Black-eyed Susans, Rudbeckia, in the Lillian S. Hall Memorial Garden
ANNUAL REPORT: FY2019
Rod Cofield by Bob Peterson Photography
Thank You from Executive Director Rod Cofield
2019 was a year of growth at London Town. In many ways, 2019 provided a crucial foundation for surviving the unprecedented challenges of 2020. Although the pandemic has greatly impacted London Town, we have remained focused on stewarding this site’s special history and horticulture for years to come. We are also incredibly grateful to all of you who have generously supported London Town, ensuring the site can continue to delight and inform visitors into the future.
Last year, we educated and entertained over 23,364 people (and at least 283 pets!) through our school and group tours, public programs, weddings & rentals, and general visitation. While most visitors are from Anne Arundel County, people came from across the state of Maryland and beyond.
Here are some of the highlights of a remarkable year:
Worcester Eisenbrandt works on the William Brown House
WILLIAM BROWN HOUSE PRESERVATION
We have fully finished the first phase of preservation work. This phase focused on sealing up the building to stop moisture from getting inside. Worcester Eisenbrandt worked for many months on this project. All of the windows were taken out and fully repaired before being replaced. Quite a bit of repointing was done to the bricks. And some additional support work in the attic was built. This was a critical need for the long-term preservation needs of the building.
The second phase will start later this year. We are currently receiving bids to work on the electrical and HVAC systems. The core components of both systems go back to the 1960s or 1970s. So, we feel that it is past time to ensure that these systems can last for the next few decades. The HVAC system in particular needs to be upgraded and made more energy efficient.
Once the HVAC and electrical systems are taken care of, we will then be able to finish repairs on the two porches that still need work. Thanks to your generous support of our Repair the Porch fundraising appeal this past December, there is enough money to completely repair the riverside porch. That porch receives the worst weather and thus deteriorates more quickly than the other porches. The porch off of the tavern room will also be repaired, and the stairs will be added back on to it.
We will also finish rebuilding the tavern's lost bar! The Coronavirus challenges this year delayed our timeline a bit for this project. But since we expect to get the HVAC and electrical systems project finished within the next few months, the bar will be built immediately thereafter. I cannot wait to host a drinks event with all of you there! Thank you to everyone who supported the Build the Bar challenge.
Although the William Brown House is currently closed to the public, the public programs team created a phenomenal virtual tour for you to explore and enjoy. You'll learn a lot of extra information not usually found on a guided tour. And, you can be as leisurely as you want. Check it out here: www.historiclondontown.org/wbhtour.
We are grateful for the support of former County Executive Steve Schuh, the Anne Arundel County Council, Anne Arundel County Recreation and Parks, Senator Pam Beidle, Senator John Astle, the Maryland Heritage Area Authority, Preservation Maryland, and our many donors who contributed funds to this project.
Girl investigating Azaleas
For decades, London Town has been educating thousands of 4th and 5th grade students in our Early Maryland History educational programs. We were recently accepted as a State Aided Educational Institution by the Maryland State Department of Education.
We had just launched our new nature programs for schools in 2019. These field trips introduce younger students to the wonders of the natural world through the gardens. The first schools had begun signing up for the program when the pandemic struck. While this has hampered this new program, it hasn’t stopped it. This fall, we debuted “Magic in the Gardens” with a small educational group for the first time. We are continuing to offer on-site educational opportunities for small groups in conjunction with all COVID-19 safety regulations and precautions.
In response to schools going virtual, London Town is developing a series of videos highlighting critical interpretive themes: foodways, the enslaved experience, trade, and more. Families have also begun participating in outdoor-only, socially distanced on-site educational programs. These Learning at London Town experiences feature a wide range of topics – from exploring trees to colonial games. More information is available at www.historiclondontown.org/learningatlondontown.
We remain committed to providing quality programming throughout the health crisis and beyond. To help inform our programming, we have worked with Andrea Jones of Peak Experience Lab to survey visitors and supporters. Thank you to over 100 of you who filled out the survey.
This year, we said good-bye to Kristen Butler, who took a position as Director of Programs at the Delaplaine Arts Center in Frederick, MD. Hired just before the shut-down, our new Director of Public Programs Diana Klein comes to us from the Blandford Nature Center in Michigan. We're excited to have her join our team!
