This is a past tour--for information only
St. Mary's County
Saturday, May 21, 2022
10:00 A.M to 5:00 P.M.
St. Mary’s County lies on the peninsula bounded by the famous “Oyster Waters,” —of the Patuxent and Potomac Rivers and the Chesapeake Bay. The early settlers built on the shores and travelled by water. In like fashion, today’s tour features several waterfront homes and gardens in the Mechanicsville and Hollywood areas. George Calvert, First Lord Baltimore, petitioned King Charles I in the early 1600s for a land grant to establish a new colony where all religions could be practiced freely. George Calvert died before carrying out his settlement plans, and his son, Cecilius (Cecil) Calvert, Second Lord Baltimore, inherited his estate. In November 1633, Cecil sent his brother Leonard Calvert, along with 140 settlers and adventurers aboard the Ark and the Dove bound for Maryland. The two ships landed at St. Clement’s Island on March 25, 1634, marking the birth of the Maryland colony. The island was small, so after celebrating mass and giving thanks for their safe arrival, the settlers traveled further south on what is known today as the St. Mary’s River where they purchased from the Yaocomico Indians 30 miles of land, renaming it “St. Maries.” The Indians provided assistance while being established. St. Mary’s City became Maryland’s first capital and Leonard Calvert its first Governor. The capital was moved to Annapolis in 1694. In 1708, the legislature ordered that a town be laid out at Breton Bay and that the court of St. Mary’s be held there. First called Seymour Town, the name was changed in 1728 to Leonard Town, now Leonardtown. It remains the county seat.
Chairman: Beth Bonifant and Dawn Szot
Advertisements: Pam Herold. Flowers: Judy Moe and Genise Rondina. Hostesses: Susan Tyner and Kimberly Westcoat. Luncheon: Duffy Boyd and Joyce Savage. Photography: Beth Bonifant. Publicity: Beth Bonifant and Kathy Glockner. Road Marking: Jenni McDevitt. Script: Kathy Glockner. Treasurer: Carolyn Seibert.
Special Project Descriptions: Tour proceeds will benefit two historical restoration projects.
In 1954, sixty-eight years ago, Hurricane Hazel damaged All Faith Episcopal Church, destroying its Chancel window and its roof. The Parishioners were able to repair the damages, including the installation of the current stained glass Rose Window in the Chancel by its now-famous designer Rowan LeCompte, who also designed and installed stained glass windows in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. In addition, repairs were also made to the wooden interior at that time including a complete repainting and replastering of the main sanctuary. But time has taken a toll since the efforts in 1954, with plaster needing repairs, the Chancel altar area needing repainting, and other parts needing restoration. Worn to bare wood pews need repainting, as well as wainscoting to match the colonial green color that appears on the side wall trim. An attempt was made years ago to complete this project, but has stalled due to lack of funds. This 18th century Maryland National Register architectural masterpiece by noted architect Richard Boulton is in great need of this restoration work.
The second project is Unearthing Maryland’s Early Manors. As Maryland’s 400th anniversary approaches, St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) archaeologists and students hope to identify some of the earlier colonial settlements that lay beyond the bounds of St. Mary’s City but that have as yet not been identified, documented, and preserved. Most colonists lived on these plantations and yet only a handful have been located. The manor house sites of settler families including Thomas Cornwallis, Robert Slye, Marmaduke Snow, Thomas Notley, and many others as well as mission settlements associated with the Maryland Jesuits contain important clues about life in this early period. Funds received for this project will be used to pay student archaeologists (who will work under the direction of SMCM professional archaeologists) to undertake historical research, field and laboratory work, and analysis and interpretation.
