Southern Maryland Tourism
Rich in History, Enchantment, and Growth…
Lord Baltimore had the right idea when he began his colony in 1634 in St. Mary’s City. The first settlement founded by British Catholics on religious tolerance, Maryland’s “St. Maries City” flourished as the state’s capital until 1695. Supported by waves of immigrants and farming activities, St. Maries City settlers withstood attacks by revolutionary Protestants, an invasion by the British, and became embroiled in the Civil War. Today, St. Mary’s City is recognized
as a National Historic Landmark and Maryland’s western shore is the focus of heavy historic and archeological study. The county seat for St. Mary’s County Government remained in St. Mary’s City until 1654. From that time, county court was conducted in the homes of various gentlemen in the Leonardtown area, then called “Newtown.” In 1708, the original log courthouse was constructed in Leonardtown, which was used until 1736 when a brick courthouse was constructed and used exclusively until 1999. Currently, there is a complete Governmental Center in the heart of Leonardtown housing an even newer courthouse facility. For more information on the history of St. Mary’s County, visit the website of the Historic Society.
Located just across the Gov. Thomas Johnson Bridge, Calvert County is bounded by the Chesapeake Bay on the east and the Patuxent River on the west. Calvert County contains about 219 square miles of land and is only nine miles wide at its widest point.
Although its first identified settlers were members of the Piscataway Nation, Cecil Calvert received the royal charter from Charles I for establishment of a settlement in 1632. The colonists from England began arriving in 1634, led by Cecil’s brother, Leonard Calvert after which the English gentry were followed to Calvert County by the Puritans, Huguenots, Quakers and Scots.
The region known as “Southern Maryland” includes Charles, Calvert, and St. Mary’s counties. Southern Maryland is currently the fastest growing geographic region in the state of Maryland. The area’s strong population and economic growth is due, in part, to area dynamics and the close proximity to the Nation’s Capitol. Calvert and St. Mary’s counties are among the leaders in growth in the region with a combined projected population increase of 81% over the next two decades due to the
Department of Defense’s efforts to consolidate military activities at Patuxent River Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD). The 1991 and 1993 decisions of the federal defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission changed the face of Southern Maryland forever. Thousands of new administrative, engineering, and high-technology research and development jobs representing several hundred million dollars worth of programs were reassigned to Patuxent River, nearby Dahlgren, and Indian Head naval installations. These decisions made in the early 90’s, are expected to continue impacting Southern Maryland well into the twenty-first century.
As mentioned, the tremendous appeal of our region is partially due to the area’s dynamics.
Our residents enjoy the scenic landscape of a rural atmosphere that is strong in its tobacco, corn, and soybean industries.
Any visitor to St. Mary’s County will be enchanted to see the horse-drawn carriages and traditional dress of the members of the resident Amish community. To hearken back to their roots, the Amish shun telephones, electricity, refrigeration and most other modern conveniences. Amish-made furnishings are known for their affordability and craftsmanship. Pesticide and chemical-free Amish-grown produce is abundantly available at roadside stands. But, in addition to its “home-town” feel, Southern Maryland still has much more to offer.
Recreation and Leisure
With hundreds of miles of scenic waterways, our area is known for its boating, sailing, and fishing. The Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries abound with our famous Chesapeake Bay oysters and the Maryland blue crab. Our Maryland State Parks and county recreation areas offer natural areas for camping, hunting, hiking, picnicking, as well as numerous sports and special events. The best source of information on Maryland’s outdoor activities is the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. There are several golf courses in Southern Maryland, the Air Station’s Officer’s Club facility being one of the area’s finest.
The Department of Recreation and Parks in St. Mary’s County provides a wide range of year round activities for adults and for children. Youth classes in art, music, drama, crafts, dance and sports are provided at school community centers throughout the County. Adult education and recreation classes such as aerobics, cake decorating, dog obedience, painting, woodworking and yoga offer a varied program for adults. In Lexington Park, there is a 6 screen Lowes Cineplex. In Waldorf, Lowes also has a large theater. In Prince Frederick, there is an Apex Theater. Roller skating rinks are located in Northern Calvert County and in Waldorf.
