Reintegrating Public History and Environmental Education: Preservation and Interpretation of an Architectural Ruin at Java Plantation, Edgewater, Maryland
Ruck, January M.
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The mansion ruin at Java Plantation in Edgewater, Maryland, has deteriorated significantly since its abandonment as a dwelling in 1923. Located on a hilltop overlooking the Rhode River, a Chesapeake Bay tributary, the remains of a five-part Georgian mansion are anchored by a landscape that retains the rural character of its agricultural past. On-going archaeological investigation, along with recent transition from private control to ownership by the neighboring Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, makes the Java Plantation site unique among historic resources. This study provides an argument justifying the expenditure of financial and human resources for stabilization of the Java Plantation ruins based on an interpretation plan that partners public history with environmental education objectives. In addition, this investigation offers the field of preservation an example of how stabilized ruins may function as features on the landscape where heritage preservation and environmental conservations interests intersect in literal and symbolic ways.
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