The Crisfield Heritage Foundation
The Crisfield Heritage Foundation started in 1977 as The J. Millard Tawes Foundation. The museum occupied a storefront on Main Street. The museum was moved to the new location at the marina in 1983, continuing to operate within the narrow scope of its mission to preserve the memory of Governor Tawes. After a revitalization plan was adopted in the mid 1990's, the focus of the museum began to change. A once in a lifetime opportunity presented itself in 1996 when the childhood home of the governor was placed on the real estate market. Accordingly, the foundation's Board of Directors decided to purchase the home.
Another opportunity arose in 1998 when the foundation acquired the Ward Brothers workshop from the organization known as the Ward Brothers Homeplace, Inc. This organization had restored the workshop of the Ward Brothers but did not wish to operate the shop. Consequently they gave the shop to the foundation.
In 1999, the foundation also acquired 300 acres of marsh that had been the former Jenkins Creek Environmental Research Center. The foundation changed the name of the area to the Cedar Island Marsh Sanctuary with plans to design programs to utilize the marsh as an educational exhibit of the foundation.
With these acquisitions, the Board of Directors of the foundation realized that it had become a heritage organization for the entire area. The foundation did not primarily revolve around the former governor as originally planned. It had grown into an institution whose focus had changed to include the entire Crisfield area and its multifaceted culture. Therefore, the Board of Directors decided to change the name of the foundation to the Crisfield Heritage Foundation. This was made official on April 7, 1999.