CCHA’s Interpretive Themes

April 15, 2024

CCHA’s Interpretive Themes were developed for the Five-Year Plan (FY2024-2028), which reflects our significant boundary amendment, approved in 2022. They replace the themes included in our original Management Plan (2000), which were outdated. Grant-seekers are asked, “Will the project sustain or support the regional identity, including any local priorities that have been identified by the local heritage area?” Citing these themes are one of the best ways to relate a project to the heritage area’s local priorities.

This New Interpretive Framework uses four primary themes: they are Crossroads of Place, Crossroads of Culture, Crossroads of Struggle for Equality and Freedom, and Crossroads of Social Change. The work recognizes and acknowledges all of our community members’ stories: inspired by the past, connecting to the present, and imagining the future.

I. Crossroads of Place

The stories of how our county’s peoples interacted with the natural landscape to shape the places we know today. Their actions continue towards shared goals of preserving and sustaining our environment for the present and for future generations.


  • Waterways: Local creeks, streams, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay – the ways the water connects us
  • Land Connectors: Trails, Roads, Landings, Railroads, Highways, Airports – the means with which our peoples have traveled across the land
  • Open Spaces: Parks, Recreational Opportunities
  • Stewardship: Conservation of the land and water, Ecology, Sustainability
  • Stewardship: Preservation of the Built Environment
  • Stewardship: Archaeology


  • Watershed
  • Environment
  • Indigenous Peoples
  • Waterways
  • Oysters, Crabs, Finfish
  • Birds – native to migratory
  • Agriculture: Tobacco, etc.
  • Railroads
  • Middle Passage (Port Markers, etc.)
  • Sacred Places
  • Burial grounds, cemeteries, discoveries of forgotten burials
  • Slave quarters
  • Taverns
  • Recreation
  • Erosion, Pollution
  • Climate Change, Sea-level rise
  • Open Spaces: Parks, Trails, etc.
  • Maritime Heritage
  • Watermen
  • Navigation
  • Lighthouses
  • Ferries
  • Boating
  • Military Heritage 
  • Forts
  • Archaeology
  • Sustainability
  • Eminent Domain (Government takeover of land, i.e., BWI Airport, Fort Meade)
  • Captain John Smith and NPS Captain John Smith National Historic Trail
  • NPS Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route
  • War of 1812 in the Chesapeake and NPS Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail

II. Crossroads of Culture

The stories of our county’s unique and diverse peoples — in their roles as leaders, innovators, artists, tradespeople, teachers, and creatives of all kinds. Through their interactions and cross-influences these change-makers have been creating new narratives, expressions, innovations, and imaginings of place.


  • The Indigenous: Our Area’s Original Inhabitants
  • Community Cross-Influences: Old and New Community Members, including Immigrants
  • Arts, Culture, Expression
  • Foodways
  • Innovation and Ingenuity 
  • Design for the Future: technology, media, more


  • ALL PEOPLES, including sub-communities, enclaves
  • Leaders, historical figures
  • Arts, Culture, Expression, Music, Dance
  • Community cross-influences
  • Cultural Traditions
  • Middle Passage (Port Markers, Kunta Kinte)
  • Immigrants
  • Connections
  • Anthropology
  • Technology
  • Trades and Tradespersons
  • Trades’ cultures – Watermen, Farmers, Ship-pilots
  • Boat-building
  • Positive results of Adaptation (survival to thriving)
  • Mentors to Mentees/Learners
  • Oral History
  • Communications and Publishing

III. Crossroads of Struggle for Equality and Freedom

The stories of peoples’ striving for freedom, not only our Nation’s freedom, but the struggles of those who had their freedom taken from them, and all those who have shown bravery and leadership in removing barriers and forging the foundation of the present day.


  • Nation’s Freedom: U.S. Naval Academy, National Cryptologic Museum, Maryland State House
  • Enslavement and Personal Freedom: The stories of the enslaved, from the Middle Passage to Plantations to Town Houses
  • Struggles for Personal Freedom: Runaways, Fugitives, Free Blacks
  • Community Inequality, Segregated communities: Highland Beach
  • Community Inequality, Segregated schools: Rosenwald Schools, Bates Legacy Center
  • Community Inequality, Segregated Expression: Carr’s and Elktonia Beaches, Hoppy Adams – “Race music” and segregated beaches, entertainment, and recreation


  • Leaders and historical figures
  • America 250
  • 1964-2024 Civil Rights Commemoration
  • Indigenous peoples
  • Leadership
  • Revolutionary War
  • Liberty Tree
  • Signers of Declaration of Independence
  • George Washington Resigns Commission
  • War of 1812
  • Bound Labor
  • African American Heritage
  • Inequities
  • Segregation
  • Freed Blacks
  • Right to Vote
  • Civil Rights
  • Social Injustices
  • Lynchings
  • Religious Freedom
  • Immigrants
  • Courthouses
  • Red Lining
  • Urban Renewal
  • Jim Crow Era
  • Crownsville Hospital
  • Almshouses
  • Economy
  • Entrepreneurs

IV. Crossroads of Social Change

The stories of fundamental social transformations over time that account for the contrasts – positive and negative – in our lives and livelihoods.


  • Commerce to Recreation
  • Railroads to Rail Trails
  • Workboats to Sailboats
  • Truck Farming to Commercial Food Distribution to Farmers’ Markets
  • Communications and Publishing — Printed Newspapers to Internet
  • Gender Identity and Social Roles
  • Expectations for Women: From Home-Bound to Every Profession
  • Changing Roles Based on Gender and Identity


  • Leaders, historical figures
  • Women’s Roles
  • Gender Identity, LGBTQIA+
  • Social Roles
  • Civil Rights
  • Historic Preservation
  • Crownsville Hospital
  • Almshouses
  • Technology
  • Conservation
  • Sustainability
  • Communications and Publishing 
  • Education and Schools
  • Industry
  • Economy
  • War and Strife
  • Sports
  • Artistic Expression
  • Ethnic Music influencing new modes of music
  • Carr’s Beach, Elktonia Beach, Hoppy Adams — music and influence

Interpretive Priorities

Chesapeake Crossroads’s interpretive priorities include the following “Themes Into Action” Crossroads of Discovery and Exploration: the means of creating access to our stories:

  • By the Sites: Renewed Exhibits, Hands-On Activities, Engaging Programs
  • By the Interpreters: Storytellers, Living History, and Reenactors
  • By the Recorders: Oral Historians
  • For the End-User: Brochures to Apps

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