The history of Frederick County is rich with stories of battles, local attractions and even a few individuals of notoriety. The organization best equipped to share and teach about our history is Heritage Frederick, previously known as the Historical Society of Frederick County. We asked a few questions of Mary Boswell, Executive Director at Heritage Frederick and here's what she shared with us.
1. What is the mission of Heritage Frederick?
Heritage Frederick is a dynamic organization that recognizes Frederick County’s impact on our state, nation and world. We promote, preserve and share Frederick County’s rich history through interactive experiences that are relevant, accessible and meaningful to all people.
2. What are your top priorities?
We connect Frederick County’s past with people of all ages and backgrounds today. We do this through programs, exhibits, publications. Our walking tours feature art & architecture, local African American history, “Murder and Mayhem,” “Drunk and Disorderly: Frederick in the Civil War” and other topics. We partner with the wineries and distilleries on the history of Prohibition. Our exhibits tell Frederick County’s story from pre-history to the present. We have 10 “Hands-on-History” programs for families, including an activity related to Frederick County’s mythical monster the Snallygaster and an 18th century immigrant’s trunk. These programs enhance the family bond and result in happy memories shared by multiple generations.
3. How did the organization get started/tell us some history about your organization
Heritage Frederick was formed in 1892 as the Historical Society of Frederick County. It now has 6,000 artifacts and 27,000 historical documents. People contact us from all over the world about their family’s history and properties. They may do the research themselves or have us do it. Many documents and photographs can be seen on our website. Our Festival of Trees, introduced in 2014, is now a holiday tradition. Our in-house and outreach programs to schools and retirement communities, and our participation in county-wide events, engage 15,000 annually.
4. Can you share any upcoming events or any news about your organization?
The Museum is closed through April in 2018 for building maintenance. Our Library is open by appointment during that time. The Museum & Library will open in May with a new exhibit on the Mason-Dixon Line, which divides the North and South. Our new “History Activities Room” for families will also open in May. Families will be able to drop in any time we are open and pick a program that suits their interests, ages and abilities. Some programs will be indoors, some outdoors.
5. How does the business community best take advantage of the resource available at Heritage Frederick?
We have no regulatory function, but we can help businesses research their properties and look for images that show how their shop, office or restaurant was decorated or had signs in the past. We have a beautiful garden and interior space that individuals and businesses may rent for parties and meetings. We are part of Frederick’s total local experience. We encourage people to shop, dine, and have a cultural experience here. Many of our programs take people to different spots downtown.