Maryland’s State Symbols
By John T. Marck
The Baltimore Oriole has been the official state bird since 1947. In 1882 special provisions were made for its protection. (Chapter 154, 1882). The oriole's colors are black and yellow, the same colors as in the Calvert family shield.
Photo: From: Birdwatchinghq.com
The skipjack was designated the state boat in 1985. Skipjacks, named after a leaping fish, are the last working boats under sail in the United States. During the winter months, they dredge oysters from the floor of the Chesapeake Bay.
Skipjack under sail on Chesapeake Bay. Photo by Marion E. Warren (Marion E. Warren Collection, MSA SC1890-BP7506, Maryland State Archives).
In as much as Maryland has an official State Dog, the Maryland legislature has designated the "Calico Cat," as the official State Cat, effective October 1, 2001.
Its colors of orange, black, and white are shared with the Baltimore oriole (State bird) and the Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly (State insect).
Photo: Calico Cat Sisters, Courtesy of Wikipedia
In 1989, the Maryland Blue Crab was designated as the official state Crustacean.
Photo: Maryland Department of Natural Resources
Astrodon johnstoni was made the official state dinosaur on October 1, 1998. It was the first identified dinosaur in Maryland, and lived during the early Creataceous period, between 130 million and 95 million years ago. It was one of the earliest dinosaur finds in the United States and the first sauropod (semiaquatic) dinosaur described in North America. In size its height was more than thirty feet, and its length between fifty and sixty feet. Teeth from the Astrodon johnstoni were first discovered in Muirkirk, (Prince George’s County) Maryland in 1858.
This dinosaur was a vegetarian, but as with all dinosaurs, it is difficult to determine the exact diet. It is believed that it browsed conifers and low-growing plants, and most likely was a forest dweller. Although its bones have been recovered from river deposits, it is believed that it did not spend much time in the water.
Astrodon johnstoni. Illustration by Mark Crowell, 1998, Maryland Manual
Effective October 1, 2008, the Smith Island Cake became the State Dessert of Maryland (Chapters 164 & 165, Acts of 2008; Code General Provisions Article, sec. 7-313). Traditionally, the cake consists of eight to ten layers of yellow cake with chocolate frosting between each layer and slathered over the whole. However, many variations have evolved, both in the flavors for frosting and the cake itself.
Smith Island Cake, Smith Island, Somerset County, Maryland, 2008, Maryland Manual
The Chesapeake Bay Retriever was declared the official state dog in 1964. It is named after the famous bay region of the breed’s origin. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever is one of only several breeds actually developed in America. Retrievers are working dogs, bred to recover waterfowl for hunters. They excel in both field and obedience trails, and are known for their strength, versatility, endurance, and devotion. They also work as service dogs for the drug enforcement agencies, and search and rescue work, as well as avalanche and sled dogs.
Chesapeake Bay Retriever. Photo courtesy of American Chesapeake Club, Inc. Maryland Manual
In 1998, the Maryland legislature designated "Milk," as the official State Drink, per Chapter 220, Acts of 1998.
Grazing cows, U.S. Naval Academy Dairy Farm, Gambrills, Maryland, June 1999. Photo by Diane P. Frese, Maryland Manual
Walking - When Maryland designated walking as the State Exercise on October 1, 2008, it became the first state in the nation to name a state exercise.
The striped bass or rockfish was designated as the official state fish in 1965. It is considered to be the most valuable fish in Maryland waters.
The father of George Calvert, first baronet of Baltimore, was Leonard Calvert, a country gentlemen of Yorkshire. He married Alicia Crossland, daughter and heiress of John Crossland, another Yorkshire gentlemen. Both families were of the class entitled to have arms. But it was not until George Calvert was made baronet in 1617, that there was a petition to have the arms of the Calvert’s certified.
