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Cecil County

Perryville & Charlestown

Saturday, May 4, 2024

10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

 

Please note that the private homes on this tour are not ADA accessible and we recommend care when walking on walks and lawns and along public roads–we thank the owners for opening their homes to tour goers. Pilgrims assume responsibility for their own safety

when driving, parking and walking on the tour.

 

Please note: Tickets and Tour Books for this tour will be available for purchase and pickup ONLY at: Donaldson Brown Riverfront Event Center, 200 Mt. Ararat Farm Road, Port Deposit, MD 21904 and at Charlestown Town Hall, 2241 Market Street, Charlestown, MD 21914. Charlestown will be a walking tour and please follow the signage.

 

Saturday, May 4, 2024 – 10:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.

 

The legacy of Cecil County owes much to its strategic location, situated at the mouth of the Susquehanna River, on the Upper Chesapeake Bay of Maryland, connecting the Baltimore metropolitan area with Philadelphia and sharing borders with both Delaware and Pennsylvania. Captain John Smith’s exploration of the Chesapeake Bay, in 1608,  documents great activity by the inhabitants at the mouth of  the Susquehanna River. The county was named after Cecil Calvert, 2nd Baron of Baltimore. It was created by a land grant from Lord Baltimore in 1674, that included the Susquehanna and the additional four rivers: North East, Elk, Bohemia and Sassafras, at a time when everything and everyone moved by water. The early colonists were quick to use and improve the rivers and trails that became toll roads and waterways and figured prominently through British occupation and the history of America. Today, these avenues are recognized as major highway systems (MD Route 40 and the I-95 corridor); railroad lines for CSX and Norfolk Southern; Amtrak commuter rail lines; and the C&D Canal, built 1824 to 1829, connecting the Chesapeake Bay with the Atlantic Ocean. The county provides recreation for residents and tourists with access to its river systems and 200 miles of Chesapeake Bay shoreline and access to over 11,000 acres of reserved land such as Elk Neck State Park, the Elk Neck State Forest, and Fair Hill Natural Resource Area. Both Charlestown and Perryville are experiencing restoration and renovation of historic architectural structures that illustrate the unique heritage of these river towns. Sites like the 1719 Principio Iron Works and Furnace, located midway between Perryville and Charlestown on MD Route 7,

are now marked on Scenic Byways as one of the most successful colonial ironworks in the 18th century, producing cannonballs for the American Revolution. These tours and sites

are increasing in popularity and highlighted on National Road and Scenic Byway tours. Chesapeake Country All American Road video—https://www.visitmaryland. org/scenic-byways/Chesapeake-country. Lower Susquehanna Scenic Byway video—https:/www.visitmaryland. org/scenic-byways/lower-Susquehanna. The MHGP Cecil County Tour offers Perryville and Charlestown historic homes and sites for an authentic

look at colonial history period, history, and Cecil Counties strategic transportation history

Co-Chairs: Karl Fockler: 443-907-3344, khflaw@aim.com and Pamela Mayhan: 804-405-5530, Pamela.Mayhan@gmail.com Committee Chairs: Treasurer: Ken Confalone. Script: Jenifer Pitt, Karl Fockler, Paige Tilghman, and Jack Thompson, Junior.

 

Special Project: The MHGP 2024 Cecil County Tour will dedicate funds to two projects; the Colonial Charlestown Water Tower and the Rodgers Tavern Museum in Perryville. Charlestown,

