“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
St. Mary's City in St. Mary's County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

The Van Sweringen Site

The Van Sweringen Site Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), August 30, 2019
1. The Van Sweringen Site Marker
Nothing survives above ground at this site. We have learned about what was here from archaeological excavations and historical documents, especially an inventory taken in 1700.

William Smith built a two-room structure for Maryland's government in 1664. It was used for official purposes and included a meeting room for the Governor's Council and an office for storing the public records.

ca. 1678
When the government functions were moved to the new brick State House in 1676, Garrett Van Sweringen then took over the Council Chamber. He improved it with new chimneys, brick walls, and a kitchen, and converted it into a private inn.

Van Sweringen added a wooden extension to the east end of the building. He also rebuilt the kitchen with a brick floor and constructed a cooling house with a brick lined cellar. However, the capital was moved to Annapolis in 1695, and with it went the lodging house business. Van Sweringen died here in 1698.

ca. 1725
By 1700, the Van Sweringen family was living at
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the Council Chamber and continued to do so until 1721. Garrett Van Sweringen's son, Joseph, died on 1720. Joseph's widow, Mary Neal Van Sweringen, married the royal customs collector, William Deacon, and they resided here for 10 to 15 years. The site was abandoned by the 1740s.

Exploring the Site
Scholars have dug here many times. The first work was in the 1930s by architectural historian H. Chandlee Forman. Historic St. Mary's City archaeologists started excavations here in 1974, with the work continuing until 1985. These excavations produced a wide range of valuable insights. To answer more questions, diggers returned in 2005.

We now understand the Van Sweringen site in a general way. However, despite many years of exploration, this complex site still holds many mysteries that future archaeologists can try to solve.

Archaeology began at the Van Sweringen site in 1974 and was followed by many more seasons of excavation by Historic St. Mary's City staff.

Thousands of artifacts have been recovered which provide important clues about Garrett Van Sweringen's life and his activities at this site.

Erected by Historic St. Mary's City.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Anthropology & Archaeology
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Colonial EraNotable Buildings. A significant historical year for this entry is 1700.
Location. 38° 11.13′ N, 76° 26.044′ W. Marker is in St. Mary's City, Maryland, in St. Mary's County. Marker can be reached from Old State House Road west of Point Lookout Road (Maryland Route 5), on the left when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 47414 Old State House Road, Saint Marys City MD 20686, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Van Sweringen Family (here, next to this marker); An Innovative Entrepreneur (here, next to this marker); Meet Garrett Van Sweringen (here, next to this marker); A Busy Enterprise (here, next to this marker); From Many Lands (here, next to this marker); …Adjourn to the Arbour at Vansweringens (a few steps from this marker); Tobacco... "our meat, drink, clothing and monies" (a few steps from this marker); Keep It Clean (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in St. Mary's City.
Credits. This page was last revised on December 22, 2023. It was originally submitted on September 4, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 410 times since then and 78 times this year. Photo   1. submitted on September 4, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.

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May. 29, 2024