Photo credit: JPPM ,

Property Name: Patterson Archeological District
Date Listed: 4/12/1982
Inventory No.: CT-755
Location: 10515, Mackall Road (MD 265), Mackall, Calvert County

Description: The Patterson Archeological District contains within its 512 acres a representative sample of a range of archeological sites characteristic of both upland and lowland utilization of the Chesapeake Bay tidewater region during the prehistoric and historic periods. Ranging in elevation from sea level to 110 feet, the District is strategically located at the mouth of St. Leonard's Creek, the largest tributary of the tidal portions of the Patuxent River. The district has approximately 9000 feet of frontage on the Patuxent River and approximately 3000 feet of frontage on St. Leonard's Creek with marsh areas and streams providing access to the bluffs overlooking the shorelines. The ideal environmental setting was apparently attractive to a variety of people during both the prehistoric and historic periods. Many of the sites recorded on the property are associated with significant historical events or people, while the standing structures were altered or constructed under the guidance of the 20th century diplomat, Mr. Jefferson Patterson. While modern plowing has disturbed the upper layers of many sites, in situ prehistoric shell middens and storage pits as well as in situ historic house foundations, privy pits, and wells have been documented at various sites. Thus, the sites on the property contain both vertical and horizontal deposits which were useful in determining the extent and the nature of the prehistoric and historic occupations. The 31 standing structures on the property include three clusters of buildings conceived and constructed by the Pattersons since the 1930s, as well as two late-19th century structures which have been modified during the 20th century.

Significance: The 61 archeological sites formally identified to date in the Patterson Archeological District encompass a representative sample of the range of human activities dating from 9,000 years ago to the present. Located at the mouth of St. Leonard's Creek in the estuarine portions of the Patuxent River drainage, the 512-acre district contains dozens of prehistoric sites which are characteristic of the types of occupations associated with both the upland and lowland micro-environments of the middle Chesapeake Bay region. The property also contains a range of historic sites, such as colonial building locations--including the dwellings of Richard Smith, the first Attorney General of Maryland, and his son, Richard Smith, Jr., a Surveyor General for the colony; sites associated with the War of 1812 Battle of St. Leonard's Creek; an 19th and 20th century house sites of both white farm owners and African American tenants. The chronological continuity and cultural diversity represented by these sites makes the Patterson Archeological District a laboratory for exploring the changing human experience along the Patuxent River.