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Search for 1st Charles Courthouse Nears a Verdict

March 14, 2008
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After years of frustration and failed attempts, a land surveyor is enlisted to help a historian find the first Charles County courthouse in Maryland dating all the way back to 1674.

Search for 1st Charles Courthouse Nears a Verdict

By Megan Greenwell
Washington Post Staff Writer

Thursday, March 13, 2008
About the time of Maryland's 300th anniversary in 1934, someone launched a search for the original Charles County courthouse, which stood from 1674 to 1727, but failed to find it. On the county's 300th anniversary 24 years later, someone tried again, with no better results.
Finally, as the county prepares to celebrate its 350th birthday this summer, a group of surveyors, archaeologists and genealogists thinks it has been found -- almost.
Officially, the first Charles courthouse remains the only one in Maryland whose exact location is unknown. For years, the Maryland State Archives has carried a note on its Web site stating that finding the precise site of the building was impossible. In an acknowledgment that local officials have given up the search, the county's tourism information Web site says the first courthouse was built in 1727, not 1674, a declaration that will change if the location is found.
"Everybody just figured it was lost," said Michael Sullivan, a developer and an amateur historian in the region. "They said it was impossible to find, which felt like a challenge."

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