Parlett Family Proposes New Farm Museum in Charlotte Hall

By Guy Leonard, County Times

HOLLYWOOD, Md. — John K. Parlett, local developer and member of the family that until recently hosted the hugely popular Farm Life Festival in St. Mary’s County for more than a decade, proposed building a new museum in Charlotte Hall that memorializes farming and the area’s deep agricultural heritage.

Parlett’s father, John Knight Parlett, Sr., a former state delegate and county commissioner, started collecting farm equipment and other items used in agriculture in an effort to preserve the history of a way of life that was slowly disappearing from the region.

But the family patriarch died five years ago and the farm festival had become a burden to put on each year because of the expense and sheer volume of items the family had to maintain, his son said Friday.

The festival had its final run in 2009.

“This was a tough decision for my mom and the whole family,” Parlett said. “But we’re looking for a place to promote agriculture on a year round basis.”

Parlett made the proposal to members of the county’s agricultural community as well as to several county commissioners; the proposed building would be about 3,200 square feet and would be built next to the visitor’s center in Charlotte Hall.

Parlett said that the county’s gateway community would be the ideal place to build such a museum, which would house just a choice fraction of the farm related equipment and memorabilia his family had collected over the years.

Parlett said that his family was willing to donate $100,000 to the cost of the museum’s construction, about a quarter of what he estimated it would take to complete the project.

Parlett said that the farm museum was simply a proposal as there were no plans on paper to start the project.

“I’m planting a seed,” Parlett said.

Commissioner President Francis Jack Russell (D-St. George Island) said that Parlett’s proposal had not been discussed beyond his pitch last week and that he would “reserve judgment.”

“I knew they were trying to do something with the farm equipment… but this is the first I’ve heard of [a new museum],” Russell said.

The proposed site of the new museum would be on county-owned land and would require the approval of the board of county commissioners to begin construction.

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