Historic Downtown Easton — the county seat of Talbot County. Established around early religious settlements and a court of law, Historic Downtown Easton is today a centerpiece of fine specialty shops, business and cultural activities, unique restaurants and architectural fascination. Tree-lined streets are graced with various period structures and remarkable homes, carefully preserved or restored. Because of its historical significance, Easton has earned distinction as the “Colonial Capital of the Eastern Shore” and was honored as #8 in the book, “The 100 Best Small Towns in America.”
Walking Tour of Downtown Easton
Start near the corner of Harrison Street and Mill Place.
1. HISTORIC TIDEWATER INN – 101 E. Dover St. A completely modern hotel built in 1949, it was enlarged in 1953 and has recently undergone extensive renovations. It is the “Pride of the Eastern Shore.”
2. THE BULLITT HOUSE – 102 E. Dover St. One of Easton’s oldest and most beautiful homes, it was built in 1801. It is now occupied by the Mid-Shore Community Foundation.
3. AVALON THEATRE – 42 E. Dover St. Constructed in 1921 during the heyday of silent films and Vaudeville entertainment. Over the course of its history, it has been the scene of three world premiers, including “The First Kiss,” starring Fay Wray and Gary Cooper, in 1928. The theater has gone through two major restorations: the first in 1936, when it was refinished in an art deco theme by the Schine Theater chain, and again 52 years later, when it was converted to a performing arts and community center. For more info. tel: 410-822-0345 or visit http://www.avalontheatre.com.
4. TALBOT COUNTY VISITORS CENTER – 11 S. Harrison St. The Office of Tourism provides visitors with county information for historic Easton and the waterfront villages of Oxford, St. Michaels and Tilghman Island. For more info. tel: 410-770-8000 or visit http://www.tourtalbot.org.
5. BARTLETT PEAR INN – 28 S. Harrison St. Significant for its architecture, it was built by Benjamin Stevens in 1790 and is one of Easton’s earliest three-bay brick buildings. The home was “modernized” with Victorian bay windows on the right side in the 1890s.
6. WATERFOWL BUILDING – 40 S. Harrison St. The old armory is now the headquarters of the Waterfowl Festival, Easton’s annual celebration of migratory birds and the hunting season, the second weekend in November. For more info. tel: 410-822-4567 or visit http://www.waterfowlfestival.org.
7. ACADEMY ART MUSEUM – 106 South St. Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the Academy Art Museum is a fine art museum founded in 1958. Providing national and regional exhibitions, performances, educational programs, and visual and performing arts classes for adults and children, the Museum also offers a vibrant concert and lecture series and an annual craft festival, CRAFT SHOW (the Eastern Shore’s largest juried fine craft show), featuring local and national artists and artisans demonstrating, exhibiting and selling their crafts. The Museum’s permanent collection consists of works on paper and contemporary works by American and European masters. For more info. tel: (410) 822-ARTS (2787) or visit http://www.art-academy.org.
8. CHRIST CHURCH – St. Peter’s Parish, 111 South Harrison St. The Parish was founded in 1692 with the present church built ca. 1840, of Port Deposit granite.
9. TALBOT HISTORICAL SOCIETY – Located in the heart of Easton’s historic district. Enjoy an evocative portrait of everyday life during earlier times when visiting the c. 18th and 19th century historic houses, all of which surround a Federal-style garden. For more info. tel: 410-822-0773 or visit http://www.talbothistoricalsociety.org. Tharpe Antiques and Decorative Arts is now located at 25 S. Washington St. Consignments accepted by appointment, please call 410-820-7525. Proceeds support THS.
10. ODD FELLOWS LODGE – At the corner of Washington and Dover streets stands a building with secrets. It was constructed in 1879 as the meeting hall for the Odd Fellows. Carved into the stone and placed into the stained glass are images and symbols that have meaning only for members. See if you can find the dove, linked rings and other symbols.
11. TALBOT COUNTY COURTHOUSE – Long known as the “East Capital” of Maryland. The present building was completed in 1794 on the site of the earlier one built in 1711. It has been remodeled several times.
11A. FREDERICK DOUGLASS STATUE – 11 N. Washington St. on the lawn of the Talbot County Courthouse. The statue honors Frederick Douglass in his birthplace, Talbot County, where the experiences in his youth ~ both positive and negative ~ helped form his character, intellect and determination. Also on the grounds is a memorial to the veterans who fought and died in the Vietnam War, and a monument “To the Talbot Boys,” commemorating the men from Talbot who fought for the Confederacy. The memorial for the Union soldiers was never built.
12. SHANNAHAN & WRIGHTSON HARDWARE BUILDING – 12 N. Washington St.- It is the oldest store in Easton. In 1791, Owen Kennard began work on a new brick building that changed hands several times throughout the years. Dates on the building show when additions were made in 1877, 1881 and 1889. The present front was completed in time for a grand opening on Dec. 7, 1941 – Pearl Harbor Day.
