From the Field: Curatorship Program Manager Peter Morrill
From an early age, Peter Morrill has had a love for old buildings. Growing up in an 1870s-era Victorian house in Delaware City, Delaware, he developed this love as his parents restored the house throughout his childhood. His appreciation for cultural resources management and interpretation grew during years of seasonal work at Fort Delaware State Park until he headed south to the College of Charleston, where he obtained a degree in Historic Preservation and Community Planning. After graduation, he worked as a maintenance mechanic and carpenter with the National Park Service before making his way to Maryland to start a new job with the Maryland Historical Trust’s Preservation Easement Program.
In 2014, Morrill came to the Department of Natural Resources as the new Cultural Resources and Curatorship Program Manager for Land Acquisition and Planning. In this role, Morrill evaluates structures owned by the department for historic and architectural significance and works with land managers to develop appropriate uses for these structures. In some cases, when the department does not have a use for a particular historic property it has acquired, it may be considered for the Resident Curatorship Program. This program offers state-owned historic properties to private individuals, rent-free, on the condition the residents restore and maintain the structures in accordance with preservation standards. Since its inception in 1982, this program has protected nearly 50 historic properties across the state that would have otherwise been lost.
In addition to managing the Curatorship Program, Morrill reviews potential acquisitions for the presence of historic resources. This process includes inspecting, photographing, and conducting background research on structures that may potentially be acquired by the department. For historic properties under department ownership, Morrill has undertaken extensive architectural field work, to include producing measured drawings of numerous historic houses and outbuildings across the state. This work provides a better understanding of historic proper-ties in the department’s care and documents structures that are imminently threatened by demolition or collapse before they are lost forever. The results of some of this fieldwork in Susquehanna State Park was presented at the Maryland Historical Trust’s Architectural Fieldwork Symposium in October 2019.
Some of this field work has been used to help secure grant funding for preservation projects. Working with Robb Bailey in the Maryland Park Service and Charlie Mazurek in Engineering and Construction, the department was able to secure a $100,000 grant from the African American Heritage Preservation for the restoration of the Fort Frederick “Colored” School, a historic one-room schoolhouse that has been vacant and deteriorating for some time. The project will remove non-historic additions and restore the exterior of the schoolhouse to its original appearance.
Appears in Vol. 23, No. 1 of the Maryland Natural Resource magazine, spring 2020.