[photograph of Smith Island Center] Smith Island Center
    on Maryland's only inhabited off-shore island in the Chesapeake Bay    
The Center is open daily May thru October from 12 to 4 p.m.

For more information
(800) 521-9189
Crisfield & Smith Island Cultural Alliance, Inc.
30451 Bailey Lane
Princess Anne MD 21853
[e-mail symbol] E-mail

Content Mural Film
Operation History Funding

Content:

The 3000 square foot Center building provides:

  • A small museum (small admission charge) with permanent exhibits related to the
    • History of the Island, working on the water and the interaction of people and the Chesapeake Bay
    • Role of women in Island life, and
    • Distinctive speech patterns which have developed on the Island, and means of communication, as well as
  • Special exhibits concerning Island life
  • Tourist information
  • Gift Shop
  • Shaded porches with benches/rocking chairs
  • Restrooms
  • A computerized genealogy data base is available.

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Mural

Smith Island was home to artist Reuben Becker whose paintings are owned and treasured throughout Maryland and across the country. He chose to live on the Island because of his strong feelings for the marshes, boats, water and people, and his paintings of these subjects are much in demand by those who are familiar with his work and many who visit the Island. Early in the planning for the Center, it was recognized that it should include a representation of this wonderful talent. Reuben responded to the request with an impressive thirty-foot mural, Sunset at Rhodes Point.  

 

 

 

 

 

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Film:

Land and Water, People and Time runs about 20 minutes and shows the history of the land and its people, their life on the water and in the community. Directed by Dr. Elaine Eff, Maryland Historical Trust.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Operation
Midge Patterson, Former Executive Director and Phil Gerald, President of the Board of Directors

The Center is operated by the Crisfield and Smith Island Cultural Alliance, Inc., a non-profit organization devoted to the preservation and exhibition of the cultural heritage of the region. The Alliance has the following Board of Directors:

  • Phillip L. Gerald, President
  • William Dize - Vice President
  • Nancy Clayton - Secretary
  • Robert Pollitt - Treasurer
  • Sandie Marriner - Executive Director
  • David Corbin, Jennifer Dize, Pastor Rick Edmund, Jennings Evans, Missy Evans, Mark Kitching - Members

The Center is open daily May thru October from 12 to 4p.m. It is staffed by Janet Tyler, an Island resident, who can readily answer visitors' questions.  

 

 

 

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History

The Center grew out of a request from the community for a place where the increasing numbers of tourists could learn about the Island, its history, economic and social life. Tourists visit the Island at the residents' busiest time--the crabbing season--and residents naturally find it difficult to respond to requests for information on a casual basis. They wanted to focus and structure the tourists visits. Residents are also quite aware that change is occurring in this tiny isolated community and there is a need to preserve and protect their history and heritage. It is now uncertain that children can follow their parents to work on the water and there is little opportunity for other employment in their community. As family homes are vacated, they are often purchased as summer homes by outsiders.

Planning began with a group of state agencies convened by the Secretary of State's office. A non-profit organization, the Crisfield & Smith Island Cultural Alliance, Inc. was formed in 1991 with a board of directors made up of residents of the Island, Crisfield and others who could bring special skills to the project. Working with the Somerset County Tourism Office, the Rural Development Center and the State, planning and fundraising were carried on. Construction of the Center Building began in September, 1994, was completed one year later, and the formal opening was celebrated July 4, 1996.

The Center's primary purposes are to provide;

  1. much-needed services for visitors to the Island (estimated to be more than 5,000 people a year), and
  2. a museum, the first interpretive work in a unique community which began as a farming community and turned to working on the water when land conditions no longer supported farming.

Research by scholars from several universities, the Maryland Historical Trust and lifetime residents developed the material for a film and supporting exhibits entitled Land and Water, People and Time

 

 

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Funding & Development
 

Funding through grants from:

  • The Economic Development Administration, United States Department of Commerce ($320,000)
  • A State of Maryland CDBG ($200,000)
  • Department of Natural Resources, State of Maryland
  • The Chesapeake Bay Trust
  • Bell Atlantic
  • Peninsula Bank
  • The Maryland Humanities Council
  • The Maryland Historical Trust
  • Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore
  • Various public and private donations
Design & Construction

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Copyright November 15, 1995, Crisfield & Smith Island Cultural Alliance, Inc.
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