The first exemplification was made by the English heralds in 1622. It showed the black and gold pales with bend that makes the first and fourth quarters of the Maryland State Flag today. The Calvert and Crossland arms are first shown quartered together in the Seal of Maryland. The original Seal probably had the quartering, but unfortunately, it was lost, and there is no exact description of its design. It was replaced in 1648 by Cecil Calvert, the second Lord Proprietary. He remarked that the replacement was very much like the first. The quartering of the two coats of arms together, therefore, is of old usage of the Seal. However, it does not appear in the Flag until much later. From 1634 until the Revolution, there are from time to time mentions of the Maryland Flag, and always these refer to the "yellow and black" of Lord Baltimore's colors, never to the red and white of the Crossland’s. After the Revolution, there was no definite state flag in existence, either in custom or in law. There were a number of variations of the design, used pretty much ad libitum, for decorations and military emblems.
In 1885, Clayton C. Hall, a scholar from Baltimore, delivered an address on the Maryland Seal to the Maryland Historical Society, subsequently having the speech reprinted in pamphlet form. He gave a copy of the pamphlet to a Mr. Sisco, a flag maker of Baltimore, the following year. Mr. Sisco manufactured a number of flags in the pattern of the one used today, apparently basing his design on information about the Seal gathered from the work of Mr. Hall. In 1888, on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, Maryland dedicated five monuments to Maryland regiments of the Army of the Potomac, who had taken part in the battle. A photograph of the ceremonies shows a flag in the pattern of the present one. The report of the monument commission, moreover, refers to this flag as the "State Flag." In 1889, on the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Battle of North Point (or Battle of Baltimore), flags were lavishly used in decorating buildings in Baltimore. The Baltimore Sun, describing these banners, makes it clear that they used both the Calvert and Crossland arms, but, from the wording of the story, one is in doubt as to whether the arms of the two families were combined in one flag or were shown in two different flags. In 1904, the present flag was adopted by law. The statute refers to it as the historic and traditional emblem of Maryland from the earliest times. It would appear, however, that in colonial days, the flag was simply the black and gold of the Calvert’s, and that during the first century of national existence, there was no official flag at all, and little agreement on any unofficial one.
The design of the Maryland Flag consists of the arms of the Calvert family quartered with the arms of the Crossland family. The Calvert family was that of the Lords Baltimore, the first Lord, George Calvert, being the founder of the colony of Maryland in 1634. The Crossland family was that of the first Lord's mother. As she had no brother and so was the heiress of her family estate, she was permitted under heraldic law to quarter her arms with those of her husband. Reading horizontally from the top of the staff, the first and second quarters are the Calvert and Crossland arms, respectively. Below are the same arms in reverse order. The Calvert arms are six pales (perpendicular stripes) alternately or (gold) and sable (black), transverses from dexter chief (upper right corner) to sinister base (lower left corner) by a bend (band probably representing an ancient shoulder belt for carrying a sword) counterchanged (black where it crosses a gold stripe, gold where it crosses a black one). In the upper quarter, the first gold pale must be next to the flagstaff, and the extreme upper corner of the bend will be black. This is important, because if the flag is displayed upside down, a black pale will be next to the flagstaff, which is incorrect. The Crossland arms are quarterly, argent (silver) and gules (red), and a cross bottony counterchanged. In flags the color silver is represented by white. The cross bottony is a cross with extremities resembling a tre-foil plant. Article 60A, Chapter 862, Acts of 1945, Annotated Code of Maryland, is the authority for ornamenting the staff of the Maryland Flag with a gold cross bottony. This Act reads, "If any ornament is affixed to the top of a flagstaff carrying the Flag of Maryland, it shall be a gold cross bottony." The adjective is usually spelled either "botone" or "botony," but as the form in the law is "bottony," that spelling becomes correct and legal in Maryland.
The Black-Eyed Susan has been the official state flower since 1918. A yellow daisy, it blooms in late summer.
Black-Eyed Susan’s, Anne Arundel County, Maryland, 1998. Photo by Elizabeth W. Newell, Maryland Manual
STATE FOLK DANCE
Square Dancing was designated the official State Folk Dance in 1994. This form of dance originated from dances from various cultures; the Morris and Maypole dances of England; ballroom dances of France; Church dances of Spain; and folk dances of Australia, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Poland, Russia, and Mexico.
