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Details of a 1970s brochure and map of London Town. The museum and gardens is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary. Learn more here.



Rod Cofield by Bob Peterson Photography

Thank You from Executive Director Rod Cofield

As it was for most organizations, 2020 was a challenging year for London Town. In addition to the pandemic, a fall tornado caused some damage to the site. Fortunately, generosity from donors, grantors, and the government made it possible for London Town to survive the storm. 

I was proud to see how our dedicated volunteers and staff worked diligently to pivot when the site closed in the spring of 2020. Even after we reopened in May of 2020, their hard work and creativity ensured that we could continue sharing London Town's remarkable history and beautiful gardens when our community needed them most. Our summer and fall 2020 general attendance broke new records. We heard time and again how people appreciated that London Town was open, that it was a safe place to visit, and that we provided a recuperative break from the difficulties of the pandemic. 

Although the pandemic limited our ability to operate as normal, it didn't stop us from celebrating our 50th anniversary of being open to the public, producing new programming, or continuing with some of our biggest projects to date. Read on to learn updates on the preservation work (and rebuilt bar!) at the William Brown House, archaeology at the Gresham Estate, and plant propagation success, among other efforts. Here are some of the highlights of a remarkable year:


Worcester Eisenbrandt works on the William Brown House roof with the South River behind

William Brown House Preservation Update

Preservation work began on the c.1760 William Brown House in August 2018. Now, three years later, we look back on the half-million-dollar, multi-phase effort to ensure the long-term sustainability of this National Historic Landmark.


The initial effort focused on repairing moisture damage to the building. Having faced the South River and Mid-Atlantic weather for over 260 years, the building required repairing or replacing rotted wood in all 38 exterior windows, as well as repointing most of the brickwork. During that first phase, we also undertook work in the attic to fix rotted joists and deteriorating brick supports. Worcester-Eisenbrandt, a Baltimore based firm specializing in historic house restoration, conducted the work. The firm had previously worked on a wide variety of projects, including those at the Washington National Cathedral, Mount Vernon, and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.


During the first phase, we discovered a lot of space behind most of the exterior windows’ trim. Much of that space had either been empty or just packed with bits and pieces of wood and brick. This lack of structure and support around the windows revealed why many bricks above each window were not staying in place. We also found debris like insect eggs and other trash! Something else that is interesting is that there appears to be ship-style caulking (oakum) at the top of the space, such as the photo below with the ladybugs, who had been nesting there for the winter.

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.


Students from St. Mary's College sifting to find artifacts at Gresham Estate

Update on Archaeology at Gresham Estate

In 2017, 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 William Cotter, a retired 17th century pirate, and Commodore Isaac Mayo, who lived in the house until his death in 1861. Most recently, the house was restored by Leon Johnson of Johnson Pools and his family.


Although Gresham has been in continuous ownership since the 17th century, there are many mysteries about the site. There have never been systematic archaeology investigations conducted at Gresham, nor has there been an in-depth historical report researching the different people connected to the place. There was a 1984 architectural survey, from which we know the main house that stands today was probably constructed originally after 1765. However, there have been several significant alterations and additions to the building over the years.

Thanks to a generous donor, London Town was able to contract a field school with professors Steve Lenik, PhD and Liza Gijanto, PhD and St. Mary’s College to conduct an initial archaeology assessment of the grounds. The archaeologists and students spent four weeks at Gresham between June and July 2021. During that time, they conducted a shovel test pit (STP) survey of the property. An STP survey is an efficient way to cover a large area without causing major disturbance. They laid out a grid and flagged up to every 50 feet. As they got closer to the house, they flagged every 25 feet. Much further out became every 75 feet. They then dug at each flag, going down past the topsoil and looking for artifacts and features.


Zinnias propagated by seed by the lath house

Plant Propagation Update

In recent years, the horticulture department at Historic London Town and Gardens has worked to enhance our plant propagation efforts. One year ago, London Town was hit by a tornado that ripped through our gardens. We only closely missed one again earlier this month. Fortunately, we did not lose any core collections, but it was a fierce reminder of how easily that could occur. Additionally, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of being open to the public, we recognize that many of our plants are themselves around 50 years old and coming to the end of their natural lives.


London Town’s gardens contain diverse collections, including exotic specimens and test species. Some are endangered in the wild. There are Camellias, Hollies, Azaleas, and others that were first tested here. Many are unique – at least without anything comparable nearby. To protect the gardens’ collections, we have begun working to build a reservoir of seeds, saplings, and nursery stock.


All of us are grateful to the generous donors and volunteers who have helped us improve our plant propagation program. Propagation ensures that there are always ways to replenish our most important species. Creating a seed bank and properly storing saplings and nursery stock is the best way to maintain our special collections.


Since our request for funding last year, we’ve made considerable strides towards improving our plant propagation efforts. Director of Horticulture Meenal Harankhedkar and her staff and volunteers have been excited to share what support likes yours has made possible.

Some highlights include adding a new horticulture office and storage space. Your generosity has also improved the behind-the-scenes areas with better grading and gravel.

Registry with First Visitors - April 15 1971.JPG

50 Years of London Town

On April 15, 1971, the first visitors to the London Town Publik House and Arboretum signed the original registry. They toured the c.1760 William Brown House, even as it was being restored to how it may have looked originally as a colonial tavern.

Interestingly, two of the first visitors that day were Alma and Edward Larrimore. The William Brown House had become Anne Arundel County's Almshouse in the 1820s. The Larrimore family had been the last administrators of Almshouse when it closed in 1965.