1. All Faith Episcopal Church, Special Project: Tour proceeds will go to the All Faith restoration fund. All Faith Episcopal Parish and Church began in 1650 when land grant families and settlers arrived from England. These early Marylanders who resided along the Patuxent River included the Sothoron family of the Plains, the Truman family of Trent Neck (Trent Hall), the Brooke family of De La Brooke, and the Plater family of Sotterley. Rev. Robert Brooke of De La Brooke led worship services in the original All Faith log building in 1655. The original log church was rebuilt twice, in the 1690s and again in 1710. By 1766, the Vestry voted to build the present brick church of Georgian colonial design on the same wooden church sites. Noted architect Richard Boulton, who also designed portions of Sotterley and St. Andrew’s Church, designed and built this 18th century Maryland National Register architectural masterpiece. All Faith Church is significant as one of the best examples of preserved Georgian ecclesiastical design in Southern Maryland. In addition to its plastered barrel-vault ceiling, there is a remarkable series of fluted square columns with Ionic capitals. The tripartite Palladian front window piercing the gable above the central door and Rose Window in the Chancel are spectacular 20th Century additions. The window symbolizes the gifts of God and His bountiful creation. In the center is the dove of the Holy Spirit; in the petals of the rose the twelve crops which sustain farming and human life in the community. Leaves of each plant are shown together with its flower and fruit, all enclosed by a large star, suggesting the immensity of God’s universe. Installed after Hurricane Hazel in 1954, the Rowan LeCompte stained glass design is a now-famous addition. His work at the National Cathedral is documented in what became a PBS television special documentary film (easily accessed from the internet). It is a film by Peter Swanson on the art of stained glass and the work of Rowan LeCompte at the National Cathedral. It’s called Let There Be Light —a film that won Best of the Festival at the Washington, D.C. Independent Film Festival. The documentary will be available for viewing in the All Faith Parish Hall, where refreshments will also be available.
2. Trent Hall Located on the Patuxent River south of Trent Hall Creek; this land was a grant to Major Thomas Truman in 1654. Thomas, and brothers Nathaniel and James, held large portions of land extending to Upper Marlboro. Trent Hall was owned by the Truman, Greenfield, Briscoe, and Thomas families for many generations. More recently it was the home of former Maryland State Senator Paul Bailey and Vera Virts Bailey, and is currently owned by Dr. Henry and Nancy Virts. Dr. Virts is a former Maryland State Veterinarian, as well as Maryland’s Secretary of Agriculture. Thomas Truman was the first Commander of Maryland under Lord Baltimore, as well as a member of the Maryland Council in 1658. His counterpart in Virginia was John Washington, grandfather of George Washington. His family gravesite within the original land grant has vanished as well as the gravestones, recorded as among the oldest known in Maryland. Truman built the first manor house, Trent Neck, soon after arrival. Of wooden construction, Trent Neck Manor featured an enormous center chimney. It was still standing when John DeButts purchased the property in the 1780s. DeButts built the current Trent Hall manor house in 1789. It is of wooden construction, with a center hall entry and both front and rear porches. There are four fireplaces in the main dwelling. There is a large open hearth in the attached kitchen of early brick construction, likely to considerably predate the manor house. Ghosts have been observed in Trent Hall, particularly in the beautiful dining room where the chandelier has been seen moved by spirits. Situated directly on the Patuxent River, Trent Hall survived the British warships anchored in 1814 during the War of 1812. The home is considered by many as one of the jewels of colonial Maryland.
3. The Williams Residence. This house was built in 2010 and is located on Trent Hall Creek. The house was built by Mr. Williams, and designed by Mrs. Williams, and architect Lisa Davis Holmes. The tree-lined approach to the house is in full bloom in the spring with thousands of daffodil bulbs. The interior of the house features many Southern Maryland artists’ talents and a mix of traditional and antique furnishings within. The deep brick porches surround the front and two sides of the house with a fireplace and summer kitchen for outdoor living. White Chippendale railing made by Mr. Williams adorns the upper porch. The double front doors are flanked with gas lights. The views are spectacular from every window. The house welcomes guests from all approaches. The Williams most recently built an adjacent garage to compliment the house.