STATE FOSSIL SHELL
The Ecphora quadricostata, an extinct snail was designated as the official state fossil shell in 1984. The Ecphora inhabited the Chesapeake Bay 5 to 12 million years ago. One of the shells was found in St. Mary's County in 1685, believed to be the first North American fossil illustrated in scientific works.
Ecphora gardnerae gardnerae (Wilson). Photo by James P. Reger, Maryland Manual
The Patuxent River Stone became the State Gem of Maryland effective October 1, 2004. The Patuxent River Stone is actually an agate, a cryptocrystalline form of quartz. The Patuxent River Stone's colors of red and yellow reflect the Maryland State Flag. The agate is found only in Maryland.
The thoroughbred was made the official state horse in 2003.
Thoroughbred horse, Maryland, 2003. Photo courtesy of Governor's Press Office.
The Baltimore checkerspot butterfly is the official arthropodic emblem of the state, designated in 1973. The first Lord Baltimore, George Calvert, is the namesake of the Baltimore checkerspot for his heraldic shield bore the same orange and black colors found in the checkerspot’s wings.
Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly. Photo by Mark S. Garland, Audubon Naturalist Society, Maryland Manual
The official state reptile is the Diamondback Terrapin, and is the mascot of the University of Maryland at College Park, Maryland’s largest state University. This lovely turtle received its name from the diamond-shaped, concentric rings on its upper shell. In early times, the colonists along the Chesapeake Bay ate these turtles that were prepared in Native-American fashion, which is roasted whole in live coals. Additionally, because they were quite abundant and easy to capture, landowners often fed their slaves and indentured servants terrapin meat. In the nineteenth century, many people came to appreciate this common turtle as gourmet food, especially when prepared in a stew made with cream and sherry. Consequently, due to its great demand, the supply was nearly depleted, and protective laws were enacted. In 1891, more than 89,000 pounds of terrapin were harvested from Maryland waters. Since 1956, the annual harvests were generally kept below 11,000 pounds. The Chesapeake diamondbacks are predators who prefer to live in unpolluted salt waters. During the winter months they hibernate underwater in mud; and in the spring, emerge to mate and bask in the sun on marshy banks.
Diamondback Terrapin. Photos by Willem M. Roosenburg, Ph.D., Ohio University, Maryland Manual
The Great Seal of Maryland is used by the Governor and the Secretary of State to authenticate Acts of the General Assembly and for other official purposes. The Secretary of State is the designated custodian of the Great Seal, and provides guidance on its use. Only the reverse of the Great Seal is used officially. In 1959, however, the obverse was described in statute and has been considered part of the Seal Often, it adorns public buildings.
The first Great Seal was brought over during the early days of the Maryland colony, but was stolen by Richard Ingle during his rebellion of 1645. Cecilius Calvert, 2nd Lord Baltimore, sent a similar seal from England in 1648 for the use of the Maryland Chancellor. Except for the period of crown rule (1692-1715), that Great Seal remained in use until the end of the 18th century, the Maryland Council having authorized continued use of the provincial seal on March 31, 1777 (Constitution of 1776, sec. 36). A new seal with republican imagery was adopted by the Governor and Council on February 5, 1794. Designed by Charles Willson Peale, the Maryland Seal of 1794 remained in use until 1817. In that year, the General Assembly adopted a single-sided Great Seal bearing an eagle holding a shield. Another seal authorized in 1854 depicted an eagle and a version of the Calvert arms (Chapter 81, Acts of 1854). Maryland readopted the reverse of the original Calvert seal in 1874 (Joint Resolution no. 9, Acts of 1874; Joint Resolution no. 5, Acts of 1876). This new seal corrected the imagery of the Calvert arms in the seal of 1854. It is the seal in use today. In 1959, the General Assembly adopted the seal by statute and codified its description (Chapter 396, Acts of 1959). Revisions to the law were enacted in 1969 and 2017 (Chapter 79, Acts of 1969; Chapter 496, Acts of 2017; Code General Provisions Article, secs. 7-101 through 7-104). Information Courtesy Maryland State Archives
Maryland State Seal, Reverse, at left and Obverse
FORMER GREAT SEALS OF MARYLAND
GREAT SEAL of c.1634
All that remains of the first Great Seal of Maryland is a fragment on a St. Mary's County land patent, dated July 10, 1640. The seal probably was similar to the 1648 seal. The great Seal of ca. 1634 was lost when it was "Treacherously and Violently taken away" by Richard Ingle and his accomplices in the anti-proprietary rebellion of 1644.