Thank you to all of the volunteers and volunteer groups who worked endlessly on providing tours and making public programs a reality. Thank you to the Lothian Ruritan, Davidsonville Ruritan, Four Rivers Heritage Area, and individual donors for providing funding towards adding nature programming. Thank you to the Davidsonville Ruritan for the new pavilion and to the Four Rivers Garden Club for funding to enhance the plantings surrounding it.
Volunteers working on the new garden bed by the Davidsonville Ruritan Pavilion
2019 was one of the busiest years for the gardens! Thanks to several grants, horticulture staff and volunteers restored over an acre of the gardens and improved the edging in the Spring Walk as well as installed a new garden bed by the Davidsonville Ruritan Pavilion. We are grateful to our garden volunteers who worked tirelessly on these projects in addition to regular care and maintenance of the 10 acre garden. We’re also appreciative to the several service day volunteer groups that came out and worked on removing invasives, improving path grading, and enhancing edging.
The horticulture department collaborated with the University of Maryland Master Gardeners to start a brand-new plant propagation program to support London Town's conservation and restoration efforts. Azaleas were the primary focus for 2019 propagation project. They also worked together on plant identification. Horticulture department volunteers and University of Maryland Master Gardeners reviewed and compiled list of 250 new accession numbers. 2019 curation efforts were mainly geared towards the primary collections of Azaleas, Magnolias and Peonies.
Our appreciation to the Northern Virginia Chapter of the Azalea Society of America and the Potomac Valley Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society who donated several azaleas and rhododendrons to the gardens. Thanks to them, London Town was selected to be part of a legacy project, becoming a reservoir for acquiring pristine and rare Marshy Point Azaleas.
Thanks to all of the many volunteers for your tireless service in the gardens. Our appreciation to the Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust, Davidsonville Ruritan, and Unity Gardens for grants to enhance the Spring Walk. Thank you to the Four Rivers Garden Club for the funding to create a new garden bed at the Davidsonville Ruritan Pavilion. We are excited for the azaleas and rhododendrons donated by the Northern Virginia Chapter of the Azalea Society of America and the Potomac Valley Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society.
Design of the new Phillips Education Pavilion. Design by Michael Dowling, Architect
SOUTHERN SIDE ENHANCEMENT
As soon as you come into London Town, you’ll immediately notice several changes. Following the guidance of our Operations and Capital Improvement Plan, we’ve spent considerable time on improving the southern side of the campus. In 2019, we worked with the Department of Public Works on expanding the parking lot. We also received funding to begin designwork on a new open-air educational pavilion, adjacent to the parking lot. Thanks to grants received this year, construction will begin soon, making us ready to continue expanding our educational and programming offerings after the pandemic concludes. Additionally, we received funding to begin designwork on a much needed horticulture complex. Stay tuned for more updates and information!
Thank you to the Phillips Foundation, Maryland Heritage Areas Authority, and a private donor for funding the design and construction of the upcoming Phillips Educational Pavilion. We are grateful to the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority for funding the designwork for the new horticulture complex.
In 2018, London Town began working with Anne Arundel County Recreation and Parks to manage a new historic property, the Gresham Estate. Located about 10 minutes from London Town's main site, the Gresham Estate was constructed by John Gresham II in the late 1600s, the same time that London Town was beginning to thrive. Over the years, the Estate has been owned by several families, most notably Commodore Isaac Mayo, who lived in the house until his death in 1861. Most recently, it's been restored by Leon Johnson of Johnson Pools and his family.
Last year we held multiple member and public open houses at the new site. This year, it's been largely closed, but we've been working with multiple groups in the area to experiment with arts programming on-site. Stay tuned for more information.
WHAT’S COMING NEXT?
Thank you to everyone who contributed to our ReLeaf Campaign last spring. You raised over $50,000 to support London Town through this difficult time. As I promised then, London Town is going to survive. Next year will be our 50th anniversary of being open to the public, and while we may not be able to do all of the exciting programs we had hoped, we are getting creative and planning some exciting opportunities to celebrate. Here's to the next 50 years!
