Rackliffe House Restoration Project Nears Halfway Point

BERLIN – The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Rackliffe House Trust, Inc., announced this week restoration efforts for the historic Rackliffe Plantation House at Assateague State Park have nearly reached midway.

“Few tidewater dwellings from the colonial era remain. The Rackliffe Plantation House stands out by virtue of its sea-front view, public accessibility, and well-documented picture of early merchant-planter life,” said Tom Patton of the Rackliffe House Trust, Inc. “It is the support from the community that is making this historic preservation project possible."

The property, located near the Assateague Bridge and bordering on Rum Pointe Golf Course, is a cradle of Maryland’s coastal history as it includes a prehistoric Native American campground, a colorful connection to early English merchant-planters and was a target of attacks by British raiding parties. Through a long-term curatorship lease with DNR, the Trust’s mission is to restore the ravaged structure to its stately 18th century appearance, provide for its curatorship and establish a heritage museum.

The museum will complement the natural resource focus of the National Park Service’s Barrier Island Visitors Center, the Assateague State Park Visitor Center, and the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore Education and Research Center, forming a “campus” setting. A walking path to the site will eventually form part of a trail system within the park.

“We are pleased with the successes that the partnership has accomplished thus far,” said DNR manager of curatorships and cultural resources Bruce Alexander. “From the replacement brickwork to the interior framework, these milestones would not be achievable without the integrated efforts of all involved.”

In addition to financial support, the Rackliffe House welcomes volunteers and their services in this effort. To become involved, visit www.rackcliffehouse.com or contact tom@rackliffehouse.com or Bruce Alexander at 410-260-8457.

Patton said the ongoing fundraising effort got a major shot in the arm on June 20 when the Summer Solstice Celebration was held at the UMES Coastal Ecology Lab to raise money for the restoration effort of the Rackliffe House.

The Rackliffe House Trust hosted an entertainment-filled evening with dinner, open bar, music, auctions and a hayride tour of the property.

The money raised at the event will be used to restore the Rackliffe House to its original colonial grandeur and its eventual opening to the public as the Coastal Bays Heritage Center. The money raised at the event is required to receive matching funds that been awarded to the Rackliffe House Trust through state and private grants that are contingent on community support. Every dollar donated will turn into two extra dollars to help complete the construction work.

“It was a great turnout from the community for the restoration of the Rackliffe House. I think we had approximately 180 people come out for the event. We met our target for revenues and, in fact, surpassed it a little bit,” Patton said. “It was just a gorgeous evening. It couldn’t have worked out any better. It was a great fundraising start for us as we continue to raise money to meet our match of the state bond.”