Heritage Montgomery is dedicated to preserving and promoting local history, culture, and distinctive natural areas and fostering a sense of stewardship and pride in our community. 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 interpretative and educational programs and services about local heritage; and
- Implementing, within Montgomery County, the provisions of the State of Maryland Heritage Areas Authority.
What is the Maryland Heritage Areas Program?
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 thirteen 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.
The objective of the program is to provide a source of funding, including grants, to local jurisdictions or other appropriate entities and to assist and encourage preservation and economic development of heritage areas.
MHAA has defined seven goals that summarize the heritage area program:
- To enhance the visitor appeal and enjoyment of the State’s history, culture, natural environment, and scenic beauty by enhancing the overall “product” – the visitor experience.
- To increase the economic activity associated with tourism, creating opportunities for small business development, job growth, and a stronger tax base.
- To encourage preservation and adaptive re-use of historic buildings, conservation of natural areas important to the State’s character and environment, and the continuity and authenticity of cultural arts, heritage attractions and traditions indigenous to the region.
- To enable Marylanders and visitors alike to have greater access to and understanding of the history and traditional cultures of the State and to understand the important events that took place here.
- To foster linkages among and between the heritage attractions that encourage visitors to explore, linger, and sample the diverse offerings of the State’s distinctive regions.
- To balance the impact of tourism activity with the quality of life enjoyed by residents.
- To accomplish these goals via partnerships among local and regional leaders, non-profit organizations, businesses, and State agencies.
By investing public dollars to create tourism-related products, spark 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.
Maryland Heritage Areas:
- Anacostia Trails (Maryland Milestones) – www.marylandmilestones.org
- Baltimore National Heritage Area – www.explorebaltimore.org
- Canal Place – www.canalplace.org
- Four Rivers – www.fourriversheritage.org
- Heart of Chesapeake Country – www.visitdorchester.org/about-dorchester/for-heritage-partners
- Heart of the Civil War – www.heartofthecivilwar.org
- Lower Eastern Shore – www.lowershoreheritage.org
- Lower Sesquehanna – www.hitourtrails.com
- Mountain Maryland Gateway to the West – www.garrettheritage.com
- Patapsco Greenway – www.patapscoheritagegreenway.org
- Southern Maryland – www.destinationsouthernmaryland.com
- Stories of the Chesapeake – www.storiesofthechesapeake.org