Making Memories at the Heritage Society Museum

Relive old memories and make new ones with family and friends at the Heritage Society of Essex and Middle River’s Opening Day celebration. On Saturday, April 7 from 10 am to 2 pm, the Heritage Society will unveil new displays and welcome special guests from the community to the Museum, which is housed in the former 1920 Fire/Police Station/Court House. The Heritage Society is a non-profit organization staffed by volunteers whose goal is the preservation of the history of Essex and Middle River.

The Museum is free and open to the public for guided tours every Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm from April through October. The first meeting of the Heritage Society was held at Essex Elementary on September 26, 1968, and the Museum opened exactly seven years later on September 26, 1975. This September will mark the organization’s 50th anniversary.

New exhibits include an updated Veterans room; sports exhibits, including an exhibit on the record-breaking speed boat racer Mildred Foulke of Essex; maritime and antique bottles, and beefed up fire and police displays featuring the donated uniform of retired Baltimore County Fire Department Lieutenant Charles Law who worked in the Museum when it was the fire station. “We’re really excited about our Opening Day celebration,” said Jenette Parish, President of the Heritage Society. “We have spent countless hours since our Tree Lighting in December revamping our current exhibits and creating new exhibits for our visitors to see.” “This year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Heritage Society, and we have many special events planned to commemorate this milestone,” she added. “We look forward to seeing everyone at our Opening Day to kick off a great year.”

The Baltimore County Police Department will be on hand for Opening Day, offering public safety information, giveaways for kids, and information on their Police Explorer program. The Essex Volunteer Fire Company will promote fire safety, and the Baltimore County Public Library will also be set up so visitors can sign up for library cards and learn about all the programs offered at the Essex branch. Chick-Fil-A Martin Plaza’s Cow mascot will greet visitors and give away mini moos with a free kids’ meal gift card for children who visit, while supplies last.

The Baltimore Paranormal Society, which has led investigations at the Museum, will bring some of their ghost hunting equipment along with evidence that they have captured for people to experience. Special guests M. Linda Martinak and Angela Martinak Sutherland, authors of “Essex and Middle River” from the “Then & Now” series will be holding a book signing from 12 to 1 pm.

Copies of the book will be available for purchase. In 1963, their father George Martinak wrote “A Short History of Essex and Middle River” while he was a student at Essex Community College. His daughters’ book, published in 2007, is a compilation of “then and now” pictures and historical facts about significant places in Essex and Middle River.

“Continuing our Dad’s work really made me feel proud of what he had begun so many years ago. He was a wonderful writer and amateur historian,” said Linda Martinak, who spent her first 10 years in Essex in a small bungalow on Margaret Avenue just down the street from the Police and Fire Department, which is now the Museum. The family then moved to Gerries Avenue, off of Mace. “It felt like we were carrying on his work and knowing how happy he must feel about us honoring his memory.”

“It was great living in a town where all of our grandparents and uncle and aunt lived within walking distance,” she said. “My maternal grandparents and an aunt lived on Eastern at Stewart. My paternal grandmother and an uncle lived on Franklin. It was so much fun being near them.”

“My favorite memory of Essex was the girls’ softball team during the 1960s. We played on a field that was behind the Senior Center, previously an Essex Community College building, and before that the Health Center. The field was at the corner of Woodward Drive and Franklin Avenue,” said Martinak, who has since moved to Marriottsville in western Howard County. “I can remember an older couple who sat on their front porch to watch us play and then would let us get water from their spigot on the side of the house.

And yes, for away games, we rode in the back of a pickup truck (and survived).” While Linda Martinak does not get to Essex and Middle River all that often, Angie Martinak Sutherland lives in Perry Hall and frequents Bowleys Quarters during sailing season. “I had thought we were finishing Dad’s work, but history is never finished,” said Martinak. “I can already see that as I read about Essex on Facebook and occasionally the newspaper…

I am looking forward to our visit to the museum.” The Heritage Society of Essex and Middle River Opening Day

Saturday, April 7 from 10 am to 2 pm

516 Eastern Blvd., Essex, MD 21221 FREE Admission The Museum closes in winter and reopens the first Saturday in April.

It will be open each Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm through fall.

For more information, go to[1], call (443) 579-5266 or “like” the Heritage Society of Essex and Middle River on Facebook.


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