East New Market

Property Reports

9 Railroad Avenue

Phillips-Blake House (1882)

Dr. J.R. Phillips House

A tax record from 1852 mentions a house and a storehouse on Rachael Webster's L-shaped lot.  It appears that the original house may have been there in 1813 as Thomas and Rachael Webster were living in New Market at the time.  The original house may have been built by Theophilus Marshall short after he bought the property in 1796.  However it is more likely Webster had the original house built in the early 1800s.  This original house was owned by Dr. James R. Phillips when it burned to the ground in January 1882 as noted in a newspaper article.  The newspaper article indicated the dwelling was insured.  Since Dr. Phillips sold the lot and house several months later.  He had likely built a new house with the insurance money immediately after the original house burned in 1882.

Some earlier histories referred to this property as a tavern run by Thomas Helsby.  I have not found any records to indicate the original house was a tavern.  The Thomas Helsby who owned this house was a wheelwright and only lived through 3-4 years of ownership. 

From "Between The Nanticoke and the Choptank, An Architectural History of Dorchester County, Maryland"   Edited by Christopher Weeks, with contributions by Michael O. Bourne, Geoffrey Henry, Catherine Moore, Calvin Mowbray, M. Fred Tidwell.

"Red Head" Thomas Helsby Tavern - This house was built in 1863 by Thomas Helsby, known to his contemporaries as "Red Head", to distinguish him from another villager of the same name.  During the nineteenth century it saw several uses, principally as a tavern. 
[Error Note - Thomas Helsby did not own this property in 1863.  He bought the property in 1865.  Either the house was built later, or possibly Helsby did not build the house.]

From the Maryland Historical Trust State Historic Sites Inventory Form

The house that has been known as the "Helsby Tavern" stands on the south side of Railroad Avenue near the main intersection of East New Market, Dorchester County, Maryland. The two-story side hall/parlor house faces north with the gable oriented on an east/west axis.

Built in 1864, the two-story, three-bay frame house is supported by a minimal brick foundation and is sheathed with plain weatherboards. The steeply pitched gable roof is covered with asphalt shingles. Attached to the back of the house is a two-story one-bay rear wing that is extended farther south by a two-
story, shed-roofed addition.

The north (main) elevation is an asymmetrical three-bay facade with a east side entrance and flanking six-over-six sash windows. The glazed front door is flanked by two-light sidelights and a three-light transom. The adjacent windows are framed by louvered shutters. Stretching across the first floor is a Tuscan
columned, hip roof porch. The second floor is lighted by three six-over-six sash windows also hung with louvered shutters.

The gable ends are pierced by six-over-six sash windows, while small three pane windows light the attic. An interior end brick stack formerly rose through the west gable end, but it has been removed above the roofline. The eaves are slightly extended with short returns at the base.

The south side of the front block is largely covered by the two-story one-bay rear wing that is enlarged by a two-story shed roofed section farther south.  A partially enclosed shed roofed porch stretches across the north side of the service wing.  The interior was unseen.

Significance - The two-story side hall/parlor house that is known as "Helsby Tavern" is reported to have been built in 1864. The weatherboard frame house is a typical form for the Civil War era with its sidelighted entrance and six-over-six sash windows. The house is designated on the 1877 town map under the ownership of Dr. J. R. Phillips.

Notes from Chuck Hurley

Bessie Collins' house which is now owned by the Kincaid family living in Cambridge has some real neat history not really known by locals even.  It is the house now owned by a lady hairdresser by the name of B.J. ___.  Prior to this Chuck Blake son of Margaret and Alton Blake, son of Bessie and Howard Blake had the house until his early death.  Bessie Collins house became the home of Anna Lee Blake Harrington (1st husband who died) Moxey (married to Johnny Moxey until his death.)  One of Anna Lee's daughters obtained this house from the estate of her mother and her daughter now lives there - at least on and off.  The front was changed in 2003 to reflect the change that can now be seen.  The cement floor for the front porch was kept. The house still has the partial brick floor for the kitchen/side porch area. Due to financial reasons the town allowed the front of the house to be changed to vinyl siding rather than the asbestos siding on the rest of the house due to environmental reasons and allowed the front porch to be replaced with the smaller portico while leaving the cement slab in tact.  The original floor when Ms Bessie had it was, of course, wood.  At this time, the best date for this particular structure's beginning is 1870.  The second floor in front has three unevenly located windows that are six-over-six

Biographical Sketches of the Members of the House of Delegates, January Session 1908

J. R. PHILLIPS, Democrat—Preston.  - James R. Phillips, A. M., M. D., was born in Dorchester county, Md., in 1844. His father, a successful farmer; his grandfather, and son, all bore the same name, and each were only sons. Dr. Phillips' early education was obtained in Cambridge, Md„ under the tuition of Dr. Theodore Barber. He attended Newark Academy, Newark, Del., two years, entered Princeton College in 1864, from which he was graduated in 1867. He took his degree of M. D. from the University of Maryland in 1869. During the same year he married Miss Sarah E. Percy and established his home in East New Market, Dorchester county, Md, where he remained till his removal to Preston, Caroline county. He resided in Laurel, Prince George's county, from 1878 to 1884, when he returned to Preston, Md. He has four children living, Mrs. S. E. Douglas, Mrs. N. H. Fooks, Elizabeth and J. R. Phillips, Jr., all residing in Preston. He retired in 1904, after 25 years' successful practice of his profession. He finds recreation and employment of mind in his association with his son-in-law, S. E. Douglas and J. R. Phillips, Jr., in industrial pursuits. Fraternally he is a Mason. He and all of his family are communicants of the Episcopal Church.

Cambridge Chronicle - 25 May 1833

Robert H. Webster writes a letter to the public denying rumors that he has beaten his mother.  The rumor began when he was denied membership to the society of Odd Fellows in Cambridge.  They gave as reason for denial that he treated his mother unkindly and inflicted blows on her.  Mrs. Rachel Webster appears before Henry C. Elbert and testifies on oath that the report in circulation against her son Robert H. Webster respecting his bad treatment towards her is absolute falsehood.  Francis Webb Sr. (admin of Thomas Webster, father of Robert Webster), certifies Mr. Robert Webster is a kind and affectionate and obedient son to his mother.  Samuel Sewell certifies that he has been a near neighbor to  Mrs. Rachel Webster for 8 to 10 years and has never known any ill treatment by the said Robert Webster to his mother.  Thomas H. Hicks certifies that he has known Mr. Webster since childhood and he has always been kind to his mother.  Further Mr. Webster and I have for a long time resided in the same neighborhood & I know him to be a young gentleman of sober and correct habits, and as far as I know, I have entire respectability.  William W. Eccleston certifies the same.  Mr. Eccleston moved from this neighborhood in the fall 1823.  I have frequently been in that neighborhood since and I have never known anything disrespectful of him.  I have heard it whispered in the neighborhood that he was a little irritable, but from his industrious habits, I thought it was a natural consequence.  I have never heard his mother complain of any improper conduct in him towards her.  [Robert H. Webster died less than 10 months later].