GREAT SEAL of 1648
When Benedict, fourth Lord Baltimore, embraced the Anglican faith, full control of Maryland was returned in 1715 to the formerly Catholic Calvert family. Use of the Great Seal of 1648 was resumed on all official acts of government. The obverse, showing Lord Baltimore in an equestrian pose, originally bore on its border the name of Cecilius, second Lord Baltimore. Sometime after Charles, third Lord Baltimore, became proprietor in 1675, the seal was re-cut substituting the Latin "Carolus" for the former Cecilius.
GREAT SEAL of 1648
Fashioned of silver, the Great Seal of 1648 was sent to Maryland by Lord Baltimore to replace the seal lost in Ingle's Rebellion. The reverse shows Lord Baltimore's hereditary coat of arms, incorporating heraldic elements of the Calvert (paternal) and Crossland (maternal) families. The plowman and fisherman supporting the shield probably signify the bounties of Maryland's land and water resources.
GREAT SEAL DEPUTED of WILLIAM & MARY, 1692
During the royal period, 1692-1715, the Great Seal of the Calvert family was replaced by royal seals, called deputed seals, for use on all official acts of government. The first of these deputed seals, the William & Mary Great Seal, is known by a single example on a proclamation of Governor John Seymour. The border design cannot be determined, but the center bears the WMR royal cipher. The Maryland great seals deputed were unique among colonial royal seals in incorporating the royal cipher.
GREAT SEAL DEPUTED OF QUEEN ANNE, 1706
No impression of the first Queen Anne Seal (1706-1712), or of the second Queen Anne Seal (1712-1715), which was dispatched to Maryland after the unification of England and Scotland, has been found on a Maryland document. A proof impression of the first Queen Anne Seal for Maryland was deposited in the British Royal Mint, however, and wax copies produced from the proof show its form.
GREAT SEAL of 1794
The first Constitution of Maryland provided that the Governor's Council determine what the great seal of the state should be. At first the Council simply ordered that the Great Seal of 1648 be continued. But in 1794 the Council ordered a new seal that eliminated all reference to the Calvert family. The new seal was designed by the noted American artist, Charles Willson Peale. The seal shows a tobacco hogshead and tobacco leaves, sheaves of wheat, a cornucopia, and a ship in the background, all symbols of Maryland's agriculture and trade.
GREAT SEAL of 1817
Impressions of all earlier Maryland seals had been made in softened wax. The wax seal was then suspended, pendant-like, from the document by a paper or cloth ribbon. The Great Seal of 1817 was designed to emboss the image into the paper itself, a more efficient means of sealing. The engraved seal was made of steel. Its main decorative device is the American eagle surrounded by a border ornamented with thirteen points, symbolizing the original thirteen states.
GREAT SEAL of 1854
In 1854 the General Assembly ordered a new seal. Agreeing with Governor E. Louis Lowe that Maryland's seal should "consist of the arms of the state, and not of a device which has no significant relation to its local history," the legislature ordered a return to the Calvert design. Unfortunately, a crude woodcut was used as the model. Several inaccuracies resulted, most notably the use of only five bars, or pales, in the Calvert quadrant of the shield, and the use of the "increase and multiply" motto on the scroll.
GREAT SEAL of 1876
The Great Seal of 1876 was ordered to correct the inaccuracies of the 1854 seal. The only important deviations from the original Calvert design were the addition of the date, 1632, to mark the years that the Charter of Maryland was granted, and reversing the direction of the pennons atop the two staffs. The seal was cut in brass in Paris, France, and placed in use in early 1879. Although new die have been cut, the 1876 seal remains the Great Seal of Maryland.
