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Preservation Maryland records

 Collection 0003-MDHC

The Preservation Maryland records consist of correspondence, reports, publications, blueprints, and research files related to the work of the organization. Preservation Maryland, founded in 1931, is the state's oldest historic preservation organization and is dedicated to preserving Maryland's historic buildings, neighborhoods, landscapes and archaeological sites through outreach, funding, and advocacy.


  • 1931-2006

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open to the public and must be used in the Special Collections reading room. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

This collection is unprocessed. This means that materials are in the same state we received them and have not been reviewed for content or condition. The collection may need to be screened prior to use. Please contact us before visiting the Special Collections reading room to view this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies or digital surrogates may be provided in accordance with Special Collections and University Archives duplication policy.

Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.

Archival materials may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during our processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.


147.00 Linear Feet

Biographical / Historical

Preservation Maryland was founded in 1931 as the Society for the Preservation of Maryland Antiquities (SPMA) in conjunction with commemorative activities surrounding the bicentennial of George Washington’s birth. Preservation Maryland is one of the state’s and the nation’s preeminent historic preservation organizations on the forefront of advocacy, outreach, and funding. They are nationally recognized as a leader in protecting four centuries of architectural history in Maryland. Preservation Maryland engages communities, restores historic houses, repurposes historic structures, collaborates with local preservation groups, and is one of the state’s strongest advocates for historic preservation. The organization works with other institutions like the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Maryland Historical Trust to sponsor preservation and revitalization projects statewide, a tradition of collaboration well established in the Preservation Maryland records.

The organization was created at a crucial moment in the historic preservation movement. Historic preservation, “drew away from its preoccupation with house museums, and government, organizations and private citizens began considering buildings of less than national significance as worthy of attention.” (Murtagh, 44) The shifted focus of the historic preservation movement entailed architectural knowledge in order to prove the validity of a site's worthiness for preservation. Its original mission was the acquisition, restoration, and marking of historic sites and structures statewide. The SPMA floundered, however, in its early years during the Great Depression and World War II. Robert Garrett, a member of a prominent Baltimore business family, revitalized the organization in the aftermath of World War II.

President of the SPMA from 1945 to 1956, Garrett nourished a lifelong love of history and historic preservation. After his gold-medal success in the 1896 Olympics and prospering in his family’s Baltimore banking firm, Garrett turned his attentions to the historic preservation movement. Preservation Maryland credits him for advancing historic preservation across the State of Maryland. That same year, SPMA initiated its first program at Hampton Mansion after agreeing to become its custodian on behalf of the National Park Service. Over the coming years, members of the SPMA were involved in the creation of the National Council of Historic Sites and Buildings (later the National Trust for Historic Preservation) and the Maryland Historical Trust.

After World War II the historic preservation movement experienced dramatic shifts in priorities in the recognition of state and locally significant historic sites, the SPMA redirected its efforts to advocacy, funding, outreach, and education. The first volume of The Phoenix , the organization's newsletter, was published during the period of transition. George T. Harrison, the President of SPMA, stated that the purpose of the Society was to preserve and restore historic properties such as houses, gardens, and monuments by purchase, gift lease, or administration. SPMA offered aid to other groups or individuals in their preservation efforts to protect endangered landmarks or historic properties and was deeply involved in all facets of preservation activities. SPMA established a revolving fund for preservation efforts, supported legislation at all government levels, and offered talks by the country’s leading preservationists. Preservation Maryland carries on this tradition of providing funding, identifying endangered landmarks, advocating for legislation, and offering educational events about historic preservation. The organization’s purpose gradually shifted from direct administration and stewardship to advocacy. During this transition, the organization shortened its name to Preservation Maryland in the 1980s.

Preservation Maryland frequently works alongside the Maryland Historical Trust in its advocacy efforts, including a 1997 report entitled The Value of Historic Preservation in Maryland . The report highlighted that through its state-level historic preservation programs, Maryland created jobs, increased household incomes, and “had an overall impact in excess of one billion dollars” between 1977 and 1997. The Maryland Historical Trust also collaborates with Preservation Maryland to sponsor annual preservation conferences and workshops. In 2000, the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development Task Force on the Preservation and Enhancement of Maryland’s Heritage Resource’s preliminary report recognized a strong tradition of nonprofit private volunteer organizations, of which Preservation Maryland is one of the oldest.

By 2011, Preservation Maryland had expanded its advocacy to new media by maintaining a Facebook page, a Twitter feed, and an official blog. They also converted The Phoenix to electronic form. Preservation Maryland involves itself in advocacy efforts for increasing historic preservation appropriations at the Maryland General Assembly, and directs financial resources towards the stewards of historic sites rather than maintaining the sites themselves. These efforts continue under different names and new leadership, but Preservation Maryland’s remains at the forefront of statewide historic preservation initiatives.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Preservation Maryland donated its records to the University of Maryland Libraries beginning in 2007. Subsequent material was donated in 2008, 2009, 2015, 2017, and 2018.


William J. Murtagh Keeping Time: History and Theory of Preservation in America , 3rd edition, Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley, 2006
Preservation Maryland, 75 Years with Preservation Maryland Saving the Past Shaping the Future Baltimore: Preservation Maryland, 2007

Processing Information

The records of Preservation Maryland are largely unprocessed, meaning no signficiant rearrangement or addtional description has been completed. The collection consists of six separate accession which have been inventoried. These inventories are available upon request.

Guide to the Preservation Maryland records
Minimally Processed
Joanne Archer. Historical note created by Jen Wachtel.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Revision Statements

  • 2012-04-03: EAD markup checked and verified using Oxgen software by Joanne Archer
  • 2017-05-24: EAD checked and revised following ArchivesSpace migration by Emily Flint.
  • 2018-02-20: Finding aid reviewed and minor updates made by Caitlin Rizzo.
  • 2019-03-5: Minor updates and revisions made by Joanne Archer

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742