Learn More About St. Clement's Island Museum
St. Clement’s Island Museum rests on the east shore of the Potomac River overlooking St. Clement’s Island, Maryland's First Colonial Landing in 1634. The museum’s mission concentrates on Maryland’s earliest history and Potomac River heritage.
The museum focuses on the English history that preceded the voyage to Maryland relating the religious and political issues of the 16th and 17th centuries. Here, visitors can discover the vision of George Calvert, the First Lord Baltimore, to found a colony incorporating religious views of tolerance and his sons’ implementation of this vision.
Visitors will learn of the voyage of the Ark and the Dove departing from the Isle of Wight in England on the feast day of St. Clement, the patron saint of mariners, following their treacherous crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, braving pirates and dangerous storms, and their venture up the Chesapeake Bay to the Potomac River.
Visitors will also learn about Father Andrew White’s written account of the voyage and landing on St. Clement’s Island and view the 7 x 20 foot mural depicting the colonial arrival along with an exhibit regarding their negotiation with the Native Americans for a permanent settlement.
The Potomac Room shares this river’s heritage of the Blackistone Lighthouse once on St. Clement’s Island along with the industries of hunting, crabbing, fishing and oystering.
Also located on the museum grounds you will find the "Little Red Schoolhouse" an authentic 19th century one-room school.
The museum is also host to an authentic historic watercraft, the Doris C, a Potomac River dory boat that worked the waters of the Potomac for decades in the early 1900s.
Learn More About St. Clement's Island State Park, Maryland's First Colonial Landing in 1634
In 1634, a group of colonists from England landed on the island escaping religious persecution. The colony of Maryland was soon established following the first landing on the island. Since those earliest days, St. Clement’s Island lay witness to nearly 400 years of history. The colonial years saw plantations spring up along the river shores, producing an infant tobacco industry and the promise of wealth. From those early years to well into the 20th century, it would inherit the name of Blackistone Island, denoting more than 200 years of ownership by the Blackistone Family. The Blackistone Lighthouse, built in 1851 by master lighthouse builder John Donahoo, stood on the south end of the island serving Potomac River mariners until it was decommissioned in 1932. The vacant lighthouse burned down in 1956 and was forever lost as an important monument to Potomac River heritage.
In 1934, to celebrate Maryland’s 300th birthday, Governor Albert Ritchie dedicated a 40-foot commemorative cross recognizing this site as the location where religious toleration in America had its foundation. It stands tall today and welcomes all with the same tribute to the brave colonists who risked their lives to seek an ideal America cherishes today. In 1962, the island returned to its original identity as St. Clement's Island when the Federal Government leased the island to the State of Maryland. Since that time, the island was designated as a state park and is managed by Maryland's Department of Natural Resources. Today, the island is accessible by private boat or by seasonal water taxi transportation at the St. Clement's Island Museum. There is a covered picnic pavilion with tables, and picnic tables and benches dot the scenic riverside shoreline on the east side of the island. There is a marked hiking trail and interpretive panels that offer visitors information about the island from colonial landing in 1634 to the present.
Through the efforts of the St. Clement's Hundred, a local community organization created for the preservation of St. Clement's Island, a replica of the Blackistone Lighthouse was constructed and completed in June of 2008. The replica is located on the southern end of the island and stands on higher ground and overlooks the ruins of the original lighthouse. This magnificent 2-story structure was built using the original blueprints of the 1851 lighthouse and offers a modern generation insight to the historical and cultural heritage of the island, the Potomac River, and the people who lived, worked, and visited here in the 19th and 20th centuries. The public can visit the lighthouse on select dates throughout the year.