About Us

What is Heritage Montgomery?  


With a history stretching from Colonial times, Montgomery County has a long heritage evidenced by rich cultural and historical resources. As the area’s population has exploded in recent decades, there has been a growing awareness of the importance of heritage programs and a higher profile for the history and heritage resources of the county.  The Heritage Tourism Alliance of Montgomery County (Heritage Montgomery) is an initiative created by county leaders and state officials to raise the profile of the area’s heritage, ensuring that residents and visitors alike understand and value the county’s full history.  We want to encourage visitors to become local tourists, entice visitors to explore the county, stay longer & return more often.

Three thematic clusters define unique and distinctive features of Montgomery County:  

  • The Farming Cluster in the western part of the county is set in the 93,000 acre Agricultural Reserve, one of the most successful farmland preservation programs in the U.S.  Although Montgomery County is known for its urban regions, the Agricultural Reserve showcases historical landscapes that look much as they did in 19th- and early 20th- century America.  Poolesville, a farming center since the 18th century, is the gateway to the Farming Cluster. 
  • The Quaker Cluster is located in eastern Montgomery County.  The town of Sandy Spring was an early Quaker community and has an 1817 Friends Meetinghouse still in active use today.  The area was home to one of the earliest free black communities in the country; many homes in the area are believed to have been part of the Underground Railroad.
  • The Innovative Technology Path focuses on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal along the Potomac River and the Metropolitan Branch of the B & O Railroad which includes a number of significant late-19th century communities.  These endeavors relate directly to the growth and development of Montgomery County from the 17th through the 19th centuries.  Extraordinary engineering feats are on view all along the Canal and in particular at the 1833 Monocacy Aqueduct.  Sites along the Canal and the Potomac River played significant roles during the Civil War. 

Heritage Montgomery’s signature program, Heritage Days, a free, county-wide event, is held annually on the last weekend of June when over 40 sites are open to the public.

What is a Heritage Area?

The Maryland Heritage Areas Authority (MHAA) was created through state legislation in 1996 to promote historic preservation and areas of natural beauty in order to stimulate economic development through tourism. Each of Maryland’s eleven certified heritage areas is defined by a focus or theme that makes that place or region different from other areas in the state.  They exhibit tangible evidence of the area’s heritage in historic buildings and districts, distinctive cultural traditions, singular natural landscapes, as well as other resources such as museums, parks, and traditional ways of life as revealed in food, music, and art.  The unique stories of each heritage area attract not only out-of-state visitors, but local residents who are also looking to discover more about where they live. 

MHAA is housed in the Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) and is provided administrative staff by MDP's Division of Historical and Cultural Programs.  By investing public dollars to create tourism-related products, encourage matching private investment, and motivate local leadership, MHAA seeks to promote a balanced, sustainable level of heritage tourism that strengthens communities and improves the state’s quality of life.

The Heritage Tourism Alliance of Montgomery County was established by state legislation in 2003 as part of the Maryland Heritage Area Authority and became a Certified Heritage Area in 2004. 

Our Mission

Heritage Tourism Alliance of Montgomery County is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to helping Montgomery County use its heritage to develop tourism while protecting and promoting its cultural, historical, and natural resources.  Specifically:

•    Enhancing Montgomery County’s appeal to travelers who love history and culture;
•    Encouraging residents and visitors to understand and appreciate the history of the county and its culture;
•    Promoting tourism and economic activity;
•    Fostering preservation and stewardship of historic buildings and sites;
•    Providing and encouraging others to provide interpretive and educational programs and services about local heritage; and
•    Implementing, within Montgomery County, the provisions of the State of Maryland Heritage Areas Authority.