Since then, Anne Arundel County and the London Town Publik House Commission had begun the process of restoring the building and turning the site into a museum and public garden. The William Brown House had been designated a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service exactly one year before its first visitors on April 15, 1970.

Although the pandemic has impacted our efforts to celebrate this milestone anniversary, we have found ways to look back while looking forward. Thank you to everyone who joined us for our lecture series focusing on the 50th anniversary. The first lecture, an overview of London Town's colonial history with executive director Rod Cofield, is now available online here, and more will be added soon.


Join us in digging into our museum and gardens' history here with some of our 50th anniversary related posts:

And save the date! We are planning to host a 50 + 1 celebratory benefit on Friday, May 13, 2022. More details to be announced next year. 

What's Coming Next?

Thank you to everyone who has supported London Town throughout this difficult time. As I have promised, London Town is going to survive and thrive, thanks to your support!

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

  • exploring the enhancement of the waterfront

You can check out the Operations and Capital Improvement Plan at 

We couldn’t have achieved all of this without our family of supporters. Cumulatively, your giving equaled $529,839! 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! 

Rod Cofield
Executive Director


Assets: $1,281,718
Liabilities: $738,140
Net Assets: $543,578

2020 Total Revenue: $847,063


9% Program Services Revenue: $79,273
Admissions and Tours: $22,545
Museum and Garden Programs: $19,170
Memberships: $37,558

63% Donations, Grants, & Fundraising Events: $529,839
Donations & Grants: $239,839
Government Grants: $290,000

28% All Other Earned Revenue: $237,951

2020 Total Expenses: $933,937


80% Program Services: $754,908

14% Management and General Expenses: $128,566

6% Fundraising Expenses: $50,463

Financials for fiscal year 2020 (January 1 - December 31, 2020) are based on the draft 2020 audit.

$56,000+ Raised for London Town!

$56,000+ Raised for London Town!

Thanks to everyone who participated in our online auctions in November 2020 and June 2021. Combined, you raised over $56,000 in support of London Town! Save the date for next year’s benefit: Friday, May 13, 2022. More details to be announced.

1200 Hours

1200 Hours

Even with the pandemic, volunteers still contributed over 1,200 hours with our public programs, as docents, in the gardens, with administrative tasks, and for special events. Their efforts are valued at more than $37,548! Source: Independent Sector. Maryland’s current value of volunteer time at $31.29 an hour.

Education Programs Pivot

Education Programs Pivot

While field trips stopped abruptly in the spring of 2020, our education team continued to find new ways to share the site's history and horticulture with students. They developed traveling trunks (such as the one seen above), virtual field trips, and limited on-site educational opportunities. They were still able to provide educational opportunities to over 2,000 students across Maryland!



This list acknowledges all donors and members who have contributed more than $500 in donations and memberships in 2020.  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 and Recreation



Maryland Heritage Areas Authority and Maryland Historical Trust


$7,500 - $99,999

Arts Council of Anne Arundel County

Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County

Maryland Department of Commerce

Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development

Maryland State Department of Education

TD Bank


$2,500 – 7,499


Anne Arundel Economic Development Corporation

Four Rivers Heritage Area

Anne and William Biddle

Betsy Kirkpatrick-Howat

Kelli Kreter

J.J. Bernard and Victoria Lerch, III

Mr. Frank and Ms. Laura Martien

Amy Pitser Barnhardt

Preservation Maryland

TD Bank


$1,000 – 2,499

Anonymous (3)

Joe and Tessie Ballard

Dr. Margery Calhoun

Bruce Canham

Ms. Virginia P. Clagett

$1,000 – 2,499 Continued

Robin & Amber Cockey

Susan Dodds

Norma & Jim Farrell

First Break Sports Bar and Grill

Ms. Maureen Flanagan and Mr. Jack Weaver

Hank and Catriona Gundlach

V.K. Holtzendorf

Killarney House

J. Richard Knop & Leslee Belluchie

Bob & Karen Leib

McLefresh Family, Dayton, OH

Pirates Cove Inn & Restaurant

Margaret Ann Ross

Sibylle Sampson

Cyrena & Stoney Simons

Gordon & Susanne Smith

Ms. Sarah Trees & Mr. Greg Pitser

Grace Washbourne

United States Marine Corps Historical Company

Worcester Eisenbrandt Inc


$500  - 999

Anonymous (2)

Ms. Grit Bastians and Mr. Robert Jackson

Don Bottaro and Chris Kelley

William and Nancy Carter

Larry & Ruth Claussen

John and Barbara Church

Rod Cofield & Sara Rivers-Cofield

Ms. Christine Colvis and Mr. Michael Kennedy

Ms. Jane S. Cooper and Mr. Philip Angell

Lawrance & Kathryn Court

$500 - 999 Continued

Linda Elkington

James P. Graham

Stephanie & James Jacobs

Maureen & David Konschnik

Jackie Lavigne & Matthew Fisher

Barrett & Anne McKown

Art Little and Barbara Tymkiw

Dr. Marcella Roenneburg

Evelyn Spurgin & Gary Christopher

Nurse Jane A. Swann

John & Christine Vos

Dorothy Walizer


In-Kind Support

Donors to the 2020 Love for London Town Auction

Kinder Farm Park Sawmill Group

J.J. Bernard Lerch III

Gary Livack

Mary Riley

Desma Wade

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