We continue to use our 2017 Operations and Capital Improvement Plan as a guideline for a great future at London Town, and there are additional exciting projects already in the works to expand and improve the visitor experience. These include:
constructing the new Phillips Education Pavilion
continuing the preservation of the William Brown House
exploring the enhancement of the waterfront
You can check out the Operations and Capital Improvement Plan at www.historiclondontown.org/2027
We couldn’t have achieved all of this without our family of supporters. Cumulatively, your giving equaled $283,829! This included donations (restricted and unrestricted), fundraisers, grants and corporate giving. Note that this amount includes funds from Anne Arundel County and the State of Maryland. A list of donors is available here.
I welcome you to visit London Town often this year and beyond. We continue hosting great programming and will increase our efforts to preserve and share this unique history and beautiful gardens. Thank you!
LONDON TOWN BY THE NUMBERS: 2019
Net Assets: $812,129
2019 Total Revenue: $1,184,662
11% Program Services Revenue: $133,715
Admissions and Tours: $78,784
Museum and Garden Programs: $19,007
50% Donations, Grants, & Fundraising Events: $595,000
Donations & Grants: $149,950
Government Grants: $411,584
Fundraising Events: $33,466
38% All Other Earned Revenue: $455,947
2019 Total Expenses: $992,710
80% Program Services: $797,702
15% Management and General Expenses: $148,225
5% Fundraising Expenses: $46,783
Financials for fiscal year 2019 (January 1 - December 31, 2019) are based on the draft 2019 990.
Financials for FY19 have not yet been audited.
From left to right: Board President Joe Ballard, Executive Director Rod Cofield, and Former Board President Bob Leib at the 2019 Privateer Party. Photo by Eric Stocklin Photography
FROM CHARM SCHOOL TO LONDON TOWN: LIEUTENANT GENERAL JOE BALLARD
Lieutenant General Joe Nathan Ballard might never have become president of London Town’s board if it wasn’t for “Charm School.”
Now, "Charm School" isn’t an official term. Instead it's the nickname for the week in Washington, D.C. that every U.S. military officer promoted to flag rank is required to attend with his or her spouse. Joe became a general in the U.S. Army in the early 1990s, later becoming the Chief of the Army Corps of Engineers. He made history as the first African American person to hold that position.
At about the same time, Rick Rohrbach was promoted to admiral. He was in the Civil Engineer Corps, the Navy equivalent to the Army Corps of Engineers. They both went to Washington for the mandatory "Charm School" week.
When, decades later, Joe and his wife Tessie met Rick's widow Sally at the Vineyards at Dodon in Davidsonville, they hit it off immediately comparing notes on their "Charm School" experiences. Knowing his credentials, Sally soon asked him to join the board at Historic London Town and Gardens. As the former board president, she knew that he would be a great asset to the organization.
“She said I had to come aboard,” Joe recalls with a laugh. “You could help us. We’re working on restoring a historic property, meaning the William Brown House. Well, I’ve done an awful lot of that.” In addition to his service with the Army Corps of Engineers, Joe was the president and CEO of Ravens Group, LLC, a business development company. He had also founded TRG Construction, a general contracting firm.
Sally further piqued his interest when describing plans to improve London Town’s waterfront. He knew that would be transformative for the site. His background would be invaluable in kicking off that project.
From left to right: County Executive Steuart Pittman, Arundel Rivers Federation Executive Director Denise Swol, London Town Board President Joe Ballard, and Former Board President Sally Rohrbach at the 2019 Privateer Party. Photo by Eric Stocklin Photography
Before long, Joe joined the board. In December 2018, he became president. Joe has overseen London Town’s remarkable growth. He also chairs the committee preserving the William Brown House. The c.1760 tavern is a National Historic Landmark.
His leadership has deepened London Town’s commitment to telling its fullest history. This includes London Town's history as a port for slave ships. Much of the colonial's town population were enslaved. As London Town’s first African-American president, Joe has felt it critical that all audiences discover the site and its history. During his tenure, London Town was named a UNESCO Site of Memory Associated with the Slave Trade.
In the aftermath of the George Floyd shooting, Joe worked with executive director Rod Cofield on a public statement recognizing that history. The statement acknowledged London Town as a “site that was complicit in perpetuating… pain. People of African descent were sold here. Families were ripped apart. An unspeakable tragedy occurred here. That tragedy still affects us now.”
