Bostwick House, the historic 18th-century home and site located in Bladensburg, Maryland, has served as a “living classroom” for the University’s Historic Preservation Graduate Program for more than five years. Now a new website, created by the program, opens the home’s figurative front door to the world. Developed over the past year by preservation students John Gentry (M.H.P.’13), Emily Connors and Assistant to the Director of Preservation Christine Henry, the new Bostwick House website is designed to place Bostwick’s storied history and the program’s abundant research at the reader’s fingertips, while also offering a glimpse into new and on-going projects. The site hosts an extensive catalog of images, both past and present, historic maps, drawings and articles. It will also offer “real time” updates on preservation efforts, such as the current repair work on the home’s south chimney, which was significantly damaged during the 2011 earthquake. The new website was made possible by a grant from the Anacostia Trails Heritage Area, Inc., the regional heritage area program for Prince Georges County and the Washington, D.C. metro area.
“Bostwick House is a remarkable survival from the mid-18th century,” explains preservation program director Donald Linebaugh. “Through this new website, it can now be shared with residents of the community, our state and nation.”
Best known for its owner, Christopher Lowndes, an early merchant and entrepreneur, as well as its role during the war of 1812, Bostwick House now serves as an ideal learning laboratory for historic preservation students, thanks to a memorandum of agreement signed with the town of Bladensburg—which owns the home—in 2008. Over the years, the house has provided students with unique opportunities to explore crucial aspects of preservation and historic architecture, such as dendrochronology, and has served as an ongoing excavation site for the Center for Heritage Resource Studies (CHRS) at the University of Maryland. Plans exist for students and faculty from UMD’s Landscape Architecture Program to investigate the history and resources of Bostwick’s surrounding landscape. With the knowledge gleaned from their exploration and study at Bostwick, students have also developed several potential preservation plans for Bladensburg, as the town determines Bostwick’s next chapter. Henry hopes that the new website will serve not just as a representation of the program’s ongoing work at Bostwick, but an important source for historians, students and residents in Maryland.
“I love the fact that it’s a living website,” says Henry. “It’s a way for us to document and share projects in a way that’s very current and fluid. We are very excited about being able to share the great work happening at Bostwick.”