St. Mary’s County Historical Society


The St. Mary's County Historical Society Museum

The Society is the repository of a unique collection of Maryland memorabilia. These museum pieces are displayed on the first floor of Tudor Hall and in the Old Jail.

Tudor Hall treats the visitor to colonial architecture within the building itself. The unusual features of the house are the inset portico and beautiful hanging staircase in the main hall. This wide hall led through the house and down into the garden and a yew tree where members of the Barnes family are suspected to have been buried. The curving stairway led up to the second floor with its eight bedrooms, six with fireplaces. It is known that George Washington visited Tudor Hall to purchase grain. Other features include the kitchen with its triple fireplace, a much used back stairs, the captain's walk on the roof, and the "haw-haw" wall to contain grazing animals. Many early furniture and accessory pieces, donated to the Society, are on display.


The Old Jail Museum, located at 41625 Courthouse Drive in historic Leonardtown, dates from 1876 and was used as a jail until 1942. Visitors to the Old Jail, which is constructed of granite block and brick and flanked by a graceful magnolia tree, are treated to stories of life in a 19th Century jail and to some colorful local folk lore. They will hear, for example, the tale of Moll Dyer, an eccentric, impoverished noblewoman believed by the citizenry of the county in colonial days to have been a witch. On display at the jail is the mysterious Moll Dyer rock which, as legend has it, bears her hand print.

In addition to exhibits featuring artifacts and antique furniture, also on display is a cannon from the Ark, the ship that in company with the Dove, sailed the Atlantic from the Isle of Wight bringing the first colonists to Maryland's shores in 1634. This cannon, sitting proudly in front of The Old Jail, defended Maryland's first capital, St. Mary's City, for many years.

To see the cannon and other fascinating treasures from Maryland's wonderful past, come visit our Museum soon. The museum is open from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm on Thursday and Friday. Admission is free. For group tours, please call our Business Office a week in advance.