Historical Easton Maryland

Maryland, Easton Guide (A): Historical Easton Maryland

This quaint town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore began in 1709. The arrival of the railroad in 1869 ushered in wealth, stately homes, & thriving businesses. Rich Northeasterners established second homes in Easton, which welcomed them with first-class amenities. Easton today offers culture, shopping, fine dining, and elegant B&Bs amidst charming homes and businesses showcasing history & architecture.
This article is featured in the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" on iTunes App Store and Google Play. You can download the app to your mobile device to read the article offline and create a self-guided walking tour to visit the attractions featured in this article. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and it works offline so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

Download The GPSmyCity App

Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for IOS   Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for Android

Walk Route

Guide Name: Historical Easton Maryland
Guide Location: USA » Easton
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (A))
# of Attractions: 16
Tour Duration: 2.0 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 km
Sight(s) featured in this guide: Talbot County Courthouse   Thomas Perrin Smith House   Magazine Alley   Shannahan & Wrightson Hardware Building   Historical Society of Talbot County   Avalon Theatre   Hotel Site - Tidewater Inn   Wrightson House - Inn at 202 Dover   Bullitt House   First Fire Company   1786 Survey Marker   Easton Armory   Academy Art Museum   Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church   Christ Church   Third Haven Meeting House  
Author: Annie Tobey
Author Bio: Annie Tobey is the Active Woman Traveler who makes her home in Richmond, Virginia and enjoys exploring beyond the boundaries. She has been a professional writer and editor for over twenty years, with a special passion for travel writing and a thirst for knowledge.
Author Website: http://www.activewomantraveler.com
Talbot County Courthouse

1) Talbot County Courthouse

The original courthouse, in what was once considered the “East Capital” of Maryland, was built in 1711 and replaced in 1794 by a larger, Federally designed building, which inspired landowners on Washington Street to build in a similar style. The courthouse has been expanded to meet the county’s growing needs.

At the courthouse in November 1765, Talbot County locals and the court protested the British Stamp Act; nine years later, the county issued a statement in support of Boston’s...
Thomas Perrin Smith House

2) Thomas Perrin Smith House

Just a stone’s throw from the activity at the courthouse, the Thomas Perrin Smith House was built in 1803. It is named for the editor of the town’s first newspaper, the Republican Star, founded in 1800. The paper later became the Star-Democrat. In these buildings, Perrin Smith also ran the post office, a used bookstore, and a printing office.

In 1912, the Chesapeake Bay Yacht Club restored the building and continues to occupy it. The Federal-style building has Adamesque sunbursts and...
Magazine Alley

3) Magazine Alley

This four-foot-wide alley is perhaps one of Maryland’s narrowest named streets. It was used by the local militia during the Revolutionary War as a link between the courthouse and an armory that housed gunpowder. The brick-and-stone armory is no longer standing, so the alley is simply a shortcut for in-the-know...
Shannahan & Wrightson Hardware Building

4) Shannahan & Wrightson Hardware Building

This building, the oldest store in Easton, has history marked upon its face. Built in 1791 by Owen Kennard, the building changed hands many times and grew upwards. The owners with the greatest longevity were Charles T. Wrightson and William E. Shannahan, who bought it for $6,000 in 1877. For 88 years, it was the Shannahan & Wrightson Hardware Company. Dates on the right side of the store’s face show these owners’ additions: 1877, 1881, and 1889. The present front was completed for a...
Historical Society of Talbot County

5) Historical Society of Talbot County

The Historical Society of Talbot County’s campus includes the museum, three historic homes, an auditorium, gift shop, and Tharpe Antiques Shop. One historic home is a 1795 cottage, home of Quaker cabinetmaker Joseph Neall. Another is the home of Joseph’s brother, also a cabinetmaker, and his family. This is the 1810 Federal-era James Neall House, with authentic Federal furnishings. The third historic house was the studio of noted architect H. Chandlee Forman. The museum’s auditorium is...
Avalon Theatre

6) Avalon Theatre

One of the first “state-of-the-art” movie houses on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, the Avalon Theatre remains mostly unchanged since construction in 1921. It was built during the heyday of vaudeville and silent films, and was the scene of three world premiers, including The First Kiss in 1928, featuring Gary Cooper and Fay Wray.