For more information on St. Mary’s County history or activities, we recommend
contacting the Historic St. Mary’s Commission at P.O.Box 39, St. Mary’s City, MD 20686; 301-862-0990 and the St. Mary’s County Chamber of Commerce at 6260 Waldorf Leonardtown Road, Mechanicsville, MD 20659; 301-884-5555. For more detailed information on Calvert County, contact the Calvert County Chamber of Commerce at 410-535-2577.
Shopping and Dining
The region’s largest shopping mall is located in neighboring Charles County within a comfortable 30-minute drive of most locations in Southern Maryland. As the home of the 1.2 million square foot St. Charles Towne Center mall and more than 20 other shopping centers, Charles County has become known as the “Shopping Capital of Southern Maryland.” The mall is anchored by Sears, Montgomery Ward, J.C. Penney, Kohl’s, and The Hecht Co. Inside, there are 120 of specialty stores. Outside and nearby, shoppers will find a Hechingers, T.J. Maxx, Ames, and Service Merchandise,, Toys ‘R’ Us, and a nine-screen Cineplex Odeon Theater. BJ’s Wholesale Club opened on a large pad behind St. Charles Towne Plaza and, the latest addition to the area is a 117,000 square foot Target Store.
There are several small shopping centers and stand alone shops in St. Mary’s County with the Lexington Park area having the greatest concentration of facilities. Belk, Peebles, Wal-Mart, Ames, K-Mart and Target all operate stores in the county with PetSmart and Staples, and Giant to open later in 2000. Currently, there are several quality grocery stores such as Superfresh, Food Lion, McKay’s. Additionally, Woodburn’s Groceries, known for their quality butcher shop, is just across the bridge in Solomons with a newly opened section featuring extensive gourmet foods sections. In Calvert, the major shopping hubs are located in the central town of Prince Frederick and Dunkirk to the north.
Most locals and tourists visit Solomons Island for their evening recreation
and for interesting day trips. The appeal of Solomons is the simplicity of a small 128-year old fishing village, settled comfortably around a deep, protected harbor rimmed with busy marinas. Bordered by the Riverwalk on one side, visitors can wander down the main street bordered by small white and gray houses of weathered wood, casual restaurants, pot-pourri-scented
gift shops, and a general store that offers bait, tackle, hot coffee, ice and rental boats. At Christmas time, residents look forward to the Solomons Island Christmas Walk where all the shops, bars, and restaurants host a combined open house over the course of a weekend. In the springtime, Island businesses participate in the annual “Spring Launch” festivities beginning with the opening of the Tiki Bar and continuing throughout the weekend with special festivities on the Island. This Solomons Business Association sponsored event is usually attended by more than 8,000 locals and tourists alike. Additionally, Solomons Island offers several museums, including the Calvert Marine Museum home to the relocated historic Drum Point Lighthouse.
There are several fine restaurants in Solomons, but that’s not the only place in Calvert County to go for an enjoyable meal. Between Solomons and Dunkirk there are several well-known places to dine that are slightly off the beaten path. St. Mary’s also has many restaurants, some offering “fine dining.” A couple of the more historic and interesting restaurants in the county include The Roost in Lexington Park. Nearby Waldorf, Charles County has many “chain” restaurants” such as Red Lobster, Ruby Tuesday’s, Pizzeria Uno’s, Chili’s, and Chuck E. Cheese for the kids.
In addition to our local historic sites like St. Mary’s City and the beautiful Sotterly Plantation, there are unlimited “big city” leisure opportunities within an easy commute of Southern Maryland.
