The Maryland Historical Trust, the state agency that preserves and interprets Maryland’s history, recently presented an Outstanding Stewardship award to the National Park Service and the C & O Canal Trust for its Canal Quarters Program, which allows the public to stay overnight in many of the historic lock houses adjacent to the towpath. NPS acquired the 184-mile long Chesapeake and Ohio Canal with 1,300 historic structures, and figuring out what to do with all of them has been a challenge for decades. Partnering with the nonprofit C & O Canal Trust, NPS developed a new model for adaptive reuse that allows visitors to stay overnight while traveling along the canal. Although the buildings are among the park’s primary historic “artifacts”, many were vacant and only served as “scene setters” for the park’s four million annual visitors. The resulting program not only preserves the buildings, but also allows them to be used in a way that creates a memorable experience for visitors (and probably earns some new revenue!). Congratulations on a fine idea and getting it implemented despite the bureaucracy of the federal government!
Learn more at “Maryland Historical Trust honors program offering lodging in C&O Canal lock houses” in the Washington Post (February 27, 2012).