STATE SONG (Former)
Maryland, My Maryland,” a nine-stanza poem, was written by James Ryder Randall in 1861. Randall authored the poem in the early days of the Civil War because he was outraged when Union troops marched through Baltimore. This poem articulated his Confederate sympathies.
Maryland, My Maryland was adopted as the official state song in 1939.
NOTE: As of July 1, 2021, "Maryland, My Maryland" as the State song was repealed and not replaced by the General Assembly (Chapters 148 & 149, Acts of 2021).
Maryland, My Maryland
by James Ryder Randall
The Despot’s heel is on they shore, Maryland!
His torch is at thy temple door, Maryland!
Avenge the patriotic gore
That flecked the streets of Baltimore
And be the battle queen of yore, Maryland! My Maryland!
Hark to an exiled son’s appeal, Maryland!
My mother State! To thee I kneel, Maryland!
For life and death, for woe and weal,
Thy peerless chivalry reveal,
And grid they beauteous limbs with steel,
Maryland! My Maryland!
Thou wilt not cower in the dust, Maryland!
Thy beaming sword shall never rust, Maryland!
Remember Carroll’s sacred trust,
Remember Howard’s warlike thrust-
And all that slumbers with the just, Maryland! My Maryland!
Come! ’tis the red dawn of the day, Maryland!
Come with thy panoplied array, Maryland!
With Ringgold’s spirit for the fray,
With Watson’s blood at Monterey
With fearless Lowe and dashing May, Maryland! My Maryland!
Come! For thy shield is bright and strong, Maryland!
Come! For thy dalliance does thee wrong, Maryland!
Come to thine own heroic throng, Stalking with Liberty along,
And chaunt thy dauntless slogan song, Maryland! My Maryland!
Dear Mother! Burst the tyrant’s chain, Maryland!
Virginia should not call in vain, Maryland!
She meets her sisters on the plain -
“Sic semper!” ‘tis the proud refrain
That baffles minions back again, Maryland! My Maryland!
I see the blush upon my cheek, Maryland!
For thou wast ever bravely meek, Maryland!
But lo! there surges forth a shriek
From hill to hill, from creek to creek
Potomac calls to Chesapeake, Maryland! My Maryland!
Thou wilt not yield the vandal toll, Maryland!
Thou wilt not crook to his control, Maryland!
Better the fire upon thee roll,
Better the blade, the shot, the bowl,
Than crucifixion of the soul, Maryland! My Maryland!
I hear the distant thunder-hum, Maryland!
The Old Line’s bugle, fife, and drum, Maryland!
She is not dead, nor deaf, nor dumb -Huzza!
She spurns the Northern scum!
She breathes! She burns! She’ll come! She’ll come!
Maryland! My Maryland!
The equestrian sport of jousting was made Maryland's official sport in 1962. Jousting in its original form has generally been credited to a French man named Geoffori de Pruelli. The "sport" which at the time was more of an occupation, spread from France to Germany, to England, and into Europe during the tenth and twelfth centuries. Jousting tournaments were held as military exercises between the various nobles. These tournaments, which started peacefully, often turned into bloody battles between jealous champions. Winning these tournaments was one way for a low-born knight to make a quick name for himself and win riches beyond ordinary means. Over time, these petty local wars became more sport oriented and sophisticated and less a matter of life or death. Knights were considered gentlemen and were required to abide by the ideas of chivalry and fair play, then in vogue. Much of the credit for this fair-play code has always gone to King Arthur and the tales of the Round Table, a thirteenth century publicity stunt dreamed up by monks to raise money for rebuilding their abbey. The first accounts of "Running at the Rings" dates to the days of James I of England, whereby knights demonstrated their skill, since the rings were obviously much smaller to lance than a man. The death of several nobles and at least one king, King Henry II of France in 1559, brought about the demise of the man-to-man type jousting. Also during this time gunpowder was introduced into Europe from the Orient. Thus guns made warfare by horse-mounted lancers obsolete overnight. Although the precise evolution of ring jousting is not known, history does provide us with many well-documented great tournaments throughout the next several centuries. Cecil Calvert, Lord Baltimore, was the first to introduce jousting in Maryland. In present times, jousting in Europe has declined, whereas Americans have built interest steadily. Each autumn in Washington, D.C., a national title is contested, with riders from many states competing.
