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Scale Model Takes Havre de Grace Back to the Day Before the War of 1812 Came to the Town

January 30, 2012

A group of volunteers has been working for nearly a year on a scale model of Havre de Grace as it existed the day before the British raided the village in May 1813.   This afternoon, R. Madison Mitchell (Mitch), one of the modelers, took time out from shaping the exhibit to discuss the handiwork of his team with a group of visitors.  They’ve worked from old maps, land records, tax assessments, newspapers and more to accurately recreate the place as it peacefully existed the day before the enemy attacked.

Painstakingly, the group has built, in miniature, the port at the top of the Chesapeake.  It was a small place with about 250 residents and 50 homes when the British savagely stormed into the fishing village on the morning of May 3, 1813, the enemy almost completely destroying it.  After taking possession of the place and “plundering the stores of all worth taking they set fire to the two taverns,” 19 dwelling houses, and 21 stables and outhouses, besides all the craft and stages near the town, one newspaper reported.  “The British have laid in ashes the beautiful village of Havre-de Grace!  The war has now come to our own doors,” another declared.

Despite the rampage and the devastation from the flames, it recovered.  Fortunately, few American communities have had to rebuild from such devastation at the hands of an invading foreign force, according to the National Register Nomination.

Week after week, the miniature layout, occupying a space in the Visitors Center, has grown as the landscape, roads, waterfront, buildings and other elements were designed, shaped, and placed.  It’s all going to be there, from the homes to the ferries and the markets, fisheries, and docks.  Too there are the nearby woodlands and pastures, as well as the structures nearer the waterfront.

This is one of the initiatives undertaken by the six heritage museums of Havre de Grace and the City to tell the story of what happened when the British raided the town during the War of 1812.  While modeling still needs to be done, the photos below shows you the handiwork by Mitch and this fine group of skilled hobbyist and craftsmen, as it comes along.

The excellent work by the team carefully creating and placing the miniatures is going to make a valued exhibit as people visit Havre de Grace to learn more about the War of 1812 in the months and years ahead.  It’s located at the Visitor Center in Havre de Grace, which is open M-F 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  The public is welcome to stop by to see the exhibit as it progresses.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Carolyn W. Colburn permalink
    January 31, 2012 4:22 am

    Looks wonderful! Will stop by the HdG Visitor’s Center to get a really good look. Congrats to all the modelers for the excellent work they are doing.

  2. Charlie Vasilakis permalink
    February 1, 2012 12:05 am

    What a terrific piece of work by a small group of dedicated modelers. This is a must see exhibit.

  3. February 3, 2012 3:28 am

    Carolyn & Charlie, at a talk at Harford Community College last night the model was well received by a large audience. It was really helpful in terms of visually illustrating Havre de Grace on that tranquil Sunday in the Spring of 1813. And the model was well received the audience as they expressed interrest, asking where they should go to see it. In fact afterwards some people come up to ask for more info about it. Fine work there on the part of those modelers.


  1. The Cry of the British Are Coming Disrupts the Payment of Taxes in Charlestown in 1813 | Window on Cecil County's Past

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