East New Market

Historic Sketches

1975 - Richard J. Rivoire

National Register of Historic Places Inventory -Nomination Form
prepared by Richard J. Rivoire, Architectural Historian
for the Maryland Historical Trust

An Inventory of the East New Market Historic District
by Richard J. Rivoire

The East New Market Historic District encompasses within its boundaries a small Dorchester County community located less than one mile southeast of the town of Secretary and about ten miles northeast of Cambridge, the county seat. The district is bounded on the south and east sides by Md. Rt. 392, on the west side by Creamery Road, and on the north side by Secretary Creek. The historic district is intersected by Md. Rts. 14 and 16, which provide the main thoroughfares and along which most of the town buildings are located.

The village consists of about seventy-five buildings that represent a variety of eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth century architectural styles. The majority of the buildings in the town appear to date from the nineteenth century although a large percentage constitutes altered versions of earlier buildings.

The earliest known survey of the town that records standing structures is that which was published in a Dorchester County atlas in 1877. Most of the buildings recorded in this atlas remain today, a feature probably attributable to the fact that little later development occurred. A great number of the buildings are private residences; only about ten are utilized commercially and these are concentrated at the junction of the two main streets, an area of the village long utilized for this purpose.

Almost all of the buildings, with the exception of those commercially oriented, are located on large tree-shaded lots, set back at varying distances from the public roads. Between the front of the lots and the now paved streets are brick walks that were installed in 1884. In many cases these walks have been covered as a result of poor drainage, but all exist intact a short distance below ground level. the streets are lined by a variety of lofty trees, an aesthetically pleasing feature that adds great visual charm and physical continuity to the village. The lands surrounding the town remain open and are cultivated yearly, a characteristic feature of many Eastern Shore communities.

The only recent development that could be considered an encroachment on the integrity of the village is a small concentration of modern rancher-type houses on the east side of Creamery Road (see map). Other changes that have occurred since about 1930 have fortunately been confined to two commercial structures (a general store and a realtor’s office), several unassuming homes, and the modernization of several of the earlier residences.

Of the approximately seventy-five buildings in East New Market, at least twenty-four can be contextually identified as possessing architectural merit. Two of the best houses, Fletcher’s Folly, a large, Second Empire-style building, and Rose Hill, an outstanding example of rural Federal architecture, were demolished in recent years. The sites of these buildings can be found on the attached sites identification map. Other buildings include:

1) Friendship Hall; 2) a cross-shaped, frame, Victorian house with deep porches and bracketed cornices and gables; 3) a two-story frame house with double chimneys. This house probably dates from about 1800 and is reminiscent of the architecture of the southern counties of Maryland; 4) Smith Cottage, a diminutive one-story frame house with a single large chimney at each end. Said to be of plank or log construction, this small house is situated well back from the road, is shaded by towering trees, and is one of the more attractive residences in the village; 5) New Market, a two-story frame and brick house that incorporates a late eighteenth century building into its present plan; 6) House of the Hinges, a particularly noteworthy and important example of Federal architecture displaying a handsome street facade embellished with classically inspired decorations. To the rear of this house is a small log building with decorative wrought hinges; 7) a large, ell-shaped, nineteenth century frame house of pleasing proportions and detail; 8) Manning House, a small, eighteenth century, one-story frame house that has a remarkably well-preserved exterior. The two first floor principal rooms of this house are paneled and have cater-cornered fireplaces. At the rear of the house is a small log shed believed to be contemporary to the house in its date of construction. The formerly detached kitchen is joined to the house by a small frame hyphen; 9) the East New Market Elementary School, a Colonial Revival-style building constructed in 1912 on the site of two earlier buildings, the 1818 New Market Academy and the 1825 Sherman Institute; 10) a small, frame, circa 1900 building with a crow stepped gable front that was probably originally used as a store; 11) the East New Market Episcopal Church, a charming 1898 frame building with a noteworthy Victorian Gothic interior; 12) the Hurley House, a two-story frame dwelling that from external observation appears to date from the early twentieth century but which, in fact, incorporates an eighteenth century building with exposed principal framing within the forward part of the house; 13) a particularly fine Eastlake-styled house completely original on the interior, also retaining some of the original furnishings and fixtures; 14) Maurice Hall, one of the better eighteenth century houses in the village that had later alterations made to it in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. In a first floor room is a highly decorative plaster ceiling. In the mid-nineteenth century a cross-gable was added to the front slope of the roof; 15) The Trading Post, a building said to have been an eighteenth century trading post of log construction. Identifiable exterior evidences of its former appearance are camouflaged by later alterations; 16) a large, Victorian-style frame structure similar to No. 2; 17) a two-story, three-part, early nineteenth century frame house of Federal proportions and detail; 18) another large Victorian-style house similar to Nos. 1 and 16 and among the better examples of this style in the village; 19) the Jones House, a gable fronted, two-story brick house of pleasing proportions and plan. It is unfortunate that this interesting and important house had its exterior walls recently refaced with used brick, an alteration that was poorly and unsympathetically planned and executed; 20) an early frame house that was altered in the late nineteenth century to its present Victorian appearance; 21) a one-story, bungalow-style frame house that represents a total renovation of an earlier building; 22) the Methodist Church, a very simple 1848 building with an attractive but somewhat austere interior. This building replaced an earlier house of worship built about 1810.

