Cabin John’s treasured Moses Hall and cemetery site was largely ignored early in the state’s initial efforts to characterize possible impact zones for the beltway expansion. Consequently, as part of NEPA/Section 106 process, the site was misrepresented in the state’s Cultural Resources Technical Report, putting it in significant jeopardy.
But thanks to the diligent efforts of a number of Moses Hall descendants, county historians, community volunteers, and Cabin John residents over the past year the state has reclassified the property. Officially, as part of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), there has been a “determination of eligibility for the Morningstar Tabernacle No. 88 Moses Hall and Cemetery, finding it [National Register of Historic Places] NRHP-eligible.” Subject to Maryland Historical Trust (MHT) concurrence with this finding, this is a big win for this important cultural resource.
Unfortunately, despite this recognition of historic significance, the Moses Hall & Cemetery property is still described in the DEIS as being “adversely affected” by all six build alternatives. According to MDOT SHA, the work proposed at this location includes widening along the outside of the I-495 inner loop to construct two new managed lanes and a new ramp to connect the managed lanes with River Road at the existing interchange.
As currently designed, the limits of disturbance (LOD) would impact the historic property, including portions of the Moses Hall foundation wall, a section of the former access road from Seven Locks Road, as well as potential grave locations. MDOT indicates that the agency is continuing to examine engineering avoidance alternatives at this location. Limited additional surface mapping and investigative studies are expected at the Moses Hall Lodge and cemetery property in the coming months.
Advocacy and preservation efforts related to the Moses Hall property and the Gibson Grove Church, which sits on the other side of the beltway along Seven Locks, are likely to be stepped up in the coming months. If you are interested in helping to work on these preservation efforts, please contact Charlotte Troup Leighton at firstname.lastname@example.org.