The Laurel History Boys, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization utilizing archival preservation, photography, oral history, publications, and presentations to convey the historical experiences of Laurel, Maryland. Its founders are Richard Friend, Kevin Leonard, and Pete Lewnes—three Laurel, Maryland natives who, in their own distinctive ways, enjoy preserving and documenting the history of their hometown.
Founded in 2015, the group became a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 2019. The Laurel History Boys received a Maryland Governor’s Citation for their work producing the book, Laurel at 150, in time for the City of Laurel’s Sesquicentennial. The organization was also selected for a 2020 Maryland Historical Trust Preservation Award.
Richard Friend is a graphic designer and the creator of Lost Laurel, curating both the website and Facebook page that has over 6,500 followers. He also published a book of the same name, which received a 2015 Prince George’s County Historical Society St. George’s Day Award—given annually to honor living individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the preservation of the County’s heritage. Rich served on the Laurel Historical Society Board of Directors and Executive Committee, and donated design work for five consecutive annual exhibits and other programs at the Laurel Museum. He also produced a Lost Laurel TV show for Laurel TV, which illustrates a number of themes. All of the episodes can be viewed here. In 2019, he designed and published Postmark Laurel—a 280-page collection of historic picture postcards ranging from the early 1900s to the 1990s.
Kevin Leonard, historian and writer of the popular “History Matters” column in the Laurel Leader, is a 1972 graduate of Laurel High School. His column explores long-forgotten events and people from Laurel’s rich history. He is a two-time winner of the Maryland Delaware District of Columbia Journalism Award. His company, The Leonard Group, Inc., provides historical research services to book authors, documentary filmmakers, and television productions. Kevin can count a Pulitzer Prize winner (Caroline Fraser, Prairie Fires) and an Academy Award winner (Charles Ferguson, Inside Job) among his clients. Kevin’s first foray into screenwriting, a biopic about WWI hero Eddie Rickenbacker, won Clint Eastwood’s Monterey County Film Commission’s Screenwriting Competition and was subsequently optioned for production. Kevin has also served on the Laurel Historical Society Board of Directors.
Pete Lewnes is the preeminent collector of Laurel historical memorabilia, and along with his wife, Martha, has amassed over 10,000 pieces in a collection that covers early business and industry, politics, vintage retail, and anything else that pertains to Laurel. A longtime contributor to the Laurel Museum, he has an unrivaled drive to learn as much as possible about Laurel’s people and places past, and deftly finds hidden historical treasures that he enjoys sharing with the public.
The Laurel History Boys was Kevin’s brainchild, and a project that combines the best of each member’s efforts. Here you’ll find extensive research and photos that didn’t make it into Kevin’s “History Matters” columns; Rich will take you beyond Lost Laurel, exploring additional themes like historic crimes and disasters; and Pete will share unique items from his collection, including vintage photos that you may be able to help identify.
It’s an evolving endeavor that will utilize photos, stories, video, interviews, and more—with the hope that anyone with an interest in Laurel’s history will enjoy.