East New Market was settled during the second half of the seventeenth century on properties that included a tract owned by Henry Sewall, secretary of the province of Maryland during the seventeenth century, and close friend and associate of Lord Baltimore. It is believed that the first white settler was John Edmonson, a Quaker who came here from Virginia in the 1660s seeking religious freedom.

Early maps of the region, including that prepared by Augustine Hermann, records the existence of an Indian village and fort not far from this location, but as the area became colonized these original inhabitants were forced to live on a reservation set aside for their use and located between East New Market and Secretary. Artifacts relating to this culture continue to be unearthed.

Shortly after Edmonson arrived he was joined by Colonel James O’Sullivane and two of O’Sullivane’s brothers. They are known to have lived within or proximate to the present village and are generally recognized as being instrumental in furthering the early development of the area. It is probably they who began the operation of a small trading post here. The building which housed this operation, although altered, is said to still exist.

East New Market was evidently moderately prosperous throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The last quarter of the eighteenth century, a period when many of the village’s better houses (Friendship Hall, House of the Hinges, and Maurice Hall) were built, however, must have been a period of greater economic stability and growth. In the later part of the nineteenth century a second rise in relative prosperity occurred, undoubtedly the result of the opening of a railroad to the east of the village. The railroad gave the village greater value as an economic center and it was at this time that there was an apparent rise in commercial industry, including the establishment of two fruit and vegetable houses.

By the late 1880s East New Market had established itself as a viable part of the county’s economic stability. At this time the town incorporated itself, several of the older homes were modernized, and several large homes, reflecting tastes popular at that time, were built. As there were also four long established and active churches in the town, all representing different faiths, the town was considered a center of religious activity as well.

However, by the close of the first quarter of the twentieth century the importance of the town waned in the light of nearby Cambridge, the county seat. Although by the 1930s the town still retained a large percentage of its residents and buildings, commercial activity had been greatly decreased and the village quietly slipped into obscurity.

East New Market remains today much as it was at the time of its incorporation, probably due to the fact that development has been minimized by the modest economic resources of the region. Therefore, East New Market has escaped disruption from over-expansion while still maintaining itself as a comfortable community with an interesting history, a heritage reflected in its several finer homes.

As a community that remains so well preserved it deserves continued maintenance to insure against possible encroachment as adjacent towns expand and farms are subdivided. The village is not just a place where there are several fine homes but is also, historically and physically, an integral part of their environment. If East New Market were to be developed the way a vast majority of small Maryland towns have, then the significance of these several buildings would be greatly diminished, for they are as much a part of the town as the town is of them. In addition, East New Market affords a valuable opportunity to preserve an important aspect of regional socio-economic development--an opportunity that is diminishing in availability with frightening rapidity.