Joppa is on the National Register of Historic Places and the image below is a Historic marker for the Colonial town of Joppa.
Below is an artists rendition of what Joppa might have looked like during its heyday in the early 1700's.
The history of this parish is closely entwined with the history of Joppa itself.
The church was one of thirteen in the "Province of Maryland" established in 1692 by Parliament under the direction of William and Mary. It was originally known as Copley Parish, Gunpowder Hundred, named for Lionel Copley, the Royal Governor at the time. The term "hundred" referred to an area containing at least 100 families and capable of calling up one hundred men for military duty, and in the early 1700's, Gunpowder Hundred stretched from Middle River to the east side of the Bush River. Because of the difficulty in travelling such distances by horseback, "chapels of ease" were established within the parish boundaries. One of these was St. John's, which stood where the Officers Club at Edgewood Arsenal is now located.
This building only served for a short time, as the congregation was rapidly moving toward the town of Joppa, which was becoming a thriving seaport, exporting huge quantities of tobacco - up to 30,000 hogsheads a year by some estimates. The exact date the building at Elk Neck was abandoned and the new church built in Joppa is uncertain, but an act of the General Assembly in 1724 made provision for one acre of land to be set aside for St. John's Church.
No matter when it was erected, it apparently was not very well made, for the Vestry minutes are liberally sprinkled with notations that this person or that had been hired to reset brick, build supports to hold up the walls, and so forth. If all of Joppa was as well constructed, it is no wonder that by 1814, the town was abandoned and nothing left but the church, in a state of decay, and four houses.
During its heyday, Joppa was the largest city in the area, with a population of about 300 people. Tobacco plantations surrounded its mile-wide deepwater port, and legislation made 90 pounds of tobacco paid in taxes at Joppa worth 100 pounds elsewhere. There was a considerable trade with Europe and the West Indies. St. John's parish boasted a Communion set given by Queen Anne in 1714. As the county seat, it was the site of court hearings, hangings, elections, cock fights and horse races. All in all, it was quite a place, equal in importance to St. Mary's City or Williamsburg.
Although there were no Revolutionary War battles fought in Maryland, over 200 British war ships sailed past Joppa in August of 1777 on their way to Elkton, where they disembarked to fight in the Battle of Brandywine. Several years later, Lafayette and his troops camped overnight at Foster's Branch en route to Yorktown.
But Joppa's days were numbered. The harbor was silting up, (See photo below) making navigation impossible, and the town of Baltimore was growing in size and importance. When the County Seat was moved to Baltimore, Joppa's days in the sun were over, and it slid into the backwaters of history. St. John's Parish was re-established in Kingsville, on property donated by Edward Day. Most of the original tombstones were uprooted and taken to Kingsville, where they remain. The baptismal font and other furnishings were removed from the crumbling church in Joppa and used in the new building.
When Panitz and Company began to develop the new Joppatowne in 1961, it was discovered the Episcopal Diocese still owned the land once occupied by the church and graveyard. The Reverend Paul Dawson, rector of St. John's approached Mr. Panitz with the deed to the property and proposed building a new church, to be known as The Church of the Resurrection, on the site. Mr. Panitz was very enthusiastic about the project, and agreed to sell us two additional acres. On November 25, 1964, we took title to three acres, two of which we paid for. The third was a gift from Mr. Panitz! He also gave us permission to use a house on Foxwell Drive until such time as the new church was completed. The first building, now used as a Sunday School, was dedicated in 1970. The present sanctuary was completed in 1974.
On March 14, 1967, the old farmhouse that had been erected on the foundations of the original church was burned to begin clearing the grounds for the new construction. Note the McCollough tombstone in the foreground of the picture below. The existence of the old house made for difficult archaeology on the site due to mixing of contemporary items with Colonial Era artifacts.Photos by ROBERT CROOKS The view of the site today.
The foundation bricks from the original Church building on this site may be seen in this view of the preserved site.
The mouth of the Little Gunpowder River at Resurrection. The line of trees on the horizon are beyond Pulaski Highway, over a mile away. The harbor originally extended to that tree line. The photo was taken from the site of the harbor wall where ships the size of the Constellation would have moored.
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