Cultural Heritage: A Legacy Worth Preserving

By Betsy Reid, Cultural Heritage Committee, Chair

The Alice Ferguson Foundation has a long and rich history and we have recently undertaken efforts to better preserve the legacy of Alice and Henry Ferguson by focusing on creating a Cultural Heritage Initiative that encompasses the preservation of historical buildings and landscapes, conservation of the Ferguson collections (historical photographs, works of art, books, archival material) and the development of programs that interpret and share our heritage with the public.

One of our goals is to increase visitation and strengthen our connections with professionals in the preservation and gardening communities as we feature our creative and rich cultural heritage, through house and garden tours, theater and concerts, and lectures. Alice Ferguson’s legacy is much broader than Hard Bargain Farm, as evidenced by her restoration of Chimney House, a historic property in Port Tobacco. Linda Simmons, Curator emerita of the Corcoran Gallery of Art and Cultural Heritage Advisor to AFF, was recently invited by the Society for the Restoration of Port Tobacco to give a lecture titled “Who Was Alice Ferguson?” at the Port Tobacco Courthouse in June. You can read a nice write-up about the lecture in the Southern Maryland News. After the lecture Kay Volman invited the guests to tour the Chimney House.

Fergie’s Gardeners sponsored programs that attracted many visitors to the Foundation. Several evening lectures included popular conversation on diverse topics ranging from mushroom hunting, to how to improve your garden soils, to local women artists and their studios. We also hosted house and garden tours for garden clubs and parents of home school students that proved informative and entertaining for our guests and lucrative for our garden club. Another fundraising effort was undertaken by producing note cards from historical photographs in the Ferguson archives and we welcomed generous donations to the “Pay Dirt Fund.” These funds allow us to hire needed help for maintaining the historical formal gardens.

Alice’s Scribes, a newly formed group, is enthusiastically transcribing letters and journals from the Ferguson archives to unlock stories, events, and relationships that marked their life and adventures at Hard Bargain Farm. Please contact Doris Sharp at [email protected] if you would like to be trained to participate in this effort.

The Cultural Heritage Committee and Fergie’s Gardeners wish to express their thanks to the dedicated volunteers and donors who work with staff at the Foundation to advance the goals of this program.

  • Linda Crocker Simmons

    Hi, Betsy, I really enjoyed your introductory entry for the Cultural Heritage program at Hard Bargain Farm of the Alice Ferguson Foundation. Yes, the committee is busy preserving, curating, researching and making this heritage known, truly a significant contribution to Maryland and regional history. I have just one suggestion for future blog entries — if it is technically possible — please always identify the creator or artist for illustrations. For that Christmas card showing Chimney House, the viewer could figure out the subject on their own, but they shouldn’t leave the website or blog without knowing it was drawn by Alice, one of the delightful silhouette images she drew for her stationery, cards, book and elsewhere. Her creative abilities were many and varied — let’s let the world know and see them.