LGBTQ+ Heritage Sites

FDA Protest 1988

About the Project

As part of an effort to tell the stories of LGBTQ+ people and places that significantly impacted our county’s development, the Historic Preservation Office will undertake architectural survey and archival research of sites associated with LGBTQ+ communities and leaders in Montgomery County.

Montgomery County is associated with pioneering LGBTQ+ political leaders, legal advocates, and artists, as well as activism that fought employment discrimination and government inaction amidst the AIDS crisis.

Documentation of LGBTQ+ historic sites recognizes the role of Montgomery County activists and contributes to the preservation of these significant histories and places. This effort will inform future work on Master Planning efforts and site-specific research and designation projects to ensure that these histories are inclusive and accurate.

Background

In May 2014, the National Park Service began a concerted effort to identify people, places, and events associated with the story of LGBTQ+ Americans. This emphasis resulted in the publication of LGBTQ America: A Theme Study for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer History.

The National Park Service also urged states and localities to increase the number of National Register of Historic Places listings associated with LGBTQ+ properties, which in 2015 made up less than .005% of total properties listed. In Maryland, there are no sites or districts listed in the National Register for LGBTQ+ historical significance.

In 2018, Preservation Maryland announced an organizational focus on LGBTQ+ history and secured a grant from the Maryland Historical Trust to support the creation of a historic context study of LGBTQ+ history in the state.

The groundbreaking Maryland LGBTQ Historic Context Study was completed in September 2020. The report, composed by Dr. Susan Ferentinos, author of Interpreting LGBT History at Historic Sites and Museums, represents only the second comprehensive statewide study of LGBTQ+ people and places to be completed in the country. Montgomery Planning’s Historic Preservation Office staff were proud to support this effort by serving as readers for the project and providing comments on early drafts of the study.

In a parallel effort, Preservation Maryland partnered with Benjamin Egerman to identify and add LGBTQ+ spaces in Maryland to the National Park Service’s LGBTQ America map. The 300 sites span from the 17th century to the present and reflect places where LGBTQ+ people lived, gathered, and advocated for themselves and others.

The Context Study identified numerous sites in Montgomery County that reflect different facets of the movement for LGBTQ+ rights, including political representation and legal advocacy, arts and culture, social movements and organizing, and health and employment discrimination. These themes and sites clearly reflect Montgomery County’s tradition of civic and political activism.

Next Steps

Work is ongoing to produce Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties (MIHP) forms that document Montgomery County sites connected with LGBTQ+ history at the local, county, and state-wide levels. Future phases may include nomination of significant sites to the National Register or pursuit of designation in the Locational Atlas & Index of Historic Sites or the county’s Master Plan for Historic Preservation.

Ways to Get Involved

Do you know people or places in Montgomery County relevant to this project? Reach out now and help us better understand the histories of LGBTQ+ people and places!

Last Updated: June 14, 2021