2.8 The Design and Details of the Main Attraction

➢  This plan calls for the entire Depot (the decked area and the pavilion), to be completely demolished. 

Construct an entirely new building, the ‘Chesapeake Discovery & Adventure Center’ (CA&DC), which will be approximately 100’ in width x 225’ in length x 36’ in height, basically retaining the same footprint of the Depot.

Draft of the CA&DC.

➢  The first floor will have approximately 18,000 square feet of space open to visitors.  The first floor exterior walls are angled inwards at the top, the second floor exterior walls are vertical.

The second floor has approximately 16,000 square foot open to visitors.  There is a 33’ wide x 80’ long open area that will serve as a balcony overlooking the first floor.  

➢  The third floor is an open deck totaling approximately 22,000 square feet with a replica of the Somers Cove Lighthouse located top-front of the structure.  Underneath the lighthouse is the Concert/Event Stage.

Picture of the Somers Cove Lighthouse.
View, facing north, of the Depot, picture taken from Jersey Island.  Sept. 2019
Computer Generated Image of the CA&DC.
– A replica of Somers Cove Lighthouse is on the 3rd floor deck. – 
– The grey is the area consisting of concrete.  –
– The blue areas are windows.  –
On the left, which is the rear of the building, is closed on the sides and covered at the top by the 3rd Floor Observation Deck.  Boats can enter for demos on the open side at the rear, and spectators can watch from 3 sides on the 1st & 2nd floors.  –
– At the bottom there are black and grey areas, the grey depicts the pilings going into the water, the black areas are the shade under the structure. –

Top photo with the computer generated image of the CA&DC image laid on top.

Structure Detail of the CA&DC:

1. Pilings:  The design of the support system is very similar to that of a highway bridge which allows for the structure to withstand the same conditions as a bridge built over water.  

2. & 3.: Pile-cap (2), and girder (3).  

4., 5 & 6.: First floor exterior wall (4).  Second floor (5).  Second floor exterior walls.  The exterior walls are designed using a combination of concrete, glass and typical exterior sheathing material – possibly similar to the newly constructed school in Westover, MD.  The 2nd floor to the 3rd floor support are designed similar to a hotel or a condo building using concrete column and beam structure, precast concrete decking (stresscon).

7. Third floor Observation Deck.

8. Replica of Somers Cove Lighthouse.

9. Girder supporting weight-load of Lighthouse.

10. Height and location of second floor balcony rail. 

11. Location, approximate width and height of miniature 1877 Crisfield Exhibit.  

12. Six foot tall person added for context (scale is estimated).

13. First and second floor aquarium.


Below are initial drafts of the floor-plans, a summary of the details and other important information about the CA&DC.  

First Floor-Plan:

Details of First Floor Plan:

 As the visitors enter the CA&DC, they will experience a wide open space.  The first floor ceiling is 16’ high, with a 33’ wide area in the center of the 1st floor ceiling open to the 2nd floor, which has a balcony.  

The goal is to provide those entering a level of visuals and sounds that gives them an immediate, and very strong, sensory stimulus.

1. Concert/Event Stage:  Explained in above section.  Stage elevated 40” above floor. 

2. Storage:  Typical equipment, etc.

3. Main Entrance: 12’ wide, 4 risers, typical to code.

4. Handicap Entrance (ramp): 6’ wide, typical to code.

5. Exterior Stairs:  Emergency exits and after-hour access to 3rd Floor Observation Deck.   

6. Stairs: Typical steel construction.  Platform located middle-way between 1st & 2nd floors. 

7. Elevators:  Access to 1st, 2nd and 3rd floor observation deck. Typical to code.

8. Bathrooms: Typical to code.

9. Exhibits:  Various types that present previously addressed subjects.

10. Maritime Demos & Reenactments:  This area is enclosed on 3 sides and covered by the 3rd floor observation deck to protect against inclement weather.  Details about the uses for this area have been previously addressed.   

11. Loading/Spectator Area:  Visitors can purchase an extra ticket for a historic/eco nautical cruise (private charter boats will be used).  Additionally, working watermen should be encouraged to obtain their captain’s license so they can take groups of 6 on a short tour where they can fish a crab-pot, see a patent tong operate, etc.  This area will allow passengers to board these vessels in a safe and dry environment.  

This area, as well as the 2nd floor balcony above it, will serve as a spectator area for water based demonstrations.

12. Exhibits:  Various types that present previously addressed subjects.

13. Scaled Model of 1877 Crisfield w/ Train, Sailing Vessels, Etc.:  Explained in previous section.

14. Aquarium:  Explained in previous section.  

15. Staff Entrance/Exit & Emergency Exit: Typical to code.

16. Gift Shop: Even though merchandise is a large source of revenue for most historic destinations, the purpose of the CA&DC is to launch and stimulate the local economy.  Considering this, the gift shop should only offer items that are not offered by private businesses.  The gift shop can also sell concessions during indoor movies and events.

17. Mechanical Room:  Electric panel, heating/air conditioning, etc.  Aquarium equipment.  Mechanical rooms on 1st and 2nd floors.  Typical per code.

2nd Floor Plan:

Details of Second Floor Plan:

The 2nd floor has a balcony design, with a 33’ wide by 80’ long opening in the center (tan section).  

