In the late 1850s, Charles Benedict Calvert, descendant of the Lords Baltimore, founded the first agricultural research college in Prince George’s County.
Charles Calvert was raised in Riverdale Park on the property known as the Riversdale Plantation. His interest in science and belief in agricultural education led him to study agricultural pursuits and stock breeding at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. He received a certificate of completion in 1827.
In the years after he completed his studies, he served in the Maryland House of Delegates and became president of the Prince George’s County Agricultural Society, the Maryland State Agricultural Society, and was one of the early advocates for the establishment of the United States Department of Agriculture.
His property in Riverdale later became the location of the first Maryland Agricultural College (MAC). For a purchase price of $20,000, 428 acres were selected as the site for the MAC in 1858 and formally dedicated in October of 1859. Thirty-four students enroll; among them are four of Charles Calvert’s sons.
The Maryland Agricultural College is presently known as the University of Maryland at College Park.