Maryland Historical Society awards grants to three Montgomery County organizations

Two local historical societies and a museum receive capacity-building funds to put towards heritage projects

Three Montgomery County organizations win grants from Maryland Historical Society
The oral history of Marion Potter, right, Chevy Chase native and widow of former Montgomery County Executive Neal
Potter, is one of 125 oral histories in the CCHS collection. Here she is shown with her daughter, JoAnn, left, reviewing family photos and documents with former CCHS Director Stephanie Brown, center. Photo courtesy of Chevy Chase Historical Society.

Three Montgomery County historical organizations are among the winners of the Maryland Historical Society’s inaugural MdHS Pathways grant program. The Chevy Chase Historical Society, Germantown Historical Society and Sandy Spring Museum will each receive grants up to $20,000 to put towards heritage projects.

The goal of MdHS Pathways is to further develop and support historic sites, museums and other organizations across Maryland. This year, the grant program awarded $200,000 to 11 organizations representing seven counties that are preserving and sharing state history.

Montgomery Magazine talked to the Chevy Chase Historical Society, Germantown Historical Society and Sandy Spring Museum about how they will be using their MdHS Pathways grant.

Chevy Chase Historical Society

For nearly four decades, the Chevy Chase Historical Society (CCHS) has been recording interviews with longtime residents of Chevy Chase, amassing a collection of 125 oral histories. The MdHS Pathways grant will allow CCHS to expand the range of voices being included in the oral histories program and showcase stories from lesser heard communities.

“I think diversifying the voices in the collection is something that I’ve been looking forward to since I joined CCHS,” says Director Beth Huffer.

In the midst of the current coronavirus pandemic, CCHS is developing contingency plans in order to have the project completed by April 2022. With the struggles that nonprofits are experiencing, Huffer is grateful to have the funding that allows CCHS to move forward with their oral history project and engage with a wider audience.

“This grant project brings some life to what we are doing and we are just so thankful to be able to do it,” she says.

Germantown Historical Society

When applying for MdHS Pathways, the Germantown Historical Society (GHS) had one goal in mind: To design and build Maryland’s first banking museum. Constructed inside a converted bank, this unique museum will teach individuals about money and the banking system.

“We want to tell the whole history of banking, and this little bank is one part of that—but a very important part,” says Susan Soderberg, president of GHS. The society plans on preserving certain elements of the original bank in order to pay homage to the building’s historic nature.

When exploring the bank, GHS found boxes of bank files dating from 1924-1934 from clients including African Americans and female entrepreneurs—a rarity at a time—that will be included in a museum database. “These papers tell the story of the bank,” she says.

The GHS is currently in the design phase of the museum, with plans to finish by late next year. Its next goals include raising money for a matching grant.

Sandy Spring Museum

Sandy Spring Museum (SSM) is putting its MdHS Pathways grant towards an expansive marketing campaign. “We haven’t really had a large budget dedicated to marketing before, so this is really just a great opportunity for us to expand our marketing effort,” says Lauren Peirce, SSM’s marketing director.

“We are coming up on our 40th anniversary in 2021 and for the first 40 years, a lot of our audience has been that 7-mile radius around the museum. So, in the next 40 years, we want to expand that and keep it going,” says Peirce. Her goal is to reach other sections of Montgomery County, including Silver Spring, Gaithersburg, Germantown and Rockville.

With the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, Peirce says the marketing campaign’s anticipated end date is up in the air. She remains excited, however, at the prospect of bringing new faces to the museum.

“With the audience being kind of geographically close by right now, it’s always really exciting to bring in people from new areas, from like DC or Virginia,” says Peirce.


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