The St. Clement's Island
The St. Clement’s Island Museum rests on the east
shore of the Potomac River overlooking St. Clement’s Island, Maryland's
First Colonial Landing in 1634. The Museum’s mission concentrates on
Maryland’s earliest history and Potomac River heritage.
The Museum focuses on the English history that preceded
the voyage to Maryland relating the religious and political issues of
the 16th and 17th centuries. Here you discover the vision of George
Calvert, the First Lord Baltimore, to found a colony incorporating
religious Views of St. Clement's Island tolerance and his sons’
implementation of this vision.
will learn of the voyage of The Ark and The Dove departing from the Isle
of Wight in England on the feast day of St. Clement, the patron saint of
mariners. Follow the treacherous crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, braving
pirates and dangerous storms, and their venture up the Chesapeake Bay to
the Potomac River.
Discover Father Andrew White’s
written account of the voyage and landing on St. Clement’s Island.
View the 7 by 20 foot mural depicting the colonial arrival along with an
exhibit regarding their negotiation with the Native Americans for a
The Potomac Room shares this
river’s heritage of the Blackistone Lighthouse once on St. Clement’s
Island along with the industries of hunting, crabbing, fishing and
Also on the Museum
grounds you will find the “Little Red Schoolhouse,” an authentic 19th
century one-room school. Formerly known as the
School, this building was moved to its present location in 1991 where it
has been restored and preserved as a St. Mary’s County historical
The Museum is also host
to an authentic historic watercraft, the Doris C, a Potomac River
dory boat that work the waters of the Potomac for decades in the early
|Hours of Operation
October 1 through December
12 noon to 4 p.m.
Call for extended holiday
schedule in December.
January 4 to March 24
through Friday. Closed Open by appointment only
New Year's Day
Second Saturday of July for
Day After Thanksgiving
Museum guided tours available by pre-arrangement with the
• Please call St. Clement's
Island Island Museum for information on fall charters.
• Admission: $3 adults, $1.50 Children 6 -
18, Free Children 5 and under.
• Guided Tours for
students and adults are available by pre-arrangement with the
• Pier and docking facilities
• Picnic tables available riverside.
The St. Clement’s Island Museum and grounds and the Little Red
Schoolhouse are A.D.A. compliant.
38370 Point Breeze Road,
St. Clement’s Island
Maryland's First Colonial
Maryland Begins Here!
George Calvert died before he could visit Terra
Mariae, or “Mary’s Land.” His son, Cecil, accepted the charter and made
plans for the voyage. Each adult going to Maryland would be granted 100
acres, each child, 50. Indentured servants would receive personal
supplies and food.
for leaving England were simple. For the Catholics aboard the
Ark and the Dove, it was to escape persecution and being
marginalized socially and economically. For Protestants, it was
to seek a better life and like their Catholic shipmates, be open
to opportunities the New World offered – opportunities that made
the risks worthwhile.
George Calvert, a Catholic, was
well-regarded by the English court. The King, James I, St.
Clement's Island admired Calvert’s diplomatic skills and
knighted him, making him Lord Baltimore. To the Protestant King,
Calvert’s Catholicism was not significant, although Catholics
throughout England and its Empire were constrained from
practicing their religion openly. Nevertheless, Calvert resigned
his royal posts and asked the King for a land grant in the
colonies where he, his family and others seeking religious
freedom could settle. James I died but his successor, Charles I,
acceded to Calvert’s request, granting him the land “to the true
meridian of the first fountains of the River Pattowmeck.” The
land would be named for the wife of Charles I, Henrietta Maria.
Cecil’s brother, Leonard, led the small group
of colonists to the New World. Seventeen Catholic gentlemen signed up to
go, along with three Jesuit priests and about 140 others, most of whom
were probably Protestants. A small number of women also made the trip.
On November 23, 1633, the Ark, a 360-ton ship, and the Dove, a 60-ton
pinnace, set sail from Cowes, Isle of Wight, England. The ships entered
the Chesapeake Bay on March 3, 1634. They sailed up the Potomac River
and landed at an island which they named for St. Clement, patron saint
of sailors, on whose feast day they had departed. On March 25, the
Catholic passengers assembled at a mass celebrated by Father Andrew
White, S.J. – the first Roman Catholic mass in the 13 English-speaking
||George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore, had decided before
his death that Maryland was not to be a colony just for
Catholics, but a place where Christians of different
denominations could practice their faith without impediment. The
Maryland colony did not recognize any one religion keeping
separate those issues of church and state. Religious toleration
became the official policy of the Maryland colony, as did
recognition of the Native Americans as a separate people with
inherent rights. This was extraordinary for the time, as views
in the other colonies and the mother country were sharply
different. These two progressive pieces of 17th-century policy
foreshadowed the provisions of the U. S. Constitution
guaranteeing separation of church and state and subsequent laws
enacted to protect civil rights.
|Since those earliest days, St. Clement’s Island
lay witness from its vantage point, swept by wind, storms, and
tide, to many evolutions. The colonial years saw plantations
spring up along the river shores producing an infant tobacco
industry and the promise of wealth. From those infant years to
well into the 20th, it would inherit the name of Blackistone
Island, as signature to more than 200 years of ownership by the
Blackistone family. The Blackistone Lighthouse, built in 1851 by
master lighthouse builder John Donahoo, stood on the south end
of the island serving Potomac River mariners until it was
decommissioned in 1932. The vacant lighthouse was burned by
vandals in 1956 and forever lost as an important monument to
Potomac River heritage.
In 1934, to celebrate Maryland’s
300th birthday, Governor Albert Ritchie, dedicated a 40- foot
commemorative cross recognizing this site as the location where
religious toleration in America had its foundation. It stands
tall today and welcomes all with the same tribute to the brave
colonists who risked their lives to seek an ideal America
|In 1962, the island returned to its
original identity as St. Clement's Island when the Federal
Government leased the island to the State of Maryland. Since
that time, the island was designated as a state park and is
managed by Maryland's Department of Natural Resources. Today,
the island is accessible by private boat or by seasonal water
taxi transportation provided by the St. Mary's County Museum
Division at the St. Clement's Island Museum in Colton's Point.
There is a covered picnic pavilion with tables and grills and
picnic tables and benches dot the scenic riverside shoreline on
the east side of the island. There is a marked hiking trail and
interpretive panels that offer visitors information about the
island from colonial landing in 1634 to the present.
|Through the efforts of the St. Clement's
Hundred, a local community organization created for the
preservation of St. Clement's Island, a replica of the
Blackistone Lighthouse was constructed and completed in June of
2008. The replica is located on the southern end of the island
and stands on higher ground and overlooks the ruins of the
original lighthouse. This magnificent 2-story structure was
built using the original blueprints of the 1851 lighthouse and
offers a modern generation insight to the historical and
cultural heritage of the island, the Potomac River, and the
people who lived, worked, and visited here in the 19th and 20th
Take 495/95 to
Beltway to Exit 7a (Route 5 South to Waldorf).
Follow Route 5 South to Mechanicsville where Route 5
South will bear right toward Leonardtown. Follow
Route 5 South to Morganza and turn right onto Route 242
South to the end at Colton’s Point. Follow Museum
Take State Route 301 to 234
East to Clements. Turn right on Route 242 South to
the end at Colton’s Point. Follow Museum parking