Families can easily take in the grandeur of Washington D.C., our nation’s capitol, from atop the Washington Monument and visit all the traditional places, the Smithsonian Institution and other famous museums, the White House and other government buildings. Both the young and the young at heart enjoy the National Zoo. The Kennedy Center host the greatest performers from our nation and from around the world and is home to the National Symphony Orchestra. Washington has several great theatres with a wide variety of shows from which to choose.
Wonderful family memories can be created during outings in Historic Annapolis , Old Town Alexandria, and Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, which is now home to the National Aquarium, and the Walters Art Gallery which is a twenty minute walk north of the Inner Harbor. Historically a center for the performing arts, Baltimore is the site for the Baltimore Symphony, and several very well known theaters for the Performing Arts.
St. Mary’s County is the home of over 1,575 businesses that employ
in excess of 20,119 people. The major employers include DynCorp, Booz-Allen & Hamilton, Allied-Signal, C-Cubed, Compliance Corp., Eagan McAllister Assoc., Eagle Systems, Information Spectrum, Lockhead Martine, Lundeberg School of Seamanship, MACI, Mantech, St. Mary’s Hospital, Sabre Systems, PRB, Marconi, Veridian, and the NAWCAD, which employs
over 12,000 military and other federal service employees. The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development is an
excellent source of state and regional information as is the Census Office. St. Mary’s County’s business environment information contact the St. Mary’s County Chamber of Commerce.
Of Calvert County’s 75,000 people, more than 18 percent hold college degrees. Calvert offers access to one of the largest, most divers, and highly skilled pools of professional, management, and technical labor in the nation. In excess of 50% of the county’s workforce, however, commutes outside the county for
employment. Among the largest employers in Calvert County are Baltimore Gas & Electric, Calvert Memorial Hospital, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, DynCorp and Direct Mail Management. For more information on business in Calvert County, Contact the Calvert County Chamber of Commerce at 410-535-2577 or the Calvert County Department of Economic Development at 800-331-9771.
The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) is a land, sea, and air test laboratory complex responsible for evaluating naval aviation’s advanced weapons systems. Originally established in St. Mary’s County as the Patuxent River Naval Air Station in 1943, the station quickly grew with the addition of the Naval Air Test Center in 1945, and the evolution of the Navy Test Pilot School in 1948. Today, the NAWCAD, the Flight Test and Engineering Group, and approximately fifty tenant activities are responsible for most of St. Mary’s County job growth. Although it is no surprise to most residents of Southern Maryland, newcomers should be made aware of the potential
of periodic daytime flyovers by our military’s finest pilots and their aircraft. We call it the sound of freedom. These
flyovers occur more frequently in certain areas which are outlined in Noise Disturbance section of the NAS Patuxent River Operational Environmental Planning website. We encouraged all new area residents to visit that website for further information.
Both St. Mary’s and Calvert Counties are governed by an elected five-member Board of County Commissioners. The entire voting population in their respective counties elects all Commissioners for four-year terms. The “commissioner” form of government charges these elected offices to be responsible for the establishment of all County policies, the enactment of new ordinances, the review and approval of annual budgets and workplans for all departments and agencies receiving County funds as well as the appointment of all department heads, and
members of boards, commissions, and committees.
The commissioners conduct public hearings and make decisions on land use matters including zoning, water and sewer categories, and appeals for the Planning Commission. Additionally, they are responsible for purchasing and maintaining County property, approving road construction and maintenance, and representing our county in state and federal matters effecting our communities. Visit Southern Maryland’s Link to Government Information for information on Southern Maryland’s state and federal governmental representation.