located on the North East River, was established in 1742, by Act of Maryland Assembly for “the encouragement of Trade and Navigation as the surest means of promoting the happiness and increasing the riches...” It served as a British colony port, with a wharf and three-story warehouse to ensure that only quality flour would be sold and shipped. The town was a major stop along the Old Post Road, between Baltimore and Philadelphia in the 1700s and became a major supply depot for the Continental Army. Much of the Revolutionary architecture remains in the town today, as well as later period structures from the Federal and Victorian Periods. The town seeks to invest in a Victorian wooden structure to crown the original water tower, a prominent and iconic landmark for Colonial Charlestown. (www.charlestownmd.org) Perryville will invest MHGP Funds in Rodgers Tavern Museum, one of the few surviving examples of an 18th century Georgian style Tavern and Public House in Maryland and now owned by the Town of Perryville. Rodgers Tavern was opened in 1750 and was also known as Stevens Tavern. Early on it was active as the Lower Susquehanna Ferry site. The Rodgers Tavern Museum describes the evolution of America’s transportation history from 1695 to today. Rodgers Tavern played a key role in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 by providing lodging and ferrying troops and cargo. Documents confirm the Lower Susquehanna Ferry conveyed 4,000 French and 1,100 American Troops during the march to Yorktown, VA in 1781. Funds raised from the MHGP will support funding for a roof replacement. www.rodgerstavern.com

Lunch: Available at several local restaurants including the Historic Wellwood Club, located on the North East River Front, at 523 Water Street, Charlestown 21914. The Wellwood is famous for crabs and its remarkable photos and memorabilia collection from past Presidents who have visited the establishment over time.

 

Tickets: Tickets for the MHGP Cecil County Tour, including both Perryville and Charlestown are available for $45.00 (cash or check) the day of the sale and will provide entrance to all the sites on the tour for that day. Tickets may be purchased at: Donaldson Brown Riverfront Event Center, 200 Mt. Ararat Farm Road, Port Deposit 21904 and at Charlestown Town Hall, 2241 Market Street, Charlestown, MD 21914.

 

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#1. Donaldson Brown Riverfront Event Center

200 Mt. Ararat Farm Road, Port Deposit 21904

 

Donaldson Brown Riverfront Event Center, constructed between 1936 and 1939, the Donaldson Brown Riverfront mansion beckons visitors on a journey through time within its expansive 23-acre estate. The estate is perched 200 feet above the majestic Susquehanna River in Cecil County. This architectural masterpiece offers panoramic riverfront vistas, commanding historic aesthetics, and the meticulous attention to detail. The mansion features over 40 rooms with stunning hardwood floors and soaring 14-foot ceilings. The mansion exudes a unique blend of charm and sophistication by showcasing the graceful arched doorways, ornate ceiling medallions, hand-painted wallpaper, intricate crown moldings, a dazzling crystal chandelier, and a collection of original furnishings that is all impeccably preserved.  The mansion's historic ambiance is further enriched by original portraits and captivating staff stories gleaned from the family memoirs of Mr. F. Donaldson Brown's extraordinary journey. His journey includes the marriage to Greta du Pont Barksdale, a DuPont heir and their associations with celebrities that included Howard Hughes, Katherine Hepburn, and Alfred Sloan. Mr. Frank Donaldson Brown also solidified his place in history as the youngest Virginia Tech graduate and the visionary founder of the DuPont Return-on-Investment (ROI) formula in 1914.

Perryville Railroad Station parking lot
#2. Perryville Railroad Museum

650 Broad Street, Perryville 21903

 

The Perryville Railroad Museum, located in the 1905 Perryville MARC Train Station, opened its doors to the public on December 7, 1996. Featured is a model railroad representing the tracks, past and present, in the Perryville area including Amtrak’s Mainline and NS Port Road Branch including Perryville Yard, which was all built by the Pennsylvania Railroad. The museum is a non-profit organization

operated by volunteers of the Perryville Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society. Owner: Amtrak.

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#3. Rodgers Tavern Museum

259 Broad Street, Perryville 21903.

 

Rodgers Tavern is a two-story Georgian-style stone building on the banks of the Susquehanna River. Built in the 1740s for the Thomas Family, it, and the adjacent Susquehanna Lower Ferry, were important links in an overland transportation system spanning the eastern seaboard, supplying transportation, food, rest, and a sense of community until the 1880s. Original 18th century paneling and decorative moldings are in the front parlor. A 1771 fire back cast locally at the Principio Ironwork is in the main room. Saved because of its association with famous guests, the Rodgers Tavern Museum now endeavors to tell the stories of all who live, worked, and visited this vital link on an important roadway in American history. Located on the National Park Service Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail. Owners: Town of Perryville.

