Preserving a bit of maritime history


January 08, 2001|By Douglas Lamborne | Douglas Lamborne,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

BOATING IN Annapolis these days means maneuvering one's Mercedes for the best parking spot near the dock and strolling aboard to manhandle Chardonnay and crab balls without so much as pulling in a line.

The boat would have to be at least 30 feet in length, of course. But there was a time when folks used to perspire around boats in Annapolis, when there were wood shavings on the shop floor and swear words in blue-collar boat yards.

Mike Miron is trying to recapture that time, laboring mightily to put together the Annapolis Maritime Museum. He will be in City Council chambers tonight to lobby for support of a resolution by Alderman Ellen O. Moyer, a Ward 8 Democrat, asking the city to provide matching funds for a state bond bill to renovate the McNasby complex in Eastport.

The Annapolis Maritime Museum has been known since 1987 as the Barge House Museum, which sits on city property that includes the McNasby seafood plant.

"A consultant with the Maryland Historical Trust, who was helping us at the time with grants, sat down with our board and suggested we expand the scope of the museum," Miron said.

That led last year to the new name and a plan to move into 7,000 square feet of unused space at McNasby's, which is at the foot of Second Street on Back Creek. McNasby's, a former oyster-shucking plant, has 2,000 feet devoted to retail seafood sales. The Barge House is a former barge that served as housing for waterside workers decades ago.

The museum has been the work of earnest volunteers headed up by Peg Wallace, renowned arm-twister and wheedler - skills required to push a little museum along. She was responsible for getting Miron involved.

For most of three decades, Miron owned two gas stations in Annapolis. When he wasn't under the hood of a car, Miron would come up for air to gossip with neighbors about zoning issues or the local business scene. He served on the city's Planning Commission and rejuvenated the Eastport Business Association.

He developed a reputation for being a quiet force in the community and seemed intent on not calling attention to himself. His friendliness led Wallace to seek him out for her museum.

"I started by collecting oral histories," he said. He has since worked on a walking tour of Eastport and a slide show on the boat yards of Annapolis.

Those boat yards will figure prominently in the new museum, he said. Other major themes will be African-American contributions to maritime life in Annapolis and a history of sailing and yachting in the area. Plans also call for programs geared to children.

Two of Miron's neighbors, Terry Averill and David Barnes, have been involved with the design of the project.

Miron's civic experience has taught him to explore all the angles and to have answers ready for the inevitable questions. He set out to avoid a frequent Annapolis occurrence: A neighborhood is terror-stricken because of a rumor that some scheme was about to be imposed without citizen input. So he has been busy making presentations over the past few weeks.

In the museum's plans, he did not shy away from parking, a citywide obsession: "We will have an innovative transportation plan that incorporates public transit, a shuttle system and water taxi service as a way for people, not cars, to visit the museum."

Heritage Society series

The Shady Side Rural Heritage Society will have history on its menu as it begins its winter luncheon series on Wednesdays, Jan. 17 to Feb. 21, at the Captain Salem Avery House Museum on Shady Side Road.

This month's programs will feature:

Richard Dodd, curator of maritime history at the Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons, on Jan. 17. He will speak on maritime preservation on the Chesapeake Bay.

Pete Lesher, curator of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, on Jan. 24. He has lectured and written on such subjects as workboats, decoys and gunning.

Donald Shomette, author of "Lost Towns of Tidewater Maryland," on Jan. 31. He will discuss his book, which studies 10 towns and ports that flourished in Colonial times and eventually died.

Admission to individual luncheons is $8, and the full series costs $40. Programs begin at 11:30 a.m., and reservations may be made by calling 410-867-2866.

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