The Harford community of Berkley, overlooking the Susquehanna River in the northeastern corner of the county, has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The hamlet is being recognized for its place in history, which included the effort by the Marquis de LaFayette to quell a rebellion within his troops while encamped at Col. James Rigbie's farm.
In addition, Berkley has been home to free land-holding African-Americans since the late 1700s and was a documented stop on the Underground Railroad.
Hosanna School, the first Freedmen's school for African-Americans in Harford County, was built in Berkley in 1867, and Berkley Road was a major north-south corridor for commerce, trade and travel for more than 100 years, serving as a portion of old U.S. 1.
"Berkley Crossroads deserves recognition for its place in history, and the county was happy to provide support for this project," said County Executive James M. Harkins. The Berkley Crossroads Preservation Project began in 1998.
The nomination to the National Register was submitted by Harford County government to the Governor's Consulting Committee on the National Register of Historic Places. There it was approved unanimously for submission to the U.S. Department of the Interior, where the listings are maintained.
Two grants from the Maryland Historical Trust provided funding to conduct oral histories in Berkley and publish a book on the community's past. This book, A Journey Through Berkley, Maryland: A Tapestry of Black and White Lives Woven Together Over 200 years at a Rural Crossroads, written by Constance R. Beims and Christine P. Tolbert, captures the interviews, providing a journey through individual lives as well as recording the historical facts and events that made this rural crossroads worthy of preservation.
"While the title of the book suggests that the journey is through Berkley's history, it was also an incredible journey for everyone who participated in this effort to fulfill all of the goals set by the community five years ago. The oral histories are done, Berkley is on the National Register and the stories of Berkley are recorded for the future," said Beims, coordinator of the Berkley Project. "We hope we have inspired others to preserve the histories of some of the other crossroads that are quickly disappearing from the maps across the United States," she said.
The book is available from the Historical Society of Harford County and Preston's Stationery, both in Bel Air, the Lock House Museum in Havre de Grace and the Discover Harford Tourism Council in Aberdeen.
An afternoon tea and book signing will be held at 2 p.m. Sept. 13 at Hosanna School and Church in Berkley.
All profits from book sales benefit Hosanna School Museum and the Berkley Preservation Project.