He was a pioneer. The first African-American scientist, Benjamin Banneker was a self-educated mathematician and astronomer. Born in 1731 near the Patapsco River in what is now Oella, Banneker lived and worked nearly his entire life in the area. He died in 1806.
Since 1998, the Banneker Historical Park and Museum has occupied the land on which his family farm stood. This Saturday, the museum, which has aimed to preserve Banneker's legacy through educational exhibits and displays, will celebrate its sixth anniversary.
"We are the largest original African-American historical site from its period," says Banneker Museum director Steven Lee of the 142-acre park and museum. "There's no other Colonial African-American site like it."
The museum's anniversary celebration begins at noon with Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr. officiating at the formal opening of the Banneker Museum's new Bannaky House. The restored stone structure, built in 1851, has a library, community meeting room and museum offices.
Visitors to the Bannaky House can browse displays from affiliates of the Friends of Banneker Historical Park, including the Black Writers Guild, the Banneker Museum Quilting Circle, the Mid-Atlantic Turtles and Tortoises Society, All God's Children and Awesome Camp Ben.
In the main building, the Banneker Post Station will offer a one-day-only Banneker commemorative postmark as a collectible or for mailing letters that day. Arthur McNeal of the African-American Philatelic and Numismatic Society will discuss and sell rare and unique African-American stamps and collectibles.
At 2:30 p.m., visitors can enjoy a live concert of world music at the main museum's Almanac Hall. The string ensemble Amistad will perform songs by Colonial-era English and American composers. And kora player Djimo Kouyate will perform traditional music of Senegambia, West Africa.
Horse-drawn carriage rides will be offered throughout the day, allowing visitors to ride through the park to see the grounds.
The anniversary celebration is sponsored by the Friends of Banneker Historical Park and the Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Parks.
The celebration runs from noon to 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Banneker Historical Park and Museum, 300 Oella Ave., Ellicott City. Free. Call 410-887-1081.
For more family events, see Page 38.