The Galesville Heritage Museum serves as an interpretive and orientation center for the historic waterside community of Galesville, founded in 1652. On this small 660 acre peninsula visitors can explore more than 350 years of history - elegant Tulip Hill (1756); the Quaker Burying Grounds and the site of the first Friends Meeting in Maryland (1672); Stewards' Shipyard, the slave Henry Wilson and the Rosenwald School which evoke memories of the area's plantation era and African American's march toward equality.
Visit steamboat landing which linked Galesville to other Chesapeake Bay ports, and Hartge's Yacht Yard, which for more than 80 years has served the area's sailors.
Visitors who arrive by boat or car will learn about the Chesapeake Bay's natural environment and the cultural landscape that links both land and water to the people who have created this community and others like it. One can visit the Museum with its interpretive exhibits or explore the village's history on their own by foot, car, bicycle and during summer months, historic water tours are available.
The museum is open Sunday, 1-4 pm from April through November or by appointment.
(Note: Many places fill to capacity on busy, nice weather days, especially holiday weekends. Please call ahead or visit the official website to get the most up-to-date information before visiting.)
Visitors at Galesville Heritage Museum are greeted by docents who answer questions about the community and its historic sites and describes the exhibits within the museum. The current exhibits include: artifacts indicative of the area's Native Indian settlements; artifacts discovered in the underwater archaeology at Steward Shipyard; documentation of local historical personages, building and businesses, and an exhibit on buildings associated with the county's African American residents. The museum has a substantial oral history library, many of which are videotaped. Visitors can view these video libraries at the museum. In the spring of 2006, a new exhibition on the area's history will be installed at the museum and a self-guided tour brochure of the village will be available to visitors. Together, with other historical organizations in south Anne Arundel County, the Galesville Heritage Museum participates in South County Sunday. Sponsored by the Four Rivers Heritage Area, this program encourages local residents and tourists to visit and enjoy the sites and pleasures of south Anne Arundel County.
Many of the visitors keep their boats locally (Hartge Yacht Yard, West River Yacht Harbor and West River Sailing Club) or sail to Galesville to dine at one of the fine local restaurants. Visitors can walk along the waterfront and down Main Street to its art gallery and antique stores, visit the West River Market, an oldtime country store and deli and the Hartge Nautical Museum. Kayaks can be rented at the West River Market, for visitors who want to explore the waterfront on their own.
Historic water-based tours are available each Sunday during the summer months. This tour takes visitors up Tenthouse Creek to the location where 17th century Quakers camped at yearly meetings. Across the creek is the 18th century plantation of Samuel Galloway, Tulip Hill, which is a designated National Historic Landmark. The tour passes Woodfield's oyster packing house and the West River Sailing Club, then along Galesville's waterfront, past the steamboat landing for the Emma Giles, down to Hartge's Boatyard and the archaeological site of Steward Shipyard.
On October 28, 1652, a land grant or "Certificate of Survey" was issued for 660 acres of land to John, Patience and Mary Brown, and John Clark, his wife, Elizabeth, and their children, John and Ann Clark. The area was called Brownton, and later the name changed to West River Landing and then to Galloways. These early settlers were Puritans, who became Quakers. They came into the province following the enactment of the famous "Act of Toleration" of 1649. Almost from the beginning West River Landing became the focal point of shipping and travel in this area. In 1684 it was officially designated a "port of entry" for checking imports and exports, along with Town Point at Herring Bay, Londontown on the South River and "Newtown", now Annapolis, on the Severn. The village continued to be the main port on the West River for both shipping and travel up to and through the steamboat era. Throughout colonial times the landing probably consisted of a wharf together with a warehouse or two and possibly a store or blacksmith shop.