4. Delabrooke Manor Exterior grounds only. Xella winery will be offering tastings starting at noon, and a demonstration by the De La Brooke Foxhounds W Hunt club will begin at 1:30 p.m. On June 30, 1650, Robert Brooke with his family of ten, a household of 28, and a pack of foxhounds arrived by ship from England to settle his original grant of 2000 acres on the Patuxent River. Brooke was Commander of the newly created Charles County and Acting Governor of the Province in 1652. The 1658 patent as the 18th Manor in Maryland will be on view with transcription. The current structure, built in 1835 of brick made locally and parged with ground oyster shell, stands dramatically 25 feet from the river’s edge as a four-chimney landmark with the original blue Welsh slate roof. Delabrooke remained in the possession of direct Brooke descendants for eight generations over 277 years. In 1927, the house was sold to British diplomat Mr. Goodhart, and began an interesting chapter of Anglo-American history through World War II. He carefully documented the early history of the manor. It soon became a retreat for the British Embassy for duck hunting and entertaining. Diplomatic meetings took place during the onset of war. President Roosevelt visited twice in July 1939, when his advisor Secretary Hon. Harry Hopkins leased the house. Here also, the British Ambassador Lord Lothian wrote his final plea for American intervention just before his untimely death in 1941. The Lend-Lease Act passed in Congress shortly after his death. Delabrooke welcomed 23 refugee children from London to escape the bombings during the summer of 1941. Ivy now covers the house. On the façade, bronze plaques commemorate two major Tercentenary events at Delabrooke; the first, in 1934, honored the founding of Maryland, and the second, in 1950, celebrated 300 years since the landing of Brooke. Five Native Americans attended including Piscataway Chief Turkey Tayac and Princess Morning Star. Signed guest books chronical all events at Delabrooke since 1927, including 12 Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage Tours from 1936 to 1953. A long tree-lined lane leads to the manor house circle, framed by two stately iron gas lanterns from the first British Embassy gates, and a pair of perennial flower beds. A statue named “Pneumonia” stands in the center of the grass circle ringed by conch shells. A ship’s anchor rests on the lawn. Walk the 600-foot long pier constructed for President Roosevelt’s wheelchair visit in 1939. Stroll the grounds and brick path with sweeping river views. Specimen trees include English Horse Chestnuts descended from one planted by Robert Brooke, and English oaks which are the great-great-grandchildren of the historic tree under which Princess Elizabeth was sitting at Hatfield House when informed she was to become Queen. Also see mature native Catalpa Indian Bean, Mock Orange, Silver Maples, Tulip Poplars, Black Walnuts, Red Oaks, Chinese Elms, Crepe Myrtles, Chaste Lamb Vitex, a long salt-water pool in the field beside a grove of Loblolly pines, and a circular vegetable garden with oyster shell paths. Gardens include heritage irises and hydrangeas planted in 1934, a large azalea hedge from 1958, beds of stachys (Lamb’s Ear) with tree peonies and butterfly bushes, tulips in an oyster shell circle, and a moss lawn at the kitchen door. An abundant rosemary garden and old junipers thrive between the house and the riverbank. English boxwoods planted in the 1940s line the brick patio. Genealogy charts, lists of settlers and owners, historical documents with photographs and dendrochronology will be on display. The De La Brooke Foxhounds hunt club will give a demonstration at 1:30 p.m.
5. Birch Hanger Nestled in the heart of Mechanicsville is beautiful Birch Hanger Farm. Situated on 85 acres, the home was originally built in 1818 by Judge Mark Chunn as a suitable home for his new bride Annie Matilde Dent. In 1870 the home became a private school for boys and remained until becoming a tobacco farm in 1907. The current home, owned by Bill and Heather Schoenbauer, features many of the original rooms including a tack room that was turned into a family den. Two towering southern magnolias flank each side of the front of the house. Overlooking the double porch you can almost envision carriages pulling up to the circular drive while visitors come down the long brick walk way to the front door. A beautiful memory garden sits to the far right of the house with a tranquil bench for reflecting. The house features a new kitchen and main suite built in 2013, with all other rooms being original. Antique furniture pieces in most of the rooms reflect the owners’ love of furniture restoration. Four original fireplaces keep the home cozy during cooler weather. A short stroll down the dirt road leads to an original slave cabin, believed to have been built in the 1600s. A pool and pool house, barns, and a detached garage have been added to complete the farm.