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#4. Perry Point Veterans Museum at the Grist Mill

 361 Boiler House Road, Building 361, Perry Point 21902.

 

The VA Maryland Health Care System operates a Veterans Museum located in the  circa 1750 Grist Mill on the campus of the Perry Point VA Medical Center. Visitors to the Perry Point Veterans Museum at the Grist Mill will have an opportunity to explore the rich history of the peninsula that was once used as the hunting grounds by the Susquehannock Indians, served as a large estate for early settlers, was occupied by the Union Government during the Civil War, provided support to the U.S. military during World War I, and was later dedicated to delivering health care to Maryland’s Veterans. The Grist Mill is on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of the oldest known structures in the entire VA system. Owners: The VA Maryland Health Care System.

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#5. 107 / Tory House

343 Market Street, Charlestown 21914.

 

Circa 1810, the original deed for the property describes a building, built in the Dutch fashion, which was destroyed. Around 1810 the foundations were reused for the present two-story, three-bay, Federal frame structure. Its side hall/double parlor plan was built from the remains of the earlier house. Parts of the older house are visible in the cellar, where the tavern kitchen has been restored. A circa 1870 two-story wing stretches to the south. Long thought to have been an 18th century tavern run by British sympathizers and confiscated during the revolution, this house became known as the “Tory House.” It has been restored through the efforts of the Colonial Charlestown, Inc. 

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#6. The Water Tower

343 Market Street, Charlestown 21914.

 

Circa 1743. Even though it borders on the North East River, Charlestown has always had trouble obtaining adequate drinking water as the town sits on 150' deep layers of clay. As early as 1743, one year after the establishment of the Town, the Town Commissioners approved the construction of five communal wells for the use by the inhabitants. Built as a water tower for the McKeown House also known as the Klondike House, this two-and-a-half-story, twelve square foot, framed structure contains a large cypress wood tank in its second story. The ship lapped pegged construction indicates once again that many of Charlestown’s earlier carpenters were also ship builders. The water tower was moved in 1978-1979 by “Colonial Charlestown,” Inc. to its present location at 343 Market Street after it had fallen into disrepair at it's prior location.

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#7. Red Lyon Tavern 

328 Market Street, Charlestown 21914.

 

Circa 1755. Located on Lot 82 of the original plat of Charlestown, the Red Lyon Tavern housed Steven Porter’s Tavern, and John Black’s Store, simultaneously. At its core is a room measuring 23' x 19' and constructed of poplar, log planks, hewn square with the ends, neatly fitted with intricate dovetailing. An archaeological dig in the hearth area revealed seven occupational layers. The fourth level is the most intriguing, for it reveals a brick floor in the room. Preserving, soap making, and winter housekeeping took place in this room, which later served as a stockroom for goods sold in Black’s Store. The Red Lyon is one of the several town structures in which the Royal American Regiment was billeted during the winter of 1756-1757.

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#8 Indian Queen

322 Market Street, Charlestown 21914.

 

Circa 1742. In 1742 when Charlestown was chartered the town founders drew chances for lots in the newly laid out community. Zebulon Hollingsworth, “Innkeeper,” won the lot where the

Indian Queen is now standing. This beautiful home has a centrally located chimney dividing this house in four areas, which allows a fireplace in each room both upstairs and down. The

Indian Queen is one of the several places on the eastern seaboard to hold the distinction: “George Washington slept here.”

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#9. Post Office / Town Hall 

241 Market Street, Charlestown 21914.

 

Circa 1878. This two-room school building housed grades 1 to 7, was erected in 1878 and used as such until 1961 when the Board of Education deeded it back to the Town of Charlestown. Many old-timers of the area remember stoking the potbelly stove to keep warm during cold winter days. The building currently houses the Town Hall and Post Office.

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#10. St. Johns Methodist Church / Cemetery

226 Market Street, Charlestown 21914.

 

Circa 1856. During the pre-revolutionary  period Methodist services in Charlestown were held in the home of Francis Scott Key’s, father. The services were infrequent, long, and indoor space was minimal; however, people were eager for a chance for fellowship. For the daylong gatherings, a small frame building housed the church until 1856 when the two-story brick building was built. It is distinguished by stained glass windows and a traditional floor plan in which the worship area is on the second floor.

