Thursday, October 22, 2009

Extended Hours Announced For New 'History On The Waterfront' Multimedia Walking Tour

Extra times added for Downrigging Weekend

CHESTERTOWN – During Downrigging Weekend, October 30-November 1, the popular new multimedia walking tour “History on the Waterfront: A Journey into Chestertown’s Past” will be open for extended hours.

The tour, created by the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, opened October 9; its regular hours of operation are Fridays from noon to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 40 p.m.

For Downrigging Weekend, tours will run during regular hours on Friday, and from 2 to 5 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.

“History on the Waterfront: A Journey into Chestertown’s Past” offers a walk back in time to an era when the streets of this port town bustled with revolutionaries and convicts, slave traders and heroes of the Underground Railroad.

The audio-guided tour, lasting approximately forty-five minutes, begins and ends at the home of the Starr Center, the c. 1746 riverfront Custom House. As participants stroll along the historic waterfront, they hear music, reenactments and firsthand accounts of life in the colonial port.

Exploring the inside of the Custom House, they delve into the lives of past residents, including Thomas Ringgold IV, who was both a leader in the fight for colonial rights and, at the same time, a large-scale slave trader.

Other actual historical figures in the tour include Isaac Mason, a young Chestertown slave who escaped through the Underground Railroad.

Participants have an opportunity to see one of Washington College’s most treasured artifacts, a 200-year-old painting of Chestertown, done by an anonymous artist a few years after the Revolution. One of the very few surviving depictions of an 18th-century Chesapeake landscape, and perhaps the richest in detail, the painting provides a unique visual entry point into the world the tour recreates.

“History on the Waterfront” was orchestrated by the Starr Center’s associate director, Jill Ogline Titus, and narrated by the Center’s director, Adam Goodheart. The Center’s program manager, Michael Buckley, who also produces the weekly radio series “Voices of the Chesapeake Bay,” oversaw the technical aspects of the production.

Students and faculty across several Washington College departments offered their talents to the creation of the tour, which showcases College and community expertise not just in American history, but in music, drama, and audio production. Those familiar with the local scene may make out several familiar voices, including that of Kent County’s beloved vocalist Karen Somerville.

Major funding was provided by the Maryland Humanities Council and other organizations, which saw the project as a landmark opportunity to connect Chestertown’s rich history to the larger stories of America, of the Chesapeake region, and of freedom and slavery in the 18th century.

The project, which will eventually include a web component and virtual tour, is funded by grants from the Helen Clay Frick Foundation, the Stories of the Chesapeake Heritage Area, and the PNC Foundation Legacy Project, with support from the Maryland Humanities Council.

For more information, call 410/810-7161; please check the Starr Center website at before visiting. Tours begin at the Custom House, 101 S. Water Street, at the intersection of Water and High Streets. They are free of charge.
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About the Starr Center
The C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience explores our nation’s history – and particularly the legacy of its Founding era – in innovative ways. Through educational programs, scholarship, and public outreach, and especially by supporting and fostering the art of written history, the Starr Center seeks to bridge the divide between past and present, and between the academic world and the public at large. From its base in the circa-1746 Custom House along Chestertown’s colonial waterfront, the Center also serves as a portal onto a world of opportunities for Washington College students. Its guiding principle is that now more than ever, a wider understanding of our shared past is fundamental to the continuing success of America’s democratic experiment. For more information on the Center, visit

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