By Donnie Hammett|
The most recent addition to the facilities and services at Greenwell State Park is the Francis Knott Retreat Lodge, designed and constructed with the special needs of guests with physical and mental disabilities in mind. Greenwell State Park is located in Hollywood, in Saint Mary's County.
The completion of the Francis Knott Retreat Lodge fulfills one more part of its benefactors vision. In the early 1970s John Philip Greenwell, Jr. and his sister Mary Wallace Greenwell donated their farm to the state with the condition that a park be developed that would be accessible to visitors having physical and mental disabilities. After the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in the 1980s, which required the state to develop all parks to the accessibility levels of the Greenwells' vision, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) raised the accessibility bar for Greenwell even higher than its benefactors had envisioned.
The Lodge was named after James Francis Knott, who started working for the Greenwells in the 1950s as their farm manager. After the farm was donated to the state, Francis Knott was hired by DNR to continue managing the farm and park. Knott died of cancer in 1990 while still serving as the Greenwell State Park Manager.
Though totally accessible, the majority of the lodge guests do not have any disabilities. The majority of the groups using the facility do so because they are using other park facilities for events such as weddings, family reunions, organizational retreats and workshops. However, it is anticipated that a larger clientele with the special needs the lodge accommodates will start to utilize the facility. This increase in interest should occur as additional facilities and programs are developed in the park that meet the special needs of visitors with disabilities.
After donating their farm to the State, the Greenwells created a foundation to assist DNR with respect to the department's duties and obligations to manage and operate Greenwell State Park. It is the Greenwell Foundation that manages and operates the Francis Knott Retreat lodge. Reservations and further information can be acquired by contacting the Greenwell Foundation at: 301-373-9775.