The Friends of Benjamin Banneker
Benjamin Banneker Historical Park & Museum...
since it's conception...
"Approximately 12 years after its conception the Banneker museum opened it's doors in June of 1998. Since then, we have sown seeds for the development of our historical and ecological programs. We have offered a diverse array of exhibits, forestation, and have welcomed over 10,000 visitors. Indeed, this is only the start-up of this institution, that is yet, barely a toddler.
Perhaps what's most special about the Park & Museum's first year, has been the gathering of its friends, the volunteers, who together with their energy and support have, helped to shape and enable this young institution to progress. The range of volunteers had been great: from young middle school youths to retired senior citizens, from suits to baggie jeans, they have all come with a common heart, spirit and vision for the museum, that is the very soul that makes and institution grow."
. . . Steven X. Lee,
Museum Director and Curator,
from The Door Is Opened, 1998
This historical site brings Banneker and his times to life again. The Benjamin Banneker Historical Park & Museum, built on his family farm above the Patapsco River, is located in historic Oella, Maryland between the communities of Catonsville and Ellicott City. The site lies nine miles from "Baltimore Town," and forty miles from Washington, D.C.
For all to see when visiting the Benjamin Banneker Museum is a framed copy of the deed (or indenture) of 1737, for the transfer of land to the Bannakys when Benjamin was six years old. The transaction was recorded for the purchase of "more than a hundred acres," from Richard Gist to Robert Bannaky and Benjamin Bannaky, his son, for the consideration of 7,000 pounds of tobacco.
Richard Gist was a man of prominence in Baltimore County, as one of the commissioners responsible for the founding of Baltimore. Robert Bannaky's purchase of the land ensured permanent freedom and security for the Bannaky children at a time when slavery flourished all around them. Because the deed included Benjamin's name, he became the sole owner of the land after the death of his father in 1759.
The land, purchased in 1737, is the major portion of this property, bought by Baltimore County in 1985 for the Benjamin Banneker Historical Park where the museum is located today.
The Banneker Historical Park introduces visitors to Benjamin Banneker's unique story through the first phase of the museum building which was dedicated on June 9, 1998. More than 18,000 visitors have been welcomed since the grand opening.
This facility offers several gallery spaces, including exhibitions on the life and times of Benjamin Banneker, and a Community Gallery with changing exhibits from the greater community.
With the beginning of the new century, the Banneker Park and Museum enters the second phase of development. This new phase will bring period restoration of the park's circa 1850 Hines/Trueth stone farm house. It also develops a replica of the 18th century Banneker farmstead, including a colonial cabin and Banneker's apiary.
As a living history colonial farm, you will be able to visit inside the cabin, walk through a tobacco field and orchard groves, and sample fresh honey. The work of Phase II was begun in 1999 and we hope to complete this phase by the end of 2004.
"In 1976, John McGrain's extensive land records research resulted in the re-discovery of the location of the boundaries of the 100 acre Banneker farm in southwestern Baltimore County. An archeological survey of the Banneker farm, performed by the Maryland Historical Trust in 1983, succeeded in identifying the site of the Banneker farmstead complex within these boundaries. the Baltimore County Department of Recreation & Parks provided the principal funding for these investigations with additional financial support from the Maryland Historical Trust, the Maryland Humanities Council, and the National Park Service." . . .Robert Hurry, Banneker Archeology Project Director
One of the most astonishing finds during the survey was the foundation of the Banneker family cabins in the subsurface remains of the Banneker farm complex. Soil testing efforts were concentrated at the home site location. At this level burned earth evidenced the location of a former fire place, and revealed various layers of intentional fill deposits within a cellar.
At the bottom of the five foot deep cellar artifacts deposited while the overlying structure was occupied were discovered. The layers revealed high organic content charcoal, and rather large quantities of well preserved mammal bones, fish remains, and eggshell fragments as well as ceramic and metal artifacts. The ceramics included tin glazed earthenwares, course earthenwares, and salt glazed stoneware shards which date back to the 18th century.
MUSEUM'S ARCHEOLOGICAL ARTIFACTS
Wrought iron hoe blade
Hand wrought nail
Kaolin tobacco pipe bowl
Kaolin pipe stem fragments
Lead gun shot
1779 Spanish real