Both St. Mary’s and Calvert County Public Schools are governed by a five-member Board of Education. In the St. Mary’s County public school system, there are currently 16 elementary schools, 5 middle schools, 3 high schools, special education schools, and 1 vocational-technical school. Kindergarten is mandatory for all five-year olds on a half-day basis. In addition, there is a half-day, four-year-old program for students in selected schools. In Calvert County, there are 11 elementary schools, 6 middle schools and 3 high schools, vocational tech school, a special environmental training program called “CHESPAX,” and the Arthur Storer Planetarium. Located at Calvert High School, the planetarium is available students and the community as a unique cultural facility that enables students and visitors to explore their world and our cosmos in ways not possible in an ordinary classroom. For test scores and other public school information call St. Mary’s County Public Schools at 301-475-4230. For information on Calvert County schools, you can call Cavert County Public Schools at 410-535-1700
Non-Public and Parochial Schools
Currently, there are several non-public and parochial schools in Southern Maryland that serve students from the kindergarten level through high school. Click here for names and phone numbers of St. Mary’s County private schools or for Calvert County private schools.
Universities and Colleges
The College of Southern Maryland (CSM), formerly Charles County Community
College, is a regionally accredited institution that prides itself on delivering quality higher education programs and services to more than 60 percent of the tri-county residents who attend higher education institutions. CSM also offers programs in Europe to Department of Defense (DOD) personnel stationed there through the “Maryland in Europe” program with the University of Maryland University College.
CSM offers an array of associate’s degree programs and brokers four-year degree programs locally through partnerships
with colleges and universities such as University of Maryland University College (UMUC), Johns Hopkins University (JHU), Towson University, and Capitol College. The college also offers job and career training opportunities, wellness and fitness activities, theater and fine arts programs, and personal enrichment courses, and serves the business community through programs offered by the Economic and Community Development Institute. CSM prepares its students for transfer to four-year colleges and provides them with the tools and resources necessary to succeed in a competitive workplace. The college also
focuses on workforce development with the participation of local businesses interested in growing and maintaining a healthy economy and community.
The College of Southern Maryland is now one institution serving all of Southern Maryland. It operates four campuses in the tri-county area and offers programs in Europe. The La Plata Campus, nestled on 173 wooded acres off of Mitchell Road and the Waldorf Center at Old Washington Road are both located in Charles County. The Prince Frederick Campus is located in Calvert County, and the Leonardtown Campus is situated in St. Mary’s County.
St. Mary’s College of Maryland , founded in 1840, is a public honors college offering the academic excellence of private education.
The average SAT scores of entering freshmen are the highest of any college in the state. The capstone of the St. Mary’s experience, the St. Mary’s Project, engages seniors in a program of independent research of the kind found only in a few prominent colleges.
In 1999, these distinctions led St. Mary’s College of Maryland to be ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the number one public liberal arts college in the nation. For more information on St. Mary’s College , check out the website or call 301-862-0380
The Southern Maryland Higher Education Center is a multi-purpose, multi-instructional, and multi-institutional higher education facility located in St. Mary’s County and created to serve the expanding needs of all of Southern Maryland. Currently, there are nine participating universities including George Washington University, Strayer College, Towson State University, Bowie State University, University of Maryland, and Johns Hopkins University offering twenty-three masters and upper division programs. These educational opportunities will serve the needs of the technical population at the NAWCAD and our quickly growing local community. For more information on the Southern Maryland Higher Education Center, call 301-737 2500.
For those wishing graduate degrees, several higher education institutions are located at or near NAWCAD. Some graduate programs currently offered in the area include: MA and MS degrees in Aerospace Technology, Computer Systems, Computer Science, Contract Management, Electrical Engineering, and Human Resource Management.
Health Care & Emergency
Located in Leonardtown, St. Mary’s Hospital serves county residents with state-of-the-art health-care offering the latest surgical, diagnostic and treatment procedures. The members of our Medical Staff are among the most specialized in the area.
The Calvert Memorial Hospita in Prince Frederick is a private, community-based hospital. Certified as a 141-bed acute care facility with an additional 16 skilled bed rehabilitative Transitional Care Unit, the hospital is accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, licensed by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. For information, call (410) 535-4000.