6. Baldwin-Briscoe Home and Gardens Tobacco Barn Distillery will host a complimentary bourbon sampling from 2 to 5 p.m. at this site. See full details below. This Williamsburg style plan constructed in 1980 was modified on the water side to take advantage of spectacular, Patuxent River water views seen through a natural tree canopy. The charming dormered, clapboard house features brick ends, and foundation clad with handmade, oversized brick, in the Flemish Bond pattern. Recent exterior additions include working shutters, copper gutters and an expansion of the waterside deck. Interior improvements focused on the kitchen and the main bed and bath where imported tiles were selected for floors and walls. Family antiques, heirlooms and furniture accumulated from Baltimore, Budapest and Sotterley Plantation, the birthplace of Janice Briscoe’s grandfather, are scattered throughout the house. This property has remained in the Briscoe Family since the 1800s. For a period they also owned Sotterley. The “Harry Potter room” was inspired by the Red Room at Sotterley; the paneling and shelving were custom crafted with black walnut sourced from the near-by plantation following storms that felled the trees. More black walnut embellishes the copper ceiling with an ornate mosaic pattern copied from a World Heritage site the couple visited in Portugal. The main brick walkway is bordered by mature boxwood. Curving brick paths lead to a woodshed and toolshed. Stone steps descend to the riverbank. Other appointments include a chicken coop with an enclosed hen yard, a boathouse for kayaks and canoes and a waterfront goose blind. The property consists of 15 largely wooded acres and includes 4 significant landscape features: A pool and pool house located approximately 60 yards from the house is screened by mature trees and ornamental grasses creating a private oasis. The pool house was constructed using a combination of material which includes old posts and beams from their 19th century tobacco barn. Across the driveway, guests can enter an 11,000 sq. ft. live hedge maze through three strategically located arched gates. The design was duplicated from gates at Asticou Azalea Garden in Northeast Harbor, Maine. At the heart of the maze is a 2-story “folly” appointed with Sotterley style Chippendale railings and hand-painted floors. The first-floor design was inspired by tile flooring in the National Portrait Gallery; the second level image was reproduced from a botanical garden in St. Croix. From here, you look out over the koi pond traversed by a Japanese moon bridge, its transparent decking provides views of water and wildlife below. A 10-acre reclaimed field is now shaded by mature trees crisscrossed with numerous curving trails and an orchard in the open center. Be sure to bring your walking shoes to enjoy everything this property has to offer. Complete your tour of this site in the family’s restored 1850s tobacco barn customized for hosting frequent events and annual concerts. As a special treat Tobacco Barn Distillery will be in the barn with samplings of Maryland’s premier bourbon along with other whiskies and spirits from 2 to 5 p.m. Tobacco Barn Distillery is one of the nation’s few “Single Farm” Bourbon Distilleries and located just 5 miles from this site. Interested pilgrims can schedule a follow-on formal tasting reservation (40 to 45 mins, $15 fee) on their website: www.tobaccobarndistillery.com.
7. Anchored Roots Farm, Located on the banks of the Patuxent River, Anchored Roots is a working cut flower farm growing fresh cut flowers for CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) customers, local events and floral designers. Operating since 2017, Anchored Roots Farm has slowly transitioned from a commodity crop field to a diverse crop of perennial and annual flowers. The owners follow organic practices and have implemented several pollinator habitats on their property. Come enjoy the sights and sounds of the season on Anchored Roots Farm! Photography encouraged: A custom designed fresh flower photo-op by owner Priscilla Leitch will be on site to use for your own special photos.
Saturday, May 7, 2022
10:00 A.M to 5:00 P.M.
Talbot County is steeped in more than 350 years of American history. Named in honor of Lady Grace, wife of Sir Robert Talbot and sister of Cecilius Calvert, second Lord Baltimore, Talbot County was settled by the English about 1661. The Chesapeake Bay and five navigable tributaries—the Choptank, Tred Avon, Miles, Tuckahoe and Wye Rivers—provide more than 600 miles of picturesque waterfront and fertile croplands to Talbot County. The early manor houses along the creeks and bays face the waters that brought guests and trade from across the Chesapeake and around the world. Easton, once known as “Talbot Town,” became the county seat by act of the Maryland Legislature in 1778. Much of the early legal and political history of the United States originated in Talbot County, which is justifiably proud of its history and of the loving restoration and presentation of so many of its prominent public buildings, historic homes and gardens, such as those you will see today.
