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  • (L-R) Jim Morrison, Dolores Reuter, Rick Anthony and Susan Morrison took a moment to recognize the work of the Friends of Hancock’s Resolution at the group’s recent 20th anniversary celebration.
    Photo by Stephanie Mennell Photography
    (L-R) Jim Morrison, Dolores Reuter, Rick Anthony and Susan Morrison took a moment to recognize the work of the Friends of Hancock’s Resolution at the group’s recent 20th anniversary celebration.

“Positive Led To Positive Led To Positive”

Dylan Roche
View Bio
July 12, 2017

Friends Of Hancock’s Resolution Marks
20 Years Of Preserving History

“If you like history, you ought to check out Hancock’s Resolution.”

That was a suggestion made to Jim Morrison one evening when he and his wife, Susan, were out to dinner with friends on Valentine’s Day 1997. The gentleman who made the suggestion, Tom Stinchcomb, had been talking history with Morrison for the better part of the night, so Morrison was intrigued by the idea.

Although they were Pasadena residents, he and Susan had never before visited the 18th-century historic farm down Bayside Beach Road at the very end of the peninsula. When they made their way over there, however, they found the historic farm in disrepair. “It was very sorry indeed, very sorry,” Morrison recalled.

What followed over the course of the next 20 years was an effort by the Morrisons and countless other volunteers — all working under the Friends of Hancock’s Resolution (FOHR) — to revitalize, maintain and promote Hancock’s Resolution as a valuable resource, a combination of working farm, educational park and tourist attraction.

“When we look back on it, it’s just a no-brainer that these people thought to preserve a property from the 1800s,” said Rick Anthony, director of the Department of Recreation and Parks for Anne Arundel County, who said he was “encouraged” to see so many people turn out for FOHR’s 20th anniversary celebration on June 23.

No-brainer or not, there weren’t many volunteers stepping up to take on Hancock’s Resolution in 1997. But after he found the site in disrepair, Morrison reached out to Anne Arundel County to express interest. He reached Donna Ware, a historic site planner for the county. “She told me, ‘Nobody has talked to me about that place in at least five years. It’s just forgotten about,’” Morrison recalled.

That was how it all started. Morrison caught the attention of County Executive John Gary, and a group of citizens stepped up to form the Friends group. The farmhouse and property underwent a $250,000 restoration — comprising $100,000 from Anne Arundel County, a $100,000 state bond bill, $40,000 from Maryland Historical Trust, and $10,000 raised by FOHR — and today, it operates as a working farm where visitors can experience what life was like in the 18th-century Chesapeake region.

“This all didn’t happen one-two-three, but positive led to positive led to positive,” Morrison said. “The people who work here are fabulous — they don’t get paid, but they pay for what they’re doing. They pay in backbreaking labor. You should see these people working in the garden and keeping this place up.”

As Anthony explained, the Department of Recreation and Parks depends on Friends groups to handle the upkeep and operations of all county parks. “We will provide guidelines and parameters, but as far as them forming and their mission, we leave it up to them quite a bit,” Anthony said. “Their responsibilities are the operating and management of the whole site. We have a liaison who acts as a point person for the department and identifies any needs that they aren’t able to handle. Most of those are structural needs, heavy lifting, but for the most part when it comes to interpretive programs, it’s completely on the Friends groups. We’re just there as a support agent.”

In 2015, FOHR formed the Hancock’s Resolution Foundation under the leadership of Henry Schmidt, a 10th-generation descendent of the Hancock family who has dedicated his free time in retirement to helping preserve the history of the farm. The foundation, Schmidt explained, is a fund for staffing Hancock’s Resolution. “My hope is that once we reach $1 million, the investment will be enough to support a full-time employee,” he said. “We need somebody on the property when we’re growing a garden and we have animals. You can’t do it all on volunteers alone.” Schmidt said that the foundation is halfway to its $1 million goal.

Another major milestone for FOHR has been breaking ground on a new visitor center. This brings to a conclusion several longstanding problems the volunteers have faced. The agriculturalists bemoaned the lack of a barn, and preservationists did not want to build a modern visitor center on historic property. “We finally came to the compromise that we’ll build a barn and make adequate room inside the barn for visitor center amenities,” Morrison explained. “It’s a win-win situation, and I think everyone is very happy we’re doing this.”

Schmidt expects that once the visitor center is finished, it will draw more volunteers to give their time to Hancock’s Resolution. “When you have something going, people want to be a part of it,” he said. “We want the community to be a part of what’s happening.”

This will ensure Friends of Hancock’s Resolution remains a strong and vibrant organization for 20 more years and even longer. That’s exactly what Schmidt wants, because his aim is to see that his family’s history, and the history of so many early Chesapeake residents, is maintained for future generations. “When I leave here — and I don’t plan on leaving anytime soon, even though I’m an old man — I want to leave something that’s operating and that has a future and that will be preserved and keep moving ahead,” he concluded.

See more photos from the Friends of Hancock's Resolution 20th-anniversary celebration here.

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