Joe’s passion is not just for the site’s history. An avid gardener, he also brings a deep appreciation for London Town’s gardens. In 2018, he and Tessie shared their spectacular gardens and beautiful home as part of the Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage. The popular event raised funds for London Town’s gardens.
This year has been a difficult one for London Town, but Joe has remained a steady lead. After London Town temporarily closed due to the coronavirus crisis, he worked with Rod on a strategy to keep the site stable and ready to reopen. He galvanized the board to lead the way on the “ReLeaf Fund,” which raised over $50,000 to support London Town.
Joe and Rod have communicated regularly with Anne Arundel County about the impact COVID-19 has had on London Town. As the owner of the land and buildings, Anne Arundel County has a vested interest in ensuring that London Town makes it through this challenging time. Joe's connections to the County government and his knowledge of how the County works proving to be an important aspect of his contributions to London Town this year.
In foreground: London Town Board President Joe and Tessie Ballard. In background: London Town board secretary Norma and Jim Farrell. At the 2018 Privateer Party. Photo by Eric Stocklin Photography
When asked about leading through crisis, Joe didn't waver. “I feel pretty good about where we’re going. We’ve hit a pause.” He focuses on the future. He's excited to lead London Town into its next chapter: enhancing the waterfront. “I can see the potential in London Town. I want to see the waterfront started. Changing that will make London Town a primary destination. I believe that.”
"Joe's perspective on what makes London Town special has been good for us organizationally," says executive director Rod Cofield. "His involvement has helped us in many positive ways. By staying focused on our strategic needs, Joe is a very helpful Board President."
Joe's term as board president would have ended in December. However, he has committed to staying on until London Town is past the pandemic. He remains dedicated to beginning work on the waterfront begins. And with his expertise and leadership, we know that it will.
“What Joe has brought to London Town is the ability to see the big picture and think expansively,” says former board president Sally Rohrbach. “He has a larger than life personality and a creative vision that is invaluable to London Town. He helps us see the impossible can become possible.”
THANK YOU TO OUR 2019 SUPPORTERS
This list acknowledges all donors and members who have contributed more than $500 in donations and memberships in 2019. We are grateful for their support.
Grants are listed in the year they are awarded as opposed to when the awarded amount is distributed.
Anne Arundel County Parks & Recreation
State of Maryland
$7,500 - $99,999
Arts Council of Anne Arundel County
Davidsonville Ruritan Foundation
Mr. Frank & Mrs. Laura Martien
Maryland Heritage Areas Authority
$2,500 – 7,499
American Fundraising Foundation
Anne R. Bradshaw
Four Rivers Heritage Area
$1,000 – 2,499
Chaney Enterprise Foundation
Ms. Virginia P. Clagett
Larry & Ruth Claussen
Robin & Amber Cockey
Hank & Catriona Gundlach
Integrity Construction Group, Inc.
Charlie & Kelli Kreter
Glenn & Kathy Larson
Art Little and Barbara Tymkiw
J.J. Bernard & Victoria Lerch, III
Barrett & Anne McKown
The McLefresh Family
Theresa Lerch Nahajzer
$1,000 – 2,499 Continued
Dr. Marcella Roenneburg
Margaret Ann Ross
Cyrena & Stoney Simons
Gordon & Susanne Smith
United States Marine Corps Historical Company
$500 - 999
Ms. Grit Bastians & Mr. Robert Jackson
Ms. Pam Bell & Mr. Greg Townsend
Anne & William Biddle
Mr. Donald Bottaro and Ms. Chris Kelley
Rod Cofield & Sara Rivers-Cofield
Bryan & Patricia Dowell
Ms. Maureen Flanagan & Mr. Jack Weaver
Stephanie & James Jacobs
Mrs. Janice & Mr. Gary Jobson
Maureen & David Konschnik
Robert & Allison Murphy
Pirates Cove Inn & Restaurant
Evelyn Spurgin & Gary Christopher
In-Kind Support $500+
Boatyard Bar and Grill
James and Lois Duffy
Ken’s Creative Kitchen
Level Green Landscaping
Minuteman Press - Crofton
Northern Virginia Chapter of the Azalea Society of America
Potomac Valley Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society
David L. Smith
Eric Stocklin Photography
United States Marine Corps
Wegman’s of Crofton