The Evergreen Heritage Center is recognized by the Maryland Historical Trust (1976) and listed on the National Register of Historic Place (2015). The historical significance of the property is its role in and contribution to the successful settlement of western Allegany County beginning in the late 1700s when it was part of Washington County and still designated on maps as former Shawnee land. At that time, Flintstone, in the eastern part of the County, was home to the majority of the County’s early settlers, and Cumberland was in its infancy with fewer than 35 families.
The first settler on what would become known as Federal Hill/Evergreen (and later the Evergreen Heritage Center) was Edward Grimes, who came west from Frederick in 1783. Grimes and his family built the original house and barn. Grimes, a Lieutenant in the Revolutionary War, was a prominent farmer and businessman. In 1794, Grimes, as one of the County’s first commissioners, was appointed to build what would become Route 36 from Cumberland to Mount Savage. Grimes’ son-in-law Michael Oswalt, who had migrated south from Pennsylvania, was also an early County commissioner and owned one of the area’s first saw mills. Oswalt inherited and briefly owned the property before selling it to William Ridgeley in 1819.
Ridgeley, whose family had migrated from the Eastern Shore, built a second house on the property, on the other side of Federal Hill overlooking the growing town of Mount Savage. Ridgeley owned ten slaves.
As one of the first elected County Commissioners, he filed the first layout of the town of Frostburg, and fostered the partnership between the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal that would significantly expand transportation to the region. Since he did not reside in the original Grimes house, Ridgeley sold that section of Federal Hill to George Winter in 1822.
Winter had also migrated west from Frederick and owned one of the area’s first woolen mills as well as an inn on what became the National Road. Winter expanded the Grimes house to create a large plantation manor. After Winter’s death in 1826, his son George Winter Jr. continued to live at the manor and also served as a County Commissioner. After the Civil War, the Winter family sold the land in 1869 to their neighbors, the Trimble family.
The Trimbles had migrated north from the Shenandoah Valley in the late 1700s and had settled on Federal Hill near Edward Grimes. Their acquisition of the Winter property created one of the area’s largest farms, encompassing over 1100 acres on Federal Hill, including what is now the Evergreen Heritage Center. The Trimbles remodeled the Winters’ house to create a large Victorian mansion. They also continued the Hill’s history of farming, and participated in the region’s booming coal industry.
In 2008, Evergreen’s owners created the Evergreen Heritage Center Foundation to share the private property with the Western Maryland community. Visitors may, by appointment, tour the Evergreen Mansion (now a museum) and Evergreen Barn with its original stone foundation, hand-hewn chestnut beams, and plantation-era farming implements.
Visitors may hike the Evergreen Coal Trail, which follows the tramway used to haul coal from the deep mines to the railroad in the early 1900s, includes: three abandoned coal mine openings, a bank of waste slate, the ruins of the blacksmith’s forge, the miners’ mule stable, the water tower and shed, a hand-dug water well, and the site of a bull wheel to lower coal cars down an incline plane.