Upper Marlboro visitors automatically get a sense of the town’s history when traveling down Main Street, a two-way road closely lined with shops and other brick buildings.
But few know about just how much history the area contains — such as the fact that it was once a port for tobacco shipments or that it is the birthplace of John Carroll, the first Catholic archbishop in America and the founder of Georgetown University, and his brother, Daniel Carroll, who signed the U.S. Constitution.
Fortunately, the town’s board of commissioners is ensuring the town’s history is not lost. Officials are creating a committee charged with collecting historical documents related to the town in hopes of encouraging preservation of and boosting interest in Upper Marlboro history.
Upper Marlboro isn’t the first to recognize the importance of preserving its past. Other municipalities, churches and schools also are making efforts. North Brentwood, the first black municipality in Prince George’s County, formed a historical society in the early 1990s to chronicle the town’s past. St. Pius X Catholic Church in Bowie, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, is collecting pictures and documents related to its history.
Such collections and the educational opportunities they yield also could help bring a better understanding to ongoing debates where county growth clashes with historic preservation — a challenge Upper Marlboro continues to face as the historic Old Marlboro Elementary School is slated to be demolished by the county.
The commissioners’ effort shows they know the value of retaining town’s history, and in time they’ll have a collection to share that knowledge with everyone.