SOLOMONS, MD – The Calvert Marine Museum (CMM) has released a new publication, titled Before the Base: Patuxent River Naval Air Test Center Property Condemnation Appraisals, 1942, delving into the history of St. Mary’s County before the creation of the naval air test center. The book describes how the U.S. Navy acquired 6,000 acres in rural Southern Maryland, transforming the county’s cultural landscape.
As a public, non-profit educational institution focused on regional history, CMM aims to collect, preserve, and present information relevant to the area. The Base offers a fresh lens to view the region, highlighting the communities and industries before the naval base’s establishment.
Mike Smolek, the former Cultural Resource Manager at the Patuxent River Naval Air Test Center, noted the book’s value, saying, “This set of documents provides researchers with solid information on the vernacular farm building architecture, farm layout, and contemporary valuation, as well as valuable genealogical information.”
A special presentation is scheduled for Friday, November 10, 2023, at CMM’s Harms Gallery. Between 2:15 p.m. and 3:15 p.m., editors John Cook and Eve Love will discuss the transformative events that St. Mary’s County underwent in 1942. A book signing event will follow in the Museum Store, allowing attendees to engage directly with the editors.
The book is priced at $100 and will be available at the Calvert Marine Museum Store. It is a comprehensive resource for those interested in the intricate past of the land now known as the Patuxent River Naval Air Test Center.
The publication comes as part of CMM’s broader mission to educate the public about the rich history of Southern Maryland. Whether a history buff or merely curious about the area’s past, the book offers invaluable insights before the Base aims to shed light on the practices and procedures used by the U.S. Navy in unifying its aviation testing activities, filling in the gaps in historical and cultural knowledge about the region.
The release of this book and the upcoming presentation are vital contributions to the community’s understanding of its past, inviting people to explore how establishing the naval base has influenced the area’s cultural and economic fabric. CMM serves as a crucial repository of regional history through this publication, fostering a deeper understanding of Southern Maryland’s complex past.