Since 1986, Americans have been celebrating the life, work, and impact of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a federal holiday. More recently, it’s become more than a day off, but a day on — the National MLK Day of Service.
The Phillips Packing Company began in Cambridge, Maryland in 1902 with a single plant and went on to become the largest employer in Dorchester County and one of the most recognized names in seafood. As the company expanded, so did its legacy on the Eastern Shore through both buildings and stories. A former Six-to-Fix program project, Preservation Maryland supported the effort to revitalize the Packing Company by identifying funding to support the critical repair of the iconic smokestacks and increasing public awareness of this important preservation project on Maryland’s eastern shore.
Our Vice President Katie Parks is featured in this Maryland Public Television (MPT) special that tells the story of Cambridge, Maryland – “from boomtown that went bust to a modern hub for innovation poised to revitalize the landscape and economic future of the region.”
Diane and Jeff Caslow at the Queen Anne County Courthouse, 2018.
Journey Through Maryland History: History Quest through Queen Anne’s County
07/29/2018 By Preservation Maryland
One their two-year journey to visit all of Maryland’s twenty-four counties, the Caslows took a June roadtrip to Queen Anne’s County, in their lastest installment documenting Maryland history through heritage, cultural, and culinary heritage.
FROM THE TRAVELOGUE
County number twenty one was Queen Anne’s County on our twenty-four month adventure to explore each of the counties and Baltimore City in Maryland. “The first settlement in Maryland was on Kent Island in August 1631, referred to as Winston’s Island. Although the county has a number of properties on the National Register of Historic Places, the original settlement no longer exists. One of the oldest towns still existing is Stevensville, earlier known as Broad Creek.” So we started our daytrip there…
We start with a walking tour of the town, published by the Kent Island Heritage Society. The town owes its development to the steamboat trade between the eastern and western shores of Maryland, along with the rise of the railroad. Many of the historic structures on the walking tour have been adapted for new uses.
In keeping with our required starting point, we stop at Peace of Cake, originally the Charles Stevens Store built in 1865, for coffee and an excess of baked goods for the day’s trip. We end up at the Kent Island Federation of Arts, discussing the artist community with the owner of My Little Studio, and purchase some gifts for future use. She reminds us that there is more to Queen Anne’s county than driving Route 50 through it to the beach, and we agree!
Queenstown, Wye Hall and Wye Mill and Sudlersville
Crisscrossing Route 50 and getting off the main highway gives you a better sense of the county and the rich history that is alive here. Although Queenstown is probably best known now for outlet shopping, but take the road to the small town and discover the oldest Colonial era courthouse in continual use, dating from 1708.
We drive south to Wye Island, looking for Wye Hall. It is a Georgian Revival house, built in 1936, built on the site of the William Paca plantation mansion that burned down in 1879. William Paca is buried in the family cemetery there, and as it is a private residence, we just do a drive by photo and admire the serene beauty of Wye Island.
We head north to the Wye Mill, which is in Talbot County, but actually half of the mill is in Queen Anne’s County. We get an amazing history lesson from a dedicated volunteer, watch the miller at work, and take away some freshly milled cornmeal and recipes for future use.
We head to the northern most town in the county, Sudlersville and explore a restored train depot in its current use as the Sudlersville Train Station Museum. The railroad history of the area comes alive through the small museum collection. Nearby at Dudley’s Chapel, we are greeted by knowledgeable volunteers and great storytellers of the past history and life in the area. Dudley’s Chapel, built in 1783, is one of the earliest Methodist churches in Maryland.
We first stop to check out the Church Hill Theatre, which received the Preservation Maryland a Best of Maryland award this year. It is a 1929 vernacular Art Deco building adapted for a new use as a community performing arts center. Nearby is St. Luke Espiscopal Church, built in 1732 at the cost of 140,000 pound of tobacco. It is the oldest intact brick church in the state. It is easy to admire something that has withstood the test of time.
In 1782 the county seat moved from Queenstown to Centreville and boasts a lovely statue of Queen Anne in front of the county courthouse. It is the only known statue of Queen Anne outside of England. The courthouse was built between 1792 and 1794 and it is the oldest continually used courthouse in Maryland. Apparently there are records in the courthouse that date back to 1706.
Diane and Jeff Caslow at the Queen Anne’s County Courthouse, 2018.
We take a walking tour of the beautiful Victorian homes and tucked in between are some of the oldest homes, including the James Croney House and Tucker House, both built in 1794. There is Wright’s Chance, dating to 1744 which was moved to its current location in 1964 due to some preservation-minded citizens.
We discovered a treasure trove of a museum collection and engaging storytellers at the Kirwan House. It was the home of Maryland State Senator James E. Kirwan (1900-1908), along with the adjacent store built in 1889.
The volunteers told some pretty amazing stories, showed us some artifacts of what they are still finding in the area, and a sense of what life was like in this part of the county. It could have looked very different today as Senator Kirwan blocked a proposed proving ground, resulting in the Aberdeen, Maryland location instead. How different the county might have looked…
No day trip is complete without at least trying to find a brewery, winery or distillery. Along with a tour and tasting, we met one of the co-owners. He shares an interest in preservation, rehabbing a building and moving the distillery and opening a restaurant this fall in Stevensville. We cannot wait to come back and taste the new spirits in development.