A rescue helicopter operated by the Maryland State Police is permanently stationed at St. Mary’s airport transporting critically injured people to regional trauma centers such as Children’s Hospital, Southern Maryland Hospital Center, Prince George’s Hospital Center and many others.
In addition to medical transport, the The Maryland State Police provide airborne delivery of law enforcement, and search and rescue services to the citizens of Southern Maryland. There are currently 8 stations around the state like the one at St. Mary’s Airport. Our local Trooper 7 spends over 400 hours a year airborne conducting over 350 medivacs and 700 law enforcement/search and rescue missions each year.
The St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Department has been the primary law enforcement agency of the County for the past five centuries. Established in 1637 to serve and protect the citizens of the Mother County of Maryland, the modern day Sheriff’s manages approximately 100 Deputies, 65 Correctional Officers, 35 civilian employees and more than 45 volunteers. St. Mary’s County has seven (7) Volunteer Fire Departments and six (6) Volunteer Rescue Squads. Together, they provide law enforcement and fire prevention services to the county’s 85,000 permanent residents and the additional 15,000 people who commute to the county for work and for recreation.
Calvert Control provides assistance to citizens in Calvert County needing emergency services. The volunteer fire department has 7 company locations throughout Calvert County, Advanced Life Support teams and Rescue Dive teams. The Sheriff’s Department is located in the main Courthouse in Prince Frederick. They respond to emergencies, citizen’s requests and/or complaints, provide traffic control, assist at functions needing law enforcement, and provide many other needed services to Calvert County residents and visitors.
Southern Maryland offers a wide variety of homes to select from in location, style, age, and price range. There are old established neighborhoods near the military base and in the county seat of Leonardtown and Prince Frederick. From St. Mary’s northern most location of Charlotte Hall to as far south as Point Lookout, there are new homes and new subdivisions appearing on the horizon to accommodate the sudden popularity of Lord Baltimore’s little colony. There are single family homes, townhomes, and condominium apartments available for sale and for rent in most major areas in Southern Maryland. There are rural residences, small and large, some on farms, others on lots or small acreages. Lot sizes in these communities range from a quarter acre homesite to several acres in the more rural areas of both counties. Some homesites are heavily wooded and private, some are cleared and ready for swingsets. With miles and miles of shoreline, there is also an abundance of prime waterfront homes from which to choose. Sheltered waterfront lots are available along the county’s various tributaries for boating enthusiasts, and Chesapeake Bay front or river front homes are available overlooking the scenic Patuxent or the historic Potomac Rivers.
Commuters who work in Waldorf and Washington, D.C. find a “better quality of life” in the rural atmosphere of St. Mary’s and Calvert Counties. Families are able to get larger homes and more land than they can in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.
According to the 1999 year end records of the Southern Maryland Association of REALTORS , the median home sales price in St. Mary’s County was $144,90 and in Calvert County was $152,552. Both are significantly lower than the average home price in the metro area. One to two bedroom
condominium apartments are available in the $70,000’s and $80,000’s and our newer executive homes on larger homesites may average $280,000. Waterfront homes are reasonably priced compared to many other waterfront areas. Home purchasers can expect to pay in excess of $300,000 for water frontage.
Home styles vary with most homes following more traditional architectural styles, such as ramblers/ranchers, two stories, or cape cods, but contemporary style homes are also obtainable. All residential areas are convenient to schools, parks, shopping centers, libraries, and health care facilities. From “starter” homes to retirement communities, Southern Maryland has something to offer everyone. Your RE/MAX 100 Top Professional can help guide you through your search to find the perfect home for you and your family.
The best way to get to know Southern Maryland, of course, is not to read about it, but to come and experience it for yourself. Whether relocating to the area due to take a position at the Navy facilities, or to satisfy a desire to move further from densely populated urban areas, you and your family will need assistance in finding a new home. When you’re
ready to consider Southern Maryland, RE/MAX 100 will be ready to help you begin experiencing our community from your
own front porch!