So what exactly is jousting? In keeping with traditions the modern knight is mounted on horseback, but instead of being dressed in a cumbersome suit of armor and charging at an opposing rider with a long pointed lance in an effort to unseat him, the knight of the twentieth century wears a conventional riding habit, and charges his mount down a dirt track laid out beneath three overhanging arches. He carries a traditional lance, and with it he endeavors to spear a ring suspended from each arch as his horse gallops down the track. In accordance with the rules of the sport, each rider is given three rides or charges at the so-called large rings, which are one inch in diameter. It is possible to have a total score of nine rings on three rides, since the knight has a chance to spear three rings on each charge. After all the knights have completed their three turns, the rings are reduced in size to three-quarters of an inch in diameter, and all the riders with a perfect score on the larger rings are allowed to have one ride on rings of this size. Subsequently the remaining riders with a perfect score again ride on rings of one-half inch in diameter, and this is where the victor usually emerges, as these very small rings are a severe test for even the best of the knights. In the case of a tie on one-half inch rings, the smallest is then used being one-quarter inch in diameter. To the inexperienced spectator, it may appear simple, but it isn't as easy as it looks. The knights spend many hours practicing, and depend heavily on their horses, as a well-trained mount is indispensable to a tournament rider. For this reason, jousters spend weeks training their horses to respond to words rather than to the reins. Each rider's undivided attention must be on the rings, and without a horse that is well-trained it would be impossible. Often it takes two to three years before a horse is ready for riding in tournaments. Unlike their ancestors, the modern knights do not devote their lives to jousting. They come from all walks of life; farmers, businessmen, professionals, as well as many others. Many represent the third, fourth and fifth generations of their family to participate in the sport. There are men, women, fathers and sons, brother combinations, and sister and brother combinations, all of whom ride for the love of the sport as there are no profits for the participants. Although prize money is awarded, this generally only covers the cost of the trip to the tournament, as many travel hundreds of miles with a car, horse, and trailer. Each knight in keeping with the tradition has a title such as "Knight of Cedar Lane" or "Knight of Little Woods" or in the case of a lady, it might be "Maid of Bartram Manor." These titles are chosen by the knights themselves and are usually names of estates, hometowns, streets, and occasionally one or two of them will take on a humorous aspect, such as "Knight of Will If I Can.
Jousting equipment has never been standardized, and is impossible to purchase from any store. For example, all the jousting lances are handmade. They average anywhere between five feet and seven feet in length and weigh anywhere between one and fifteen pounds, depending on the material used. The point of the lance is, on the average, two feet long and made of metal, aluminum, or stainless steel. The stock is usually made of wood, and its length depends largely on how long and how heavy the point is. The main concern in making a lance should be the balancing point, because when the lance is used it is held at the balance point. Additionally, very few jousting fields are alike, due to inadequate space available. An example of a field would be: Forty yards of starting room before the first arch. Thirty yards between the first and second, and second and third arches, then sixty yards after the last arch for stopping the horse, for a total of one hundred sixty yards. If this is not possible, yardage may be subtracted from the beginning and the end, however the thirty yards between each arch must stay the same, for the purpose of timing. A timing mark or pole is placed twenty yards before the first arch. Timing starts at this point and ends at the third arch, a total of eighty yards. Standard time to complete the course is nine seconds in regular jousts and eight seconds in championship jousts.
