Chancellor’s Point is a 66-acre property off of Rosecroft Lane that belongs to Historic St. Mary’s City (HSMC). Several College students are currently working to restore the property so that it can be opened to the public.
A wide variety of projects are planned, including restoring an old building on the waterfront, putting in extensive gardens based on the local ecology, and creating a space for a local immersion program where students could live on the property instead or in addition to studying abroad and receive credit for work done there.
“It started first on a trip to Easter Island,” said Mike Benjamin ’09. After the Leave No Trace study tour, “Maggie O’Brien contacted me to talk about ways that we could further Leave No Trace programming…She suggested this site and so I kind of chased after it.” At the end of his St. Mary’s Project, Benjamin proposed a local immersion program. He brought the proposal to HSMC, the joint advisory group, and Maggie O’Brien. He was hired under contract by the state to continue the program after he graduated.
“There aren’t that many opportunities to get credit for time outside in a university setting,” Benjamin said. “We want this to be something that becomes part of the curricula for the college.” The hope is that it will also involve community members.
One of the first projects on the site will be to restore the waterfront building and transform it into a simple nature education center. “It’s in such bad shape that we’re just trying to stabilize it and secure it and keep the outdoors from the indoors. With what we have we can make a useful educational space,” said Benjamin. Due to budget constraints, “it’s not going to have the sort of green or LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] ideals we’d like it to have.”
Several other projects are currently in motion. Senior Cheryl Corwin has been working with professor Kate Meatyard to create raised beds made up of native plants. “We’re planning to have a nursery so that we can sell plants as well as use them to replant…in the future,” she said. The gardening project came out of, “this amorphous idea to plan out the landscape according to the cultural significance of the plants here.”
“Students who will hopefully be living on site can take care of them,” said Chris Madrigal ’09.
In addition, Rachel Clement ’08, and Madrigal, who are both enrolled in the MAT program, are working on the sustainable education aspects of the site. Their focus is on the community, and they hope to use the site to give, “everyone around a place to learn and teach sustainable living,” said Clement.
Those involved in the project recently formed a Chancellor’s Point Club.
“We realized that we were [almost] all upperclassmen,” said Corwin, one of the club members. For it to work, “We needed strong campus community support. Plus, we just wanted to get the word out that there’s all this opportunity,” she said.
On a recent trip opened to all interested students, over forty people showed up to tour the property and learn about the planned restoration. Several more put their names on a list for anyone interested in receiving more information.
The Chancellor’s Point Club will begin to have regular meetings in the upcoming semester. Those interested in the project can find more information on the Chancellor’s Point blog at http://smcm.edu/chancellorspoint/blog.