Oxford is one of the oldest towns in Maryland. Although already settled for perhaps 20 years, Oxford marks the year 1683 as its official founding, for in that year Oxford was first named by the Maryland General Assembly as a seaport and was laid out as a town. In 1694, Oxford and a new town called Anne Arundel (now Annapolis) were selected the only ports of entry for the entire Maryland province. Until the American Revolution, Oxford enjoyed prominence as an international shipping center surrounded by wealthy tobacco plantations.
Today, Oxford is a charming tree-lined and waterbound village with a population of just over 700 and is still important in boat building and yachting. It has a protected harbor for watermen who harvest oysters, crabs, clams and fish, and for sailors from all over the Bay.
1. JOHN WESLEY METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH – Built on a tiny patch of land outside Oxford, this unassuming one-room building without a steeple and without indoor plumbing, once served as an important place of worship and gathering for generations of Talbot County African-Americans. It was an abolitionist and integrated church community in a county which was slave-holding since 1770. Talbot County was at the center of both legal manumission (the freeing of a slave) and Fugitive Slave Act enforcement. The African American community was 50% free and 50% enslaved. It was also the center of Union recruitment of slaves for the U.S. Colored Troops.
2. OXFORD CONSERVATION PARK – The park’s 86 acres stretch out on the southern side of state Route 333, near Boone Creek Road, and features walking trails, wetland viewing areas, native bird species, and open landscapes.
3. TENCH TILGHMAN MONUMENT – In the Oxford Cemetery the Revolutionary War hero’s body lies along with that of his widow. Lt. Col. Tench Tilghman, who was Gen. George Washington’s aide-de-camp, carried the message of Cornwallis’ surrender from Yorktown, VA, to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. Across the cove from the cemetery may be seen Plimhimmon, home of Tench Tilghman’s widow, Anna Maria Tilghman.
4. THE OXFORD COMMUNITY CENTER – This former, pillared brick schoolhouse was saved from the wrecking ball by the town residents. Now it is a gathering place for meetings, classes, lectures, and performances by the Tred Avon Players and has been recently renovated. Rentals available to groups and individuals. 410-226-5904 or visit oxfordcc.org.
5. THE COOPERATIVE OXFORD LABORATORY – U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Maryland Department of Natural Resources located here. 410-226-5193 or visit dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/oxford.
6. U.S. COAST GUARD STATION – 410-226-0580.
7. CHURCH OF THE HOLY TRINITY – Founded in 1851. Designed by esteemed British architect Richard Upton, co-founder of the American Institute of Architects. It features beautiful stained glass windows by the acclaimed Willet Studios of Philadelphia. 410-226-5134 or visit holytrinityoxfordmd.org
8. OXFORD TOWN PARK – Former site of the Oxford High School. Recent restoration of the beach as part of a “living shoreline project” created 2 terraced sitting walls, a protective groin and a sandy beach with native grasses which will stop further erosion and provide valuable aquatic habitat. A similar project has been completed adjacent to the ferry dock. A kayak launch site has also been located near the ferry dock.
9. OXFORD MUSEUM – Morris & Market Sts. Devoted to the preservation of artifacts and memories of Oxford, MD. Admission is free; donations gratefully accepted. For more info. and hours tel: 410-226-0191 or visit oxfordmuseum.org.
10. OXFORD LIBRARY – 101 Market St. Founded in 1939 and on its present site since 1950. Hours are Mon.-Sat., 10-4.
11. BRATT MANSION (ACADEMY HOUSE) – 205 N. Morris St. Served as quarters for officers of the Maryland Military Academy. Built about 1848. (Private residence)
12. BARNABY HOUSE – 212 N. Morris St. Built in 1770 by sea captain Richard Barnaby, this charming house contains original pine woodwork, corner fireplaces and an unusually lovely handmade staircase. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places. (Private residence)
13. THE GRAPEVINE HOUSE – 309 N. Morris St. The grapevine over the entrance arbor was brought from the Isle of Jersey in 1810 by Captain William Willis, who commanded the brig “Sarah and Louisa.” (Private residence)
14. THE ROBERT MORRIS INN – N. Morris St. & The Strand. Robert Morris was the father of Robert Morris, Jr., the “financier of the Revolution.” Built about 1710, part of the original house with a beautiful staircase is contained in the beautifully restored Inn, now open 7 days a week. Robert Morris, Jr. was one of only 2 Founding Fathers to sign the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the United States Constitution. 410-226-5111 or visit robertmorrisinn.com.
15. THE OXFORD CUSTOM HOUSE – N. Morris St. & The Strand. Built in 1976 as Oxford’s official Bicentennial project. It is a replica of the first Federal Custom House built by Jeremiah Banning, who was the first Federal Collector of Customs appointed by George Washington.
16. TRED AVON YACHT CLUB – N. Morris St. & The Strand. Founded in 1931. The present building, completed in 1991, replaced the original structure.
17. OXFORD-BELLEVUE FERRY – N. Morris St. & The Strand. Started in 1683, this is believed to be the oldest privately operated ferry in the United States. Its first keeper was Richard Royston, whom the Talbot County Court “pitcht upon” to run a ferry at an unusual subsidy of 2,500 pounds of tobacco. Service has been continuous since 1836, with power supplied by sail, sculling, rowing, steam, and modern diesel engine. Many now take the ride between Oxford and Bellevue for the scenic beauty.
18. BYEBERRY – On the grounds of Cutts & Case Boatyard. It faces Town Creek and is one of the oldest houses in the area. The date of construction is unknown, but it was standing in 1695. Originally, it was in the main business section but was moved to the present location about 1930. (Private residence)
19. CUTTS & CASE – 306 Tilghman St. World-renowned boatyard for classic yacht design, wooden boat construction and restoration using composite structures. Some have described Cutts & Case Shipyard as an American Nautical Treasure because it produces to the highest standards quality work equal to and in many ways surpassing the beautiful artisanship of former times.