Chair: Eleanor Denegre
Advisors: Caroline Benson and Virginia Sappington.
Advertising: Maggie Jarboe and Louise Williams.
Flowers: Ingrid Blanton and Karen Parker.
Hospitality: Georgia Adler and Susie Granville.
Hostess: Jody Shaner.
Luncheon: Ann Ashby and Sue Ellen Williams.
Parking and Ambassadors: Alden Firth and Fran Jenkins.
Patron Letter: Martha Horner and Pat Lewers.
Photography: Laura Carney and Marsie Hawkinson.
Publicity: Pam Keeton and Rita Mhley.
Rack Cards: Rebecca Gaffney.
Road Marking and Directions: Carol Harrison and Trish Reynolds.
Script: Eleanor Denegre.
Tour Bells: Caroline Benson.
Treasurers: Joan Crowley, Maxine Millar and Virginia Sappington.
TCGC President: Carolyn Rugg.
Special Project: Joseph’s Cottage, c. 1797-98, Site #1. Joseph’s Cottage was built by cabinet maker Joseph Neall as his home and shop. The 11/2 story cottage may seem small to us (16' x 20'), particularly compared to his brother James’ house, but in fact it was a more typical house of the 18th and early 19th centuries. Most Talbot County residents lived in houses similar to Joseph’s, or even smaller. When Joseph lived in the house, it stood at the corner of Washington Street and Glenwood Avenue. In 1826 the house was moved to its current location sometime after his brother, James, built his 31/2 story brick home. In 1798 when the Federal Government surveyed all property for tax purposes, Joseph’s lot also contained a kitchen, meat house and shop. He also kept a cow, chickens, pigs, bees and a horse. Funds from the Talbot County Tour will contribute to the restoration of the building by the Talbot Historical Society. Proceeds from the Talbot County Tour will also be used to support the care and maintenance of the Talbot County Garden Club’s many civic projects.
1. TALBOT HISTORICAL SOCIETY GARDENS, 25 S. Washington Street, Easton 21601. You are invited to tour the Historical Society’s Gardens that are maintained by the Talbot County Garden Club members. Enter through the North Terrace on Washington Street. The hand-wrought iron gate was designed to complement the Charleston Gate at the far end of the garden and incorporates the Society’s “Star” logo. This charming Entrance Garden was designed with
the assistance of noted garden designer Gordon Hayward to create a beautiful public entrance access to the larger garden. It includes dwarf boxwood, spring and fall blooming camellias, oak leaf hydrangeas and native sweetbay magnolias. The adjacent picket fence was designed after that of the Chase Lloyd Garden in Annapolis. The South Terrace Garden was the gift of the
Talbot County Garden Club in 1961 and was replanted in 2015. The Nettie Jones Garden has rectangular beds, typical of classical garden design in the 17th and 18th centuries. The Alice D. Huxley Herb Garden in the right rear corner has a sundial as its focal point. Enjoy these beloved gardens.
2. WILLIAM MASON SHEHAN HOUSE, Constructed in 1909-1910 in the architectural Colonial Revival style, the William Mason Shehan House is one of Easton’s most distinguished homes. The imposing front portico is set upon an open brick porch supported by paired Corinthian columns and ornamented by a denticulated, boxed cornice with returns. Large interior windows allow natural light to showcase the wide entrance hall and expansive living and dining rooms. Serving as Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Talbot County, Shehan resided in the single-family dwelling with his family until his death in 1941. Upon entering this lovely home, you are welcomed by the airy foyer. A grand staircase leads your eye upward to the striking entrance to the office with its French doors and eyelet window. To the right of the foyer is the dining room whose bay windows offer wonderful natural light and provide a clear vista through the home. The sunroom’s wraparound windows, French doors and exposed brick chimney make it the perfect place to relax. The architectural details and serene color palette in the kitchen with its light gray stone floors, white cabinets and dark countertops offer a welcoming place for people to gather. Moving outdoors, the rear yard is an island of tranquility with a guest house and pool visually connected to the main house through the use of trellises and magnificent landscaping.
