Leonardtown Off The Beaten Path Tips by grandmaR
Leonardtown Off The Beaten Path: 8 reviews and 24 photos
St. Aloysius Gonzaga Catholic Church
This church is a prominent landmark on Leonardtown's main street. Catholics have had a church in Leonardtown since 1710. The school next door to the church is named after Father Andrew White who came with the first colonists on the Ark and the Dove. He was a Jesuit.
Father Andrew White is a regional school. Children from two other parishes - Our Lady's Church at Medley's Neck and St. Francis Xavier, Newtowne go to school here together with St. Aloysius, which traces its beginnings to 1640.
But it wasn't until 1866 that the parish got a resident pastor. It was run by the Jesuits until in the 1960s when the church was turned over to priests of the Archdiocese of Washington. Father Conley, the current priest, was appointed pastor in 1999.
St. Mary's Academy from Leonardtown Hollywood Rd
When you look at the old St. Mary's Academy building notice that the decorative brick patterning and Art Deco stone detailing enliven the exterior of its sober facade. The interior is mostly as original. It was one of the first Catholic schools for girls in St. Mary's County and the building stands on the site of Rose Hill, the former estate of Mr. James T. Blakistone. First opened in September of 1885, the Academy served St. Mary's County students continuously until its closure in 1981 when it merged with Ryken, the Catholic boys high school just south of Leonardtown..
The nun's living quarters were in a building to the west of the classroom building. My children took piano classes from one of the nuns, but they were never in the old high school building. There were tree lined drives from the highway to the St. Mary's Academy buildings.
The St. Mary's Academy classroom building is now a branch of the Charles County Community College (which is now called the College of Southern Maryland)
The County Jail was built in 1858. It is a two-story structure which housed prisoners of all kinds, including many well known bootleggers.
Among the exhibits are antiques and the original cannon from the Ark which is out front (one of two ships that the first settlers came to Maryland on - the other ship was the Dove).
The first floor was an apartment for, the jailer’s family. One room is now a visitors’ center, the other displays documents from the St. Mary's County archives like original seventeenth-century deeds and a presidential appointment signed by Thomas Jefferson.
Upstairs are the three cells and a re-creation of the office of Dr. P.J. Bean, who practiced in Leonardtown for sixty-six years until the 1980s.
Open Weds-Friday 12-4 pm.
41680 Tudor Place - at right angles to the old courthouse right out in front
Water side (front) of Tudor Hall
Tudor Hall was the home of Phillip Key, Francis Scott Key's uncle. It was willed to the county, and served for awhile as the main library, and then as county offices.
Unusual features include a hanging staircase, and the triple fireplace in the kitchen. The gardens with the ha-ha wall have been restored by the students at the Tech Center.
It is now the home of the St. Mary's County Historical Society
Open 10-2 Mon-Fri.
The Research Library is open 12:00 PM – 4:00 PM Thursday and Friday, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM Saturday.
Fortunately I don't need to pay admission as I am quite familiar with the building, having visited regularly when it was the county's main library. The kitchen with the triple fireplace was the children's room.
Church from across the street
The former St. Paul's United Methodist Church is a Gothic-style, concrete block building on Washington Street. It is bordered to the south by the old St. Mary's Theater building and exhibits the use of at least six different types of concrete blocks whose ornamental faces match those advertised by Sears, Roebuck, and Company of Chicago. Oral tradition notes that Lafe Graves, a builder, molded the concrete blocks on site.
The church has a rounded edge shingle tin roof. It also has tin ceilings inside. The tin panels display a range of decorative motifs including fleur-de-lis and Greek frets. It used to be the St. Paul's Methodist church, but they moved to their new church on the northwest side of town. When it was the Methodist church, my oldest daughter was married here.
The property for the church was purchased in 1909 by the Board of Trustees for the Parsonage Property of the Leonardtown Circuit, Baltimore District, Baltimore Conference, Methodist Episcopal Church from Harry M. Jones for $1,750. In 1961, a large Sunday school, designed by J. Raymond Mims, was added to the east side of the building. The church remained in their ownership until 1963 when St. Paul's Methodist Church, Incorporated received the property. The church changed ownership once again in 1991, when it was purchased by the Leonardtown Nazarene Church Foundation, Incorporated in 1991.
The new St. Paul's was build next to their cemetery. The tree that was there (photo 5) has now been cut down
Camalier House - now lawyer's offices
Camalier House, the stately brick home of Leonardtown attorney John A. Camalier was built in 1835. John A. Camalier pleaded the case of Congressman Harris (depicted in the mural in the Intro) to President Andrew Johnson, who agreed that Harris had been treated unfairly. He gave Camalier a pardon for Mr. Harris and told the attorney to invite Congressman Harris to the White House for dinner that night. The unrepentant Harris refused the dinner invitation in the strongest of terms. He returned to Leonardtown and was sent back to Congress at the next election.
There is a dormitory at Cathoic University named after the Camaliers.
I think this house was restored by the father of one of my daughter's high school friend. It is now offices (lawyers and a CPA).
Leonardtown Armory (now the library)
In 1950 Mrs. Mary Patterson Davidson gave Tudor Hall, a historic house located in Leonardtown, to the St. Mary's County government, as a gift, provided that it would specifically be used as a public library. Its intended purpose was to honor the St. Mary's County casualties of World Wars I and II. This saved St. Mary's County from being the only county in Maryland without a public library. The Library got a bookmobile and opened branches in Lexington Park and in Charlotte Hall.
As St. Mary's County grew, the library in Leonardtown outgrew Tudor Hall. In 1984 it moved to the old Armory building, where the National Guard and the Motor Vehicle Administration were once located. Now the top floor is used as a minimum security prison, and there is also a historical archive facility in this building.
Phone: 301-475-2846 ex. 16.
St. Mary's County is a very Catholic county, having been settled originally by Catholics from England seeking religious freedom. Father Andrew White was a Jesuit priest who came with the original settlers to Maryland and the Catholic elementary school in Leonardtown (next to St. Aloysius Gonzaga Church) is named after him.
The church OTOH is named for St. Aloysius Gonzaga. The church cemetery is down at the bottom of the hill on the north side of the town.
St. Mary's Ryken high school is a Catholic high school which is right across the street from me (outside the town limits) at the top of the next hill from the cemetery. It was formerly two high schools segregated by sex - Ryken was the boy's high school run by the Xavieran Brothers, and St. Mary's Academy was run by the nuns.
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