Paula S. & Doug Reed
Cambridge Historic District, Wards I & III
Cambridge, Dorchester County
Wards I and III of the Cambridge Historic District are a large residential, commercial, and governmental area in the northwest section of the city. Roughly bounded by the Choptank River on the north, Gay and Race Streets on the east, Glasgow Street on the south and Glenburn Avenue on the west, the district consists of buildings from the late 18th through the mid 20th century, forming a rich architectural blend of styles and functions. Major architectural styles represented in the residential buildings are the Georgian, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, and American Foursquare. Much of the western part of the district is characterized by rows of modest adaptations from the Gothic Revival, Queen Anne, and Colonial Revival styles. Nearly all buildings are of frame or brick construction. Other significant architectural elements include small neighborhood shops, schools, and churches which convey cohesiveness of the district. The percentage of intrusive elements is small and widely scattered. Buildings in the district are generally in good condition, and many intact period outbuildings remain.
Wards I and III of the Cambridge Historic District largely grew and developed as a result of the food processing industry. The district portrays 18th, 19th, and 20th century periods of Cambridge's history, throughout which the district's importance in architecture, commerce as a trade center, and its contribution to Maryland's maritime history predominate. There are outstanding examples of residential, commercial, governmental, and church architecture including the Italian Villa style courthouse designed by Richard Upjohn in 1852 and a collection of turn of the century houses and commercial buildings designed by local artist J. Benjamin Brown. Also architecturally significant are the rhythmic rows of look-alike houses which were responsive to the need for housing for the packing and canning industry at the turn of the 20th century. Through Cambridge's development as one of Maryland's two port cities, this historic district which grew as a result of shipping and food processing industries relates the maritime heritage and importance of commerce to Cambridge and the surrounding area. Finally, as the county seat, with governmental buildings located in this historic district, its role as a political center is related as well as the district's distinctive position as being the home of five of Maryland's governors.