3. THIRD HAVEN FRIENDS MEETING HOUSE, 405 S. Washington Street, Easton 21601. Completed in 1684, this is the oldest documented building in the State. As one of only a handful of 17th century buildings surviving in the Tidewater region, it is listed with the Maryland Historical Trust. At the time of its construction, there were many small meetings in the area, and it was attended as a general “Meetinghouse” to host gatherings of Friends from all over Maryland rather than as a place of local worship. By the end of the 17th century, the smaller meetings began to close down and their members traveled more frequently to Third Haven. Meeting for worship has continued to the present. Originally built in a modified cruciform, it was enlarged to its present shape in 1797-98. The sliding panels, which divide the large room, were closed to provide for separate men’s and women’s business meetings. On one of the inside posts are some early 19th century graffiti.
4. RIVERBANK, Filled with an elegant and crisp blue and white interior décor, this charming house is nestled along the banks of Dixon Creek, just off the Tred Avon River. Local lore has it that a smitten young landowner fell in love with Mary Lee of Virginia and named his land “Lee Haven” in honor of his bride-to-be. Alas, the marriage never took place, but the name has held and has been a haven for the families who have made this their home and enjoyed its wonderful views. Much of the property is lushly shaded with older trees and an impressive display of peonies, camellias, hydrangeas and rhododendrons. With winding pathways throughout, this garden continues to evolve with fresh plantings and new spaces such as the creek-side fire-pit for friends and family to enjoy. The elegant pool is sited to become an element of the garden with grays and beiges incorporated so as not to conflict with the surrounding colorful plantings of roses, hydrangeas and hellebores. Nearby is a stone-edged croquet court with a formal boxwood hedge, adjacent to a parterre with tulips, peonies, lilies and a variety of irises. A garden path leads back to the house where a brick walled potager is filled with perennials, herbs and punctuated with tuteurs supporting roses and clematis. Follow the brick walk to the rear of the home to take in the waterside garden and the always blooming living shoreline just feet from the water’s edge. This delightful property is a horticulturist’s dream that must not be missed.
5. SHIPSHEAD FARM, A pea gravel drive winds past a shaded two-tiered pond to a fully restored 18th century three-story manor house with additions to accommodate 21st century living. Sheepshead Point Farm was referenced in Talbot County documents with a land patent of 1664. Over time, the name of the property was corrupted to Shipshead and later Shipshead Farm. Under the design and direction of Easton architect Christine Dayton, a renovation project took four years to complete. Full restoration achieved a geo-thermal conditioned, fully plumbed and electrified house with historical charm. The original portion of the house sits upon a brick foundation with frame and brick nogging in the walls. The heart pine flooring is original on all levels of the main house. The twelve-foot-high foyer and parlor ceilings are enhanced by original plaster crown molding and delicately carved plaster ceiling medallions. The oval stairway is original to the home. New additions allow for a private master suite with garden and farm views of grazing wildlife and numerous species of migrating waterfowl during the winter months, as well as a new kitchen, dining room and great room that offer a spacious place for entertaining. Backyard pathways are highlighted by a variety of grasses, crepe myrtles and perennials. Paths lead to a pond-like swimming pool and butterfly gardens and to the expansive farm fields beyond. Low-lying areas of the fields were converted into impoundments that are flooded in the fall to create habitat for waterfowl. An archaeological project was conducted in a field to the east, where a brick foundation was found and determined to be the first Free School in Talbot County. Artifacts were catalogued and are displayed in the library of the home. Sensitivity in conserving farmland from development and creating a mecca for wildlife were foremost on the minds of the owners over the last 30 years and they hope you will find your own sense of peace as you walk the grounds of this hidden gem.