13. THE BRICK HOTEL – northwest corner of Washington and Federal streets. Built in 1812, it became the Eastern Shore’s leading hostelry. When court was in session, plaintiffs, defendants and lawyers all came to town and shared rooms in hotels such as this. Frederick Douglass stayed in the Brick Hotel when he came back after the Civil War and gave a speech in the courthouse. It is now The Prager Building.
14. THOMAS PERRIN SMITH HOUSE – 119 N. Washington St. Built in 1803, it was the early home of the newspaper from which the Star-Democrat grew. In 1911, the building was acquired by the Chesapeake Bay Yacht Club, which occupies it today.
15. ART DECO STORES – 13-25 Goldsborough Street. Although much of Easton looks Colonial or Victorian, the 20th century had its influences as well. This row of stores has distinctive 1920s-era white trim at the roofline. It is rumored that there was a speakeasy here during Prohibition.
16. FIRST MASONIC GRAND LODGE – 23 N. Harrison Street. The records of Coats Lodge of Masons in Easton show that five Masonic Lodges met in Talbot Court House (as Easton was then called) on July 31, 1783 to form the first Grand Lodge of Masons in Maryland. Although the building they first met in is gone, a plaque marks the spot today.
This completes your walking tour.
17. FOXLEY HALL – Built about 1795 at 24 N. Aurora St., Foxley Hall is one of the best-known of Easton’s Federal dwellings. Former home of Oswald Tilghman, great-grandson of Lt. Col. Tench Tilghman. (Private)
18. TRINITY EPISCOPAL CATHEDRAL – On “Cathedral Green,” Goldsborough St., a traditional Gothic design in granite. The interior is well worth a visit. All windows are stained glass, picturing New Testament scenes, and the altar cross of Greek type is unique.
19. INN AT 202 DOVER – Built in 1874, this Victorian-era mansion reflects many architectural styles. For years the building was known as the Wrightson House, thanks to its early 20th century owner, Charles T. Wrightson, one of the founders of the S. & W. canned food empire. Locally it is still referred to as Captain’s Watch due to its prominent balustraded widow’s walk. The Inn’s renovation in 2006 was acknowledged by the Maryland Historic Trust and the U.S. Dept. of the Interior.
20. TALBOT COUNTY FREE LIBRARY – Housed in an attractively remodeled building on West Street. For more info. tel: 410-822-1626 or visit http://www.tcfl.org.
21. U. of M. SHORE MEDICAL CENTER AT EASTON – Established in the early 1900s as the Memorial Hospital, now a member of University of Maryland Shore Regional Health System. For more info. tel: 410-822-100 or visit umshoreregional.org.
22. THIRD HAVEN MEETING HOUSE – (Quaker). Built 1682-84, this is the earliest documented building in MD and probably the oldest Quaker Meeting House in the U.S. William Penn and many other historical figures have worshiped here. In continuous use since it was built, today it is still home to an active Friends’ community. Visitors welcome; guided tour available on request. http://www.thirdhaven.org.
23. TALBOT COMMUNITY CENTER – The year-round activities offered at the community center range from ice hockey to figure skating, aerobics and curling. The Center is also host to many events throughout the year, such as antique, craft, boating and sportsman shows. For more info. tel: 410-770-8050 or visit http://www.talbotcountygov.com.
24. PICKERING CREEK – 400-acre farm and science education center featuring 100 acres of forest, a mile of shoreline, nature trails, low-ropes challenge course and canoe launch. Trails are open seven days a week from dawn till dusk. Canoes are free for members. For more info. tel: 410-822-4903 or visit http://www.pickeringcreek.org.
25. WYE GRIST MILL – The oldest working mill in Maryland (ca. 1682), the flour-producing “grist” mill has been lovingly preserved by The Friends of Wye Mill, and grinds flour to this day using two massive grindstones powered by a 26 horsepower overshot waterwheel. For more info. visit http://www.oldwyemill.org.
26. WYE ISLAND NATURAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT AREA – Located between the Wye River and the Wye East River, the area provides habitat for wintering waterfowl and native wildlife. There are 6 miles of trails that provide opportunities for hiking, birding and wildlife viewing. For more info. visit http://www.dnr.state.md.us/publiclands/eastern/wyeisland.asp.
27. OLD WYE CHURCH – Old Wye Church is one of the oldest active Anglican Communion parishes in Talbot County. Wye Chapel was built between 1718 and 1721 and opened for worship on October 18, 1721. For more info. visit http://www.wyeparish.org.
28. WHITE MARSH CHURCH – Only the ruins remain, but the churchyard contains the grave of the elder Robert Morris, who died July 22, 1750. The parish had a rector of the Church of England in 1690.