The Historic St. Martins’ Church is an icon to us here at ShoreBread and to our local community. We can’t help but think that if it wasn’t there, then getting off the exit on Route 113 would be WAY different. That’s why the Historic St. Martins’ Church foundation has spent countless hours making sure this beautiful building is in tip-top shape, striving to ensure that the historic structure is around for many more years to come. (We’re grateful for their continuous effort, that’s for sure!)
At the helm of the restoration process is none other than Foundation President, Sherrie Beckstead, who’s been there since the very beginning. “We are completely and fully restored to 1756, but we are always undergoing continuous restoration efforts,” said Beckstead. “I mean, the building is over 150 years old, it’s constant.” Currently, the foundation is working on restoring the East Wall and working closely with The Maryland Historical Trust, who Beckstead gushed about. “They’re just really marvelous, everything we do is under them and we couldn’t be more grateful, it’s just a really special relationship.” The Foundation is lucky enough to work with Ray Cannetti, Master Mason, who has worked on most of the Williamsburg, VA building restoration projects. He is currently working on the East Wall at Historic St. Martins.
The real gem of the whole restoration process other than the church itself is the events. St. Martins’ is open every Monday until the end of September from 1PM-4PM for complimentary tours, with a historic specialist that knows the church itself inside and out, including the history from being a Church of England to its current status as a museum. “It’s a great cultural experience that really teaches you a lot about the region,” said Beckstead. “We still have so much to learn.”
One of the events we have our eye on is the Oyster Feast of St. Martin, which is actually in lieu of the original Feast of St. Martin that takes place all over the world. The Feast will take place on the lawn on Sunday, October 5th and will go from 3PM to 6PM. “This is the first year we’re having it earlier in the day. We’re having some great entertainment, obviously great good and it’s just going to be a fun fall festival,” said Beckstead.
The feast will promote foods, wines, beers and spirits highlighting local favorites like Burley Oak, Great Shoals Winery and oysters from Bay Landing Shellfish Company. “It’s just a wonderful, cultural event,” said Beckstead. “It’s a celebration of the local community to go out and have fun to support this place. We all feel honored and really special to be a part of it.” All the ticket proceeds go directly to benefitting the continued restoration.
In addition to the Oyster Feast, Historic St. Martin’s has plenty of other events planned throughout the rest of the year and into 2015. Ideas of having a debate have been in the works, (fun fact: debates used to take place in churches, St. Martin’s would like the community to relive some of that) and a cultural series of speakers from renowned authors to local professors from colleges all over the state of Maryland. “We just really want to increase education and awareness of beautiful St. Martin’s,” said Beckstead.
Most recently, Historic St. Martin’s has entered the spotlight as a highly sought after wedding venue. “Its story book,” said Beckstead. “We are getting so many inquiries from people in the DC, Baltimore and Annapolis area, they are really starting to catch on. We’re actually fully booked for October!”
Historic St. Martin’s is always looking for volunteers to help with any events or fundraisers they may be holding. With collaborations involving Salisbury University’s Nabb Center and University of Maryland, they are hoping to expand even more. “We are using St. Martin’s as a platform for cultural events and an academic haven to learn about our region, we are living our mission” said Beckstead. “This was our best year yet, fall is shaping up to be just as wonderful!”