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#11. Eagle Point Gun Club
Charlestown 21914.

 

Circa 1792. The property is shown in the 1813 sketch of Charlestown by Benjamin Latrobe. The house is located on a low bluff that overlooks the North East River. The original house built by William Graham in 1792 had four rooms to which three wings were later added, one being a Philadelphia trolley car. In the 1900s the home became a rod and gun club for prosperous sportsman. Later the house was the site for lavish parties by the Burkes who built a bungalow next door for their granddaughter. Legend contends that two elderly soldiers haunt the residence.

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#12. The Wharf / Long Point

Charlestown 21914.

 

During the 1700s the Town’s center of activity was the wharf. It was 300' long and wide enough for the passage of three wagons. As many as six ships docked there at one time. Each was loading or unloading fish, flour, rum, grain, tobacco, sugar, and passengers. On this site, a massive warehouse, 80' long and three stories high with 36" walls, was used for grain storage. Flour from places as far away as Pennsylvania was stored, inspected, and shipped from here.

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#13. The Still House

424 Water Street, Charlestown, 21914.

 

Circa 1790. Located on Lot #1 of the 200 original lots sold in Charlestown in 1742, the Still House gets its name from being one of the early leading industries in Town: Liquor Distilling. Owned by Peacock Bigger, the distillery converted sugar  shipped from the West Indies into rum. It is documented that when ships would set sail bottles of rum, spiked with lime juice would be aboard. Each sailor would receive daily rations of the rum to help prevent scurvy. Part of the process of making rum occurred in a large fireplace in the basement of this home.

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#14. The Barnes' Ice House

Charlestown 21914.

 

Circa 1890. Facing a protective curve on the Charlestown waterfront this 28' high building was built in the 19th century by Captain Perry K. Barnes to supplement his large commercial fishing business. Twelve inch wide pine planks were shipped lapped together by hand to give this beautiful building its interesting look. Eighteen inch thick, ground cork, insulated this building in which ice harvested from the river was stored. A lean-to shed housed tools of the trade: fishing nets, boats, long oars, and other equipment.

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#15. The Wellwood Yacht Club

523 Water Street, Charlestown 21914.

 

Circa 1872. When canvasback ducks, geese, swan, shad, and shellfish were abundant at the head of the

Chesapeake Bay, so were well-to-do hunters. Staying at the Wellwood Club, they were housed in dormitory style rooms, named the “Cuba Inn,” later changed in the 1960s to the “Cabana Inn.” United States, senators, governors, presidents, and other VIPs, frequented the Club, as it provided golfing, docking facilities, fine dining, yachting, swimming, hunting, and entertainment with pleasant surroundings. Presently, The Wellwood continues as a year-round fine/casual dining establishment.

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#16. The Klondyke House

 208 Caroline Street, Charlestown 21914.

 

Circa 1897. After the County seat was moved from Charlestown to Elkton in 1787, the building of large homes ceased until the Gold Rush Era when two of the McKeown brothers went west to make their fortune. Gambling, not mining, proved to be profitable for the brothers. Returning to Charlestown they built this turreted Victorian house which resembles homes of the Pacific coast. Lavish in architecture and construction materials, it stands basically unchanged alongside a hexagonal clapboard icehouse.

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#17. Tara's Garden 

723 Calvert Street, Charlestown 21914.

 

When Tara purchased 723 Calvert Street in 2017, much of the landscaping around the house was neglected, and the backyard was lawn, except for a small, overlooked garden bed in a back corner.  After taking a class on landscaping with native plants at Cecil College, Tara began incorporating native trees, grasses, shrubs, flowers, and other plants into the existing beds and converting the backyard into native garden beds in 2019. Native plants are critical to supporting the natural ecosystem by conserving water, preventing erosion, and providing habitat and food to native wildlife. Calvert Garden received Bay-Wise Landscape certification from the University of Maryland Extension in 2022. Whether you live in an apartment, townhouse, or single-family home, Tara urges everyone to include a few native plants to help protect local wildlife.

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