This will provide an openness, and allow for additional seating during inside events around the balcony’s perimeter.  Another reason for this area to be open is for an equipment lift, which will be explained in the following subsection.

All other details of 2nd floor are similar to 1st floor.    

3rd Floor Plan:

Details of Third Floor Plan:

The 3rd floor is an open deck that can be used for reenactments, various exhibits and other activities typical to the CA&DC.  Coin operated binoculars/telescopes are likely to be very popular, as would visitors coming to watch sunsets along with serving as a spectator area for events like the Boatdocking Contest.

18. Equipment Room:  The equipment rooms on each floor are built directly over the one below it.  This will house electrical panels, a generator (which will be needed for the aquarium pumps), HVAC units will the be located on the roof, along with the room having multiple other uses.

19. Replica of Somers’ Cove Lighthouse:  The lighthouse will serve numerous purposes, including propagating the importance of lighthouses in the 19th century and the adventures they played parts in.  An equally important attribute is the visual enhancement.  When visitors are approaching downtown the lighthouse will be the focal-point. 

20. Equipment Lift Room:  This room will house a mechanical winch that lifts a platform that can be loaded with equipment, exhibits, decorations, etc.  The design calls for a trolley system to be installed to lift heavy items to the 2nd and 3rd floor. 

21. General Storage Room: Typical use, include vent pipes for bathrooms.

22. Reenactment Area:  A replica of a gunning skiff with cannon could be displayed, and with an attendant present, visitors can sit – or lie down like the hunters did – and have their pictures taken.  Additionally, and the reason for the gunning skiff to be located outside, is that the cannon can be fired of at specific periods each day.  During inclement weather the gunning skiff can be stored in the Equipment Lift Room. 

23. Coin Operated Binoculars:  Visitors will be able to view wildlife, watermen crabbing and oystering in the Tangier Sound, and zoom-in and watch the pristine environment.  This would be an excellent activity while generating revenue for the CA&DC.

Costs & Funding:
Any estimate given on my part at this time would be based on pure speculation.  To even provide a ballpark figure would require more time than I can volunteer.  However, no matter the price-tag, it will cost a lot more if a means to facilitate traffic (major attraction), is not implemented.  There has to be a driver to jumpstart the economy which will attract investors and resulting business growth.

Before time is spent on estimating and acquiring costs, it must be determined if there are any restrictions that could prevent the construction of the CA&DC. Next, it should be ascertained if the community supports the project – and the changes to the entire city that will result.

One detail about funding that I do feel is important to address at this time, is that the CA&DC is intended to not only be a catalyst for Crisfield’s economic revitalization, but that of lower Somerset County as a whole. This concept is further addressed below.

➢  The Tangier Quadrant – The CA&DC – and the entire concept of Crisfield’s revitalization – should be pitched as an economic generator for what I identify as the ‘Tangier Quadrant.’  This would consist of four places on the Tangier Sound; Deal Island, Smith Island, Tangier and Crisfield.  No, Tangier Island is not in Maryland, but passenger boats for the island depart from Crisfield.  

With the establishment of the CA&DC, Crisfield would again be a hub for traffic as it was when the railroad was present, and the residual affect would benefit these other areas as well.  Kayaking, fishing, wildfowl hunting traffic would increase on the islands, as would skipjack tours from Deal Island along with many other activities and services.  

The ‘Tangier Quadrant.’


➢  Operations & Management:  There are numerous possibilities to who could manage the CA&DC, and what the responsibilities of operating a facility of this type will be.  

No matter who manages the CA&DC, the city government should create a ‘department of tourism,’ just as the vast majority of other tourist cities have.   

There will need to be an executive director for the department of tourism position created within Crisfield’s Municipal Government (CMG), who will manage all aspects of the CTI.  Their duties will include, but not limited to, coordinating the fulfillment of responsibilities of the city, county and state, supervise the executives of all tourism related duties; such as the CA&DC, marketing, sales, etc.    

The CA&DC will also need an executive director, who will oversee the aquarium manager, digital exhibit manager, traditional exhibit manager, concert/event manager, maintenance manager, etc.

I have much more information on this that’s not included in this report, and this section alone requires a report be produced for itself.  This is of critical importance because it’s easy to throw out ideas, acquire the costs of construction/implementation, but if the operation costs exceed the generated revenue, it will ultimately fail.

From the research and estimating that I’ve conducted, the CTI and CA&DC will be profitable.  However, there are many figures that can’t be obtained until the process is underway.

Again, I have much more information on this that is not included in this report. 


➢ Revenue:  As previously stated, the purpose of the CA&DC is to facilitate traffic which will create a new industry in Crisfield, so if the CA&DC achieves this – and financially breaks even – it will be an extraordinary success.

There are grants, donations and other non-commercial types of funding, merchandise sales, nautical tour sales, concert/event ticket sales, but the only aspect that can be even remotely estimated at this stage in the process, is ticket sales for admission to the CA&DC.

A typical ticket charge for an attraction of this type is $20-$25 per person.  For comparison purposes only, I’ll use $15 for the cost of a group rate ticket.  At that rate, the numbers are as follows:   

500 visitors per day @ $15 per ticket = $7,500 per Day  

(group rate $15 – walkup visitors $20)

340 operation days = $2,550,000 per Year  (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, Maintenance & Weather-Related Closings)  

NOTE: This does not include income from concerts/events, merchandise sales and other supplemental revenue.