By tradition, immediately following a joust, the crowning ceremony is held. The winning knight steps forward to claim his prize and to place upon the head of the lady of his choice the traditional wreath of flowers. In performing this ritual he crowns her "Queen of Love and Beauty." At this time, the knights who placed second, third, and fourth also crown the ladies of their choice with wreaths of flowers, and these ladies become the first, second, and third maids of the Queen's Court. The National Jousting Association as well as the Jousting Hall of Fame are located in Natural Chimneys Regional Park, in Mt. Solon, Virginia. Each year since 1821 the "Hall of Fame Joust" has been held here. The Hall of Fame depicts an honor roll of Jousting Champions, as well as a history of the sport and jousting memorabilia. There are five jousting clubs or associations in Maryland. These are: The Maryland Jousting Tournament Association; The Amateur Jousting Club of Maryland, Inc.; The Central Maryland Jousting Club, Inc.; Eastern Shore of Maryland Jousting Association and the Western Maryland Jousting Club. Each year there are approximately fifty jousting tournaments, exhibitions, and championships held at various locations throughout the State of Maryland.
Photograph of Mr. Bruce Hoffman, Jousting, Courtesy of Ms. Peggy Hoffman
STATE TEAM SPORT
In 2004, Lacrosse was officially named the Team Sport of Maryland. Lacrosse is the oldest sport in North America dating back to the 17th century. Indians played lacrosse to heal the sick and to prepare for war.
Lacrosse players, University of Maryland vs. The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, April 2002. Photo by Rob Brown, Maryland Manual
STATE THEATER and STATE SUMMER THEATER
In 1978, "Center Stage," was designated as the official State Theater, (chapter 1003, Acts of 1978, Code State Government Article, sec. 13-309), and the "Olney Theater" was designated as the official Summer Theater.
Center Stage was founded in Baltimore in 1963. It is a nonprofit resident professional theater, whereby artists are invited to perform or to design costumes and sets for various productions, while living in housing provided by the theater for the duration of that respective production. Center Stage employs about one hundred artists and administrators annually. The theater offers a six-play season and more than 125,000 people attend each year. The productions are performed on one of two stages; a 541 seat Pearstone Theater, and the smaller Head Theater. All the prope used at these two theaters are made in the shops at Center Stage.
The original Center Stage Theater located at 11 East North Avenue, was destroyed by fire in 1974. Consequently, the theater acquired an old building that was partially renovated and once a part of Loyola College on Calvert Street, and opened here in 1975 where it remains today.
The Olney Theater was designated as the official State Summer Theater at the same time and by the same legislative act as Center Stage. Located in the town of Olney in Montgomery County, it is a nonprofit professional theater that produces seven shows per season.
Originally opened in 1941, the 450-seat theater, which was renovated in 1993, hosts a variety of musicals, plays and community projects, attended by more than 118, 000 annually. Certain events include the Summer Shakespeare Festival; the National Players Touring Company; and the National Players School Project, which is an educational program of performances for Maryland public schools. Also located at Olney is the Potomac Theatre Project of experimental and provocative plays.
Center Stage, 700 North Calvert St., Baltimore, Maryland. Photo courtesy of Center Stage, Maryland Manual
Olney Theatre, Olney-Sandy Spring Road (Route 108), Olney, Maryland, February 2003. Photo by Diane F. Evartt, Maryland Manual.
The state tree is the white oak or the Wye oak. While King Henry VIII ruled England (1509-1547) a white oak acorn sprouted in the earth of the Atlantic seaboard on the newly discovered continent of North America. The little seedling took root on a peninsula called "Chesopieoc" by the Indians. By the time Lord Baltimore's English settlers came and proclaimed the colony Maryland (1634) our oak was a magnificent, mature tree. Plantations sprang up along the Wye river site in the 1660s and a mill was established at the site. By the time, the United States had successfully survived the Revolution and Maryland had ratified the U.S. Constitution (1788) the Wye oak still lived and continued to live and survive the second war with England and leaf out every spring through the Civil War. Today the venerable oak is a part of the Wye Oak State Park, located in Talbot County.
Its height was ninety-five feet, with a horizontal spread of one hundred sixty-five feet. The trunk was more than twenty-one feet in circumference, and its age was estimated at well over four hundred years. Because of its inspiring tenacity and impressive size the state of Maryland designated the Wye Oak the official tree of Maryland in 1941. Sadly, the tree was destroyed in a severe thunderstorm on June 6, 2002.
Wye Oak Tree before destruction
Author photo of the Great Wye Oak after damaged by storm
A Splendid Time Is Guaranteed For All
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