You are at St. John's, where you will discover the long-buried remains of a house built in 1638 for John Lewger, a leader of early Maryland who named this plantation in honor of his patron saint. For nearly a century, people lived in this place and made significant history. Here, Maryland's first elected assembly met, the first person of African descent voted in a legislature, and, for the first time in America, a woman requested "vote and voyce."
Surviving documents reveal a few of the stories of St. John's. Much more evidence has come from the labors of archaeologists. Explore the buried secrets of this place and meet some of the long-forgotten people who lived, worked, and died here.
Exploring St. John's required many different skills. Historians, archaeologists, architectural historians, artifact specialists, and others contributed to understanding this site. The project became a model of interdisciplinary research into early American life.
The above detail is from a map of the Chesapeake region drawn in 1670 by Augustine Herrman. A visitor to the site, Herrman noted its location with the name and a symbol for the house.
Throughout the museum are exhibits that will help you understand how archaeology, historical documents, and oral traditions deciphered the
role of St. John's played in the drama of Maryland's beginnings.
Over the years, St. John's served many purposes—as a private home, tobacco plantation, government meeting place, courtroom, governor's residence, public inn or ordinary, and records office. This painting suggests how St. John's may have looked while it served as an inn in the 1680s. The exhibit buildings are in the same locations as the 17th-century structures.