6. LEGGACY, The 1870s Victorian house sits on a point of land that extends to the Miles River. The back of the house overlooks a large lawn with old and stately trees and a pool located halfway to the riverbank. The house is built in the “shingle style,” a style that was popular in late 19th century Northeastern coastal areas for those seeking a rustic rather than formal Victorian style. Covered in butter-yellow scalloped shingles and trimmed in white, the house has wide wraparound porches and a complex, asymmetrical roofline formed by dormers, bay windows and a wide turret. Pine wood floors and the original Victorian moldings with intricate wainscoting were restored. Soft wall colors juxtapose the dark pine floors and high gloss cream paint highlights the beautiful woodwork and architectural details throughout the house. A snappy kitchen and mud room renovation is accompanied with stylish and fresh lighting fixtures. A tiger maple pocket door was discovered encased by layers of drywall. Many of the home’s historic features have been preserved, including a pair of iron brackets that are mounted on either side of the front doorjamb. They originally held a large iron bar across the door that was the 19th century version of locking up at night. Established around 1680, the now-extinct Miles River Ferry transported passengers via canoe and later a flat-bottomed boat that docked on what is now the property. According to History of Talbot County Maryland, 1661-1861 by Oswald Tilghman, before the first Miles River Bridge was built in 1858, the only way to cross the river was by ferry. This was an important ferry crossing to Easton or St. Michaels for the owners of some of our great estates, such as Wye House, Gross Coate and Hope House.
7. GROSS COATE FARM, The large brick dwelling, located on a peninsula at the confluence of the Wye River, Gross Creek and Lloyd Creek, is a Georgian masterpiece, dating from 1760. The property was in the Tilghman family for almost two and a half centuries and was patented originally to William Gross by Lord Baltimore on February 3, 1658. The dwelling had many additions through the years, eventually becoming a gracious plantation house. Christopher Weeks writes in his book, Where Land and Water Intertwine: “The house grew and changed in a leisurely fashion with the family fortunes.” In 1914, while significant changes were being made, an intricately carved mantel was found in the barn. The dining room floors were made from walnut trees that were blown down by a hurricane. The wood was cured by lying in the river for several years. The brick floor of the delightful kitchen is of herringbone design and was laid in 1804. The house has a pleasing wraparound porch, specifically designed by famed Baltimore architect William Levin Smith, to unite the many varied additions. The creamery, smokehouse, laundry, carriage house and stable are of interest, as are the very old and magnificent trees, several of which are State champions. The present owners have added the small Roman Catholic Chapel, which was consecrated by the Cardinal of the Archdiocese of Washington, DC in 2016. It is dedicated to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton of Maryland, who was America’s first female saint. All are welcome to visit and say a little prayer.
8. ASHBY, Situated on Goldsborough Neck overlooking the Miles River, Ashby was built in 1858 by Robert Goldsborough and his wife Elizabeth Greenberry in the Italianate style. Architecturally, Ashby is significant among the Italianate dwellings in Talbot County, i.e., Cherry Grove, Ingleside and Old Villa, built in Georgian symmetrical style. It was designed to convey a romantic sensibility on the highest point of land facing south with a rolling lawn and two-mile vista of the river and prevailing breezes. The addition of a Colonial Revival portico in 1941 created a more formal Georgian mansion from the otherwise informal Italianate dwelling. The building is two bays wide and two bays deep and constructed on a brick foundation, reputedly part of an earlier foundation. The framed walls are covered with German siding. An elegant entry hall features impressive high ceilings and the floor to ceiling windows in the great room illuminate the expansive interior rooms that overlook the river. The pool is surrounded by a formal brick wall with lavender beds and an adjacent tennis court. The renowned Maryland political family and the original owners are descended from Nicholas Goldsborough who emigrated from England and settled on Kent Island about 1670. Over nine generations, the family played an influential role in Maryland and national political life from the 1690s until well into the middle of the 20th century. North of the house and kitchen is the family cemetery enclosed by a high brick wall and stately gate. A long Williamsburg copy guest house with a formal box garden sits between the two. Many of the Goldsboroughs from Talbot, Kent and Queen Anne’s Counties are buried here.