dab in the middle of a densely wooded twelve-acre lot through which a shallow creek winds as it transports its daily wildlife travelers. The formal gardens, installed at the home’s birth, complement the natural habitat in supporting the

myriad of birds, butterflies, bees, and other creatures that call Sweet Water Creek home. Together they give credibility to the 30-year old Maryland certification of Sweet Water Creek as a Wild Acre habitat. The grounds have been landscaped to include a sacred spirit garden, a gazebo butterfly garden and a garden house that celebrates the life and legacy of Fannie Lou Hamer (1917-1977), a Mississippi sharecropper, who also was a community organizer, a women’s rights activist, and a leader in the civil rights movement. Vegetables and herbs grown in the garden reflect the heritage of African American growers throughout the diaspora and often make their way to the table in the form of traditional cuisine that is centuries old. Likewise, many of the ornamental plants, like the multiple varieties of magnolias and crape myrtle, keep Sweet Water Creek tethered to its southern roots. The interior of the home boasts African American artisanship and craftsmanship that span well over one hundred years showcasing the woodwork and metalwork. The stitchery, upholstery, artwork and other decorations reflect a penchant for bold colors. But oh, the porches—where great and small issues are debated, where hair is braided and sweet tea is sipped, where the gardenia and the magnolia vie for olfactory attention, where it’s okay to rock and nap in the late afternoon to the sound of hooting barred owls and be proud to be called “country.”

#4. St. Thomas Episcopal Church and its Mission Church for African Americans
14300 St. Thomas Church Road, Upper Marlboro 20772.

St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church, and its Mission Church for African Americans, 14300 St. Thomas Church Road, Upper Marlboro 20772. Built from 1742-1745, with additions made over the succeeding century, St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church of Croom is a cruciform brick church with Gothic Revival stain glass windows and a tall, centered entry bell tower. It was the home church of Thomas Claggett, the first Episcopal Bishop consecrated in the United States, and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. By 1890s when St. Thomas was already 150 years old, St. Simon’s Mission was established as its mission church for African Americans. Started as a Sunday school for African American children of the St. Thomas’ Church Parish, it was a wood framed, front-gabled meeting-style church. In 1902 St. Simon got its first fulltime vicar who served not only St. Simon, but also St. Philips in Aquasco and St. Mary’s in Charlotte Hall in St. Mary’s County. Notably, Pauli Murray, who became the first African American

female priest to be ordained by the Episcopal Church of America, had roots in St. Simon’s. Frequently, spending summers as a child with her aunt and uncle during the time her uncle was St. Simon’s vicar, she went on to wear many hats of historic dimension— champion for justice giving voice to the unheard, educator and promotor of racial reconciliation and economic parity, civil rights and the women’s rights activist, historian, poet, author, and lawyer. She was canonized a saint by the Episcopal Church in 2018 and was the subject of 2021 documentary, My Name Is Pauli Murray. When integration came to the Parish in 1964, the two churches merged, St. Simon’s Chapel closed and many of its members began attending St. Thomas’ for the first time. The vicarage was demolished later in 1970. What remains of St. Simon’s are its cemetery where generations of members are buried and a tranquility that bespeaks of a quiet and determined people who gathered there to worship, and the families who are now an integral part of St. Thomas.’ A common communion cup shared between the once separate

congregations, fulfills a dream of reconciliation that Pauli Murray envisioned. Of note is the fact that the church was heavily supported by tobacco with which its members could tithe, a fact that is heavily documented by a parishioner Franklin A. Robinson, Jr. in his epic book entitled “Faith and Tobacco, A History of St. Thomas’ Episcopal Parish Prince George’s County.”

#5. UJAMAA Cooperative Farming Alliance at the Tayman Field
UJAMAA Cooperative Farming Alliance is located across the road from St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church.  

The UCFA began farming at Taymen Field in the Spring of 2022. The farm brings together BIPOC farmers, both beginning and advanced, from across the DMV to grow culturally meaningful heirloom seed varieties. Taymen Field, which employs regenerative farming practice, has three primary objectives: to restore lost ancestral agricultural heritage of African Americans and indigenous peoples, to showcase traditional growing practices, to identify and grow rare or lost seed varieties. Additionally, UJAMAA seeks to provide learning opportunities for young people. This 5-acre plot will include a tree nursery, food forest, bee apiary, forest farming, and growing trials.

Columbia Airfield.jpg
#6.  Columbia Air Center

16091 Croom Airport Road, Upper Marlboro 20772.


In 1941, Dr. Coleridge M. Gill, along with Cloud Club flying club, became the first African Americans to operate a licensed airport in Maryland. Notable members and aviation pioneers included Herbert H. Jones, Jr, John Greene, as well as big band leader Jimmie Lunceford. The Columbia Air Center operated from 1941-1956, on land that is now part of Patuxent River Park.

