A Walking Tour of Chestertown, Maryland
There is no better way to see America than on foot. And there is no better way to appreciate what you are looking at than with a walking tour. This walking tour of Chestertown, Maryland is ready to explore when you are. Each walking tour describes historical, architectural landmarks, cultural sites and ecclesiastic touchstones and provides step-by-step directions. More
There is no better way to see America than on foot. And there is no better way to appreciate what you are looking at than with a walking tour. This walking tour of Chestertown, Maryland is ready to explore when you are. Each walking tour describes historical, architectural landmarks, cultural sites and ecclesiastic touchstones and provides step-by-step directions.
Every tour also includes a quick primer on identifying architectural styles seen on American streets.
Beginning with a Governor’s proclamation in 1668, the idea of establishing a port of entry at this spot on the Chester River had been kicked around for years. A cort house was built here in 1697 and when that colonial port was officially decreed in 1706, it assured the founding of a town.
A broad main street (called High today, platted at 90 feet wide) led from the river to the chief public space, situated at the intersection of a crossing street (called Cross) where the places of public business and other amenities are located. The simplicity of this scheme, similar to what William Penn was doing in Philadelphia, is something of a rarity among Chesapeake ports. Other Chesapeake harbors, like Annapolis and Oxford, being closer to the Bay itself, have too uneven a coastline or irregular a terrain to permit a clear crossplan with neat rectangular subdivisions.
The economy down to 1760 had been highly dependent on tobacco, but a dramatic shift in the direction of wheat production brought about a new prosperity that resulted in increased population for the Town. Its location squarely on th emost heavily traveled North-South road in Colonial America forged significant new ties with Philadelphia in the period just preceding the Revolution.
George Washington is known to have made at least eight visits tot he town, including dining on May 23, 1791. at Worrell’s Tavern that operated at Queen and Cannon streets. Washington donated money and lent his name to the college, which opened as Maryland’s first and the first in the new nation after the Revolution, in 1782. He served on the board of directors and was given an honorary degree of doctor of laws in 1789. The bronze figure of Washington on campus was executed by Lee Oskar Lawrie.
After a post-Revolutionary period of decline and relative stagnation, the Town’s fortunes clearly began to rise again by 1860, the time when the existing Court House was built. Fruit growing and the coming of the railroad to Chestertown in 1872 partially account for this boomlet, which in turn helps explain the large number of buildings remaining from that period. The 20th century has seen modest growth within the town limits with little architectural change in the Historic District since the reconstruction of a commercial block, destroyed by fire in 1910. Rather, the approach of recent generations has been to preserve the old or to add and replace in architectural styles compatible with the Town’s past.
Our walking tour will start on the banks of the bnaks of the Chester River; the commercial wharves are long gone but the buildings and streets their wealth spawned remain...