Though the building has gone through two major restorations, it still exemplifies an early 20th century movie theater. The first renovation was in 1936, when it was...
Hotel Site - Tidewater Inn

7) Hotel Site - Tidewater Inn

A hotel has been on this site since 1891. A busy community like Easton, with commerce as well as court activities, needed places for visitors to stay. By the late 19th century, two large hotels began competing with the existing taverns and smaller hotels. In 1891, at the corner of Harrison and Dover, a frame hotel was erected, operating for many years as the Avon Hotel. It was destroyed by fire in 1944, and building of a new hotel began in 1947: the Tidewater Inn. Postwar shortages of steel and...
Wrightson House - Inn at 202 Dover

8) Wrightson House - Inn at 202 Dover

This home was known for many years as the Wrightson House after its owner, Charles T. Wrightson, of the Shannahan & Wrightson Hardware Building on Washington Street across from the courthouse, and of S. & W. canned foods. Built in 1874, this Victorian-era mansion is one of the few in Easton that shows the influence of Beaux Arts Classicism on domestic buildings, with a wide front porch and nine elaborate dormers protruding from a hipped roof. The house also reflects Gothic, Colonial...
Bullitt House

9) Bullitt House

One of Easton’s oldest and most elegant homes, the Bullitt House was built in 1801. It is a fine example of Federal period architecture and demonstrates outstanding craftsmanship in its brickwork and woodwork.

Thomas James Bullitt- a lawyer, president of Easton National Bank, and prominent resident of the Town of Easton, built the three-story house for his growing family in 1801. In ensuing years, he added a small white structure on the side of the house for his law office, a brick smoke...
First Fire Company

10) First Fire Company

“February 28, 1808 - About 3 a.m. on this Sunday morning the cry of ‘Fire!!’ was heard. The tailor shop, on Washington Street north of Federal Street, had flames showing out the building.”

Thus begins a report from the Easton Volunteer Fire Department. That night, the fire spread and consumed a tavern, saddlery shop, a store, and a home. Although all occupants escaped unharmed, the fire wasn’t contained quickly because citizens hadn’t brought their buckets and had to return home...
1786 Survey Marker

11) 1786 Survey Marker

Seventy-five years after the establishment of the Talbot County courthouse here, the Maryland legislature decided that the growing settlement should be laid out as a town, to “Lay it Out in the Best and most convenient manner into lots not exceeding one-half acre each.” A panel of five commissioners oversaw the work of laying out the town’s streets, alleys, and lots as well as naming the streets. Washington Street was named after George Washington; Dover after a neighboring town;...
Easton Armory

12) Easton Armory

This imposing stone building is reminiscent of a medieval castle, with towers flanking the arched entrance. It was built in 1929 for the MD National Guard and served as their armory till 1976. In 1997, the building became home of the Waterfowl Festival, a nonprofit “dedicated to wildlife conservation, the promotion of wildlife art, and the celebration of life on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.” The group installed the large bronze goose sculpture in front of the building, created by...
Academy Art Museum

13) Academy Art Museum

This building’s birth as an 1820s schoolhouse is apparent in the belfry and the quill weather vane atop the left portion of the Academy Art Museum. The right portion was built in 1866 as the first Talbot County public high school.

The two buildings have since been joined to create 24,000 square feet of five galleries, art and dance studios, conference rooms, library, and atrium. The Academy Art Museum, accredited by the American Association of Museums, is nationally recognized for its...
Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church

14) Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church

The Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church has played an important role in the religious lives of black Eastonians since 1818, when it was established. The modest brick building is typical of mid-to-late nineteenth century ecclesiastical buildings, with allusions to Gothic revival in pointed arch windows and corner buttresses.

One slave who was born in Talbot County in 1818, ran away in 1838. He changed his name to Frederick Douglass and became one of the nation’s greatest advocates for...
Christ Church

15) Christ Church

St. Peter’s Parish was founded in 1692, and Christ Church is the fifth place of worship for its people. The original building was built circa 1840 of Port Deposit granite reflecting the revival of English Gothic architecture in the nineteenth century, using the architectural plan of William Strickland from a church erected soon before in Salem, New Jersey. The original structure consisted of the nave, the tower with steeple, and tripartite doors with a straight lintel. Pinnacles on the corners...
Third Haven Meeting House

16) Third Haven Meeting House

This Quaker meeting house, built circa 1684, is the oldest building in Talbot County, one of the oldest frame houses of worship in the United States, and the oldest religious building in the nation in continuous use.

Many of Talbot’s early settlers were Quakers, seeking a haven from religious persecution. Built at the headwaters of the Tred Avon, it could receive Friends travelling by water or land for the monthly all-day meetings. One of the builders of the meeting house was William...