The airfield, originally called Riverside Airfield, hosted the military and a Civil Air Patrol squadron during World War II and afterwards continued as a center of aviation for generations of African Americans before its close in 1956. Learn about the legacy of Black Aviation that started out of Columbia Air Center and spread throughout the region. Columbia Airfield is a hidden historical gem. It was run by aviation pioneer John W. Greene Jr. and Tuskegee Airman Herbert Jones, providing a real chance for Black folks who wanted to be pilots. John W. Greene Jr. started the Cloud Club, a flight group that bought a 450-acre spot in Croom, Maryland, and paid just 50 bucks a month. Willa Brown, the first Black woman with both a pilot’s and commercial license, played a part in bringing the air center to fruition.

Columbia Air Center was the biggest Black-owned airport in the U.S., home to the Columbia Squadron, the first Black Civil Air Patrol squadron in D.C. It was a go-to spot for Black residents to get their pilot’s licenses when other places, like College Park Airport, would not admit them. During World War II, the U.S. Navy took it over for pilot training, with some Tuskegee Airmen in the mix. It had 5 runways, 3 hangars, 10 planes, and a Civil Air Patrol chapter. John Greene ran a tight ship, and they didn't have any fatalities. It kept going until 1956 and then was acquired by the National Parks and Planning Commission in 1959.

#7. Charles Duckett Freedman Log Cabin

Charles Duckett Freedman Log Cabin is located in The Patuxent Rural Life Museums, Patuxent River Park—Jug Bay Natural Area,

16000 Croom Airport Road, Upper Marlboro 20772.


The Duckett Cabin, a one-room side-gabled structure that measures about sixteen by fourteen feet and likely built between 1840 and 1910, is a rare surviving example of a chestnut log tenant farmer house. The cabin design is called “one-up and one-down,” describing the construction of one room with a loft. Charles Duckett, an African American who had formerly been enslaved, used only logs that were hand hewn and squared, joined at the corners by full dovetail notching and chinked with a white cement mixture. When Pilgrims are entering through its five-foot high batten door, they will be transported back more than a century and a half. This cabin originally stood on the plantation of Henry B.B. Trueman for which Trueman Point in Aquasco was named. Trueman’s was a small plantation on which small amounts of tobacco as well as other crops were grown. According to census data from 1860, his labor force nevertheless

consisted of ten enslaved laborers. In 1970, Trueman’s descendants donated the log cabin to the Patuxent River Park in Croom where you now stand. Research sheds some light on the possible residents of the cabin. Duckett likely married another formerly enslaved person, Juliet Blake Gross. Juliet’s son Lewis Gross and his wife Georgianna lived on the Trueman farm until the 1920s and may well have been the final residents of the cabin, along with Charles Duckett’s widow.

#8. Mount Calvert Historical and Archaeological Park
16801 Mt. Calvert Road, Upper Marlboro 20772.


Mount Calvert offers pilgrims a unique journey back in time.  The town of Mount Calvert was established in 1684 and became the county seat when Prince George’s County was created in 1696. The very essence of Mount Calvert as a grand and stately dwelling with its grounds was derivative of the dominance of tobacco as a crop and the enslaved African Americans who farmed it. By the 1800s, fifty enslaved African Americans lived and worked on the site and substantially enhanced its worth to prospective purchasers. That Mount Calvert could fulfill its birthright under the Act for the Advancement of Trade was largely dependent on the enslaved African Americans who lived, worked, and are buried there. Artifacts found in a now-restored plantation house reveal the stories of African American past culture.

#9. Content Homestead
14518 Church Street, Upper Marlboro 20772.


Built circa 1787, and in the early 19th century, Content is a large, two-story, side-gabled dwelling. The main section is distinguished by its two-story veranda and its two freestanding chimneys connected by a brick pent. Content exemplifies the early Federal town house with terraces surrounded by

informal plantings of trees. The earliest (southmost) part of the house was built in 1787 by local craftsmen, some of them African Americans, for David Craufurd, Jr. The two-story front porch, the broad hallway, and the handsome stairway were added to the original house about 1800. The north wing was built before 1844 for Dr. Benjamin Lee. Content was home to members of the Contee, Beanes, Magruder, Lee, Bowling, and Smith families. Although altered on the inside over the years, the pine floors, stairway, doors with carpenter locks, basement fireplace crane and much of the woodwork remain as historic elements of Content. An interesting feature is the tiny pent room between the two un-matched chimneys at the south gable end. Content is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

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