2027 vision of Historic London Town & Gardens from the Capital and Operations Improvement Plan
ANNUAL REPORT: FY 2021
A Time of Transition and Renewal
While we did not return to normal in 2021, we did experience a time of transition and renewal. This continued in 2022 when, after serving Historic London Town & Gardens for 16 years, Executive Director Rod Cofield left to become the new Executive Director at Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum in St. Leonard, Maryland. Our experienced Deputy Director Lauren Silberman has stepped up to become the Acting Executive Director. Rod has left Historic London Town with a solid foundation for future growth. Learn more about his legacy here.
A Place For Celebration
One of the upsides from 2021 was the return of more weddings and events. London Town & Gardens continues to be a popular destination and attendance numbers remained high. In fact, in 2022 we hosted 103 events including 80 weddings, welcoming over 10,000 guests! It was a joy to once again help so many people celebrate their important life milestones.
Completion of William Brown House Preservation
After years of hard effort, the work to preserve the c.1760 William Brown House is complete. We are ready for another generation of visitors to experience colonial history in this National Historic Landmark. One of the best parts of the process was the rebuilding the tavern's lost bar. We have enjoyed hosting a new series of events called "Colonial Cocktails" where participants learn to make historic drinks and learn about colonial tavern customs. In 2021, Colonial Cocktails was awarded the Heritage Tourism Product Award by Chesapeake Crossroads (then Four Rivers Heritage Area)! Learn more about the program and its win here in an article from the Bay Weekly.
Creating A Better Visitor Experience
Now that the historic fabric of William Brown House has been preserved, we are creating a rich visitor experience to match. We're developing an immersive experience that takes a multi-faceted approach to telling London Town's history, including perspectives from everyone who lived, worked, and traveled here. This updated exhibit will also share stories from the building's time as Anne Arundel County's Almshouse, serving those with nowhere else to go. Thanks to 2021 grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Arts Council of Anne Arundel County, and Chesapeake Crossroads, you can visit the new exhibit starting in the spring of 2023. Learn more about our plans in this Bay Weekly article here.
Improving Education Programming
Thank you to the Phillips Charitable Foundation, Maryland Heritage Areas Authority, and a private donor whose generosity has enabled a new pavilion to expand our educational programs. Currently, thousands students tour our site annually. We are planning to start building the pavilion this spring. Look for the pavilion to open in 2023!
Pavillion Concept Drawing
Rescued Magnolia veitchii
Magnificent Magnolias Rescued From Invasives
Thanks to donor support for the Magnolia Fund, we were able to rescue and rehabilitate most of our magnolias, one of our most important collections with over 40+ different magnolias. In fact, over 50 years ago, the first tree dedicated at Historic London Town & Gardens was a magnolia. In the 1970s, horticulturist Tony Dove established our collection, grafting magnolias, including Magnolia ‘Eric Savil’ (M. sprengeri). London Town is the only local public garden where you can enjoy so many species!
However, growth of invasive plants, like ivy, honeysuckle, and blackberry have made it impossible to access some of the magnolias for identification. Because of the funds raised, we were able to clear 2 acres of invasive plants, including 1/2 an acres of bamboo, which hid a unique Magnolia called Magnolia veitchii. We are grateful that we could rescue this important tree that is a year round pollinator! We were also able to add new species, like Magnolia ashei, endangered in some areas. London Town prioritizes biodiversity as we work to help conserve endangered botanical specimens.
During our rescue operation, we re-discovered a lost garden bed overlooking the South River. Named "Wild Azalea Hills," the bed was planted in late 1990’s to highlight Azaleas, Camellias, and Magnolias.
New Horticultural and Historic Area Signage
Starting in 2021, we added new signage in the historic area, thanks to grants from Preservation Maryland and the Arts Council of Anne Arundel County. Last year, we also received grants from Chesapeake Crossroads and the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority to begin adding new display markers in the gardens. We've recently added 500 new display markers, identifying plants' common and Latin names. We will continue adding more display markers annually until all plants in the gardens have this important information. We're excited to have added over 100 new plants just in 2022 to the gardens!
The maintenance staff is very excited for the new equipment barn coming in 2023, which will make it easier to keep the site looking spectacular. They've also worked on refurbishing benches around the property, hanging decorative lighting in the ornamental garden, and putting up a shade sail cloth over the outdoor patio, among other projects.
London Town in the News:
London Town Receives Nearly $50K Grant - Bay Weekly, Steve Adams, October 21, 2021
St. Mary’s College digs into past of former plantation - Bay Weekly, June 21, 2021, reprinted in Washington Post, July 3, 202, Donovan Conaway
Get Up Close as London Town Unearths More History - Bay Weekly, Steve Adams, June 2021
Gresham Estate Archeological Dig | PHOTOS - Capital Gazette, Paul W. Gillespie, June 17, 2021
Room to Grow at London Town - Bay Weekly, Maria Price, April 2021
Colonial Maryland’s Complicated History - Bay Weekly, Jillian Amodio, March 25, 2021
Historic London Town and Gardens gives visitors hands-on experience of life in the 17th, 18th centuries - WMAR-2 ABC, "Trips That Make Cents"
A Golden Year for London Town - Bay Weekly, Susan Nolan, May 26, 2022
26 Top Things to Do in Maryland - U.S. News and World Report, Brittany Chrusciel, May 20, 2022
Horticultural splendor awaits the visitor to Historic London Town and Gardens - Capital Gazette, Jeff Holland, May 20, 2022
Annapolis and Anne Arundel County’s Chesapeake Legacy - Maryland Road Trips, Visit Annapolis & Anne Arundel County, February 2022
During this period of transition and renewal, our volunteers have been outstanding, giving thousands of hours of time to us. We are also grateful for their patience, flexibility, and willingness to help with their, skills, energy, and ideas.
Thank you for being part of our ongoing effort to create learning experiences to help audiences discover their relationship to the past, their role in the present, and their responsibility to the future.
London Town Audited Financials: FY 2021
Financials for fiscal year 2021 (January 1 - December 31, 2021) are based on the submitted 990