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DNR Shines a Spotlight on Smallwood State Park Volunteers

Colonial Christmas at Smallwood Retreat House

Sponsored by
Friends of Smallwood State Park, Inc.
Smallwood State Park
Dec. 15, 2008

Photo Collage of Colonial Christmas at Smallwood Retreat House, 2008

Click on Photo for Larger View

Report from Roberta Dorsch
Maryland State Park Service
Volunteer Coordinator
Colonial Christmas at Smallwood Retreat House is sponsored by the Friends of Smallwood State Park, Inc., under the direction of Nancy Gill, President.

Volunteers work for weeks planning the decorations and making the plans for the day. Together they decorate the house as it would have been decorated in General Smallwood’s period, using live greens and fruit.

The volunteers also offered guided tours of the house. They are all dressed in colonial outfits, many of which they made themselves. They bake cookies, using colonial recipes, and offer them to visitors at no charge.

Helping with the Colonial Christmas are the Brooks Militia, students from a high school in Calvert County, who set up a mini-encampment to show visitors how the soldiers would have lived in the Revolutionary War era. Smallwood State Park takes its name from General William Smallwood, a native of Charles County. General Smallwood was Maryland's 4th Governor, as well as the highest ranking Marylander in the Revolutionary War.

The Friends of Smallwood State Park maintain the house and as costumed docents conduct guided tours on the Sundays Smallwood Retreat is open to the public. Smallwood's Retreat plantation house is open free to the public from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays from May until the end of September. Group tours are available upon request. For information about scheduling a group tour call 301-743-7613. On occasion, the volunteers host craft demonstrations, military exhibitions and other special events. Check the DNR Calendar of Events or call the Park office (301-743-7613) to find out what is scheduled.

Overview of Smallwood State Park

Smallwood’s Retreat is the reason why Smallwood State Park exists. Mattawoman Plantation (original name for this parcel of land) was originally part of a 1,000 acre manorial grant made by Lord Baltimore to Thomas Allanson in 1659. The property was registered as “Christian Temple Manor,” but because the manorial system of landholding broke down in Maryland, the property was later sold off, with much of it being acquired by the Smallwood’s. The Descendants of the Lords of the Maryland Manors have placed a marker at Smallwood State Park to memorialize the original manorial grant.

The Smallwood Foundation, Inc. was formed in 1934 to save the Smallwood House. Most of this group were descendents of William Smallwood; they wanted to preserve his house for all the citizens of Maryland. Restoration was undertaken in 1954 and completed in 1958. According to records and inventories of the house, which can be found at the Maryland Archives, most of the furniture is matched to the inventories and is original to the 1700’s.

General Smallwood State Park was dedicated in September, 1958, as a historic park. At the time, the park consisted of 30 acres of land, which included the Retreat House and the grave site of General William Smallwood.

General Smallwood State Park, now encompassing 628 acres, also includes a marina, boat launching ramps, picnic areas, camping sites and nature trails.

To become a volunteer at Smallwood State Park, contact volunteer coordinators:

Patrick Bright - pjbright@dnr.state.md.us or Nakia Johnson - njohnson@dnr.state.md.us

or Nancy Gill, President of Friends of Smallwood State Park - ngill1007@comcast.net

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