Paul Baker Touart
Pemberton Drive (MD 301), Salisbury, Wicomico County
Pemberton Hall is a three-bay, 1 1/2-story, brick house with a gambrel roof. The brick is laid in Flemish bond, with glazed headers interspersed in the facade brickwork and on the gable ends. There are two basement windows on each facade with vertical bar grills, and an unmolded watertable on each elevation of the building. The central doors are double and have four panels in each door. The windows of each facade have 12/12 sash with 3-paneled shutters. Above the door and windows of the facades are flat gauged brick arches. The cornice consists of a plaster cove. On each facade there are hipped-roof dormers with 9/6 sash. Across each gable end there is a two-brick-wide belt course at cornice level and a short course above the entrance windows on the second story and a large window and door on the first story. Between the two latter openings are two diamonds of glazed brick. The date "1741" is scratched in a brick above the side door. The west gable has two six-pane casement windows on the second story. There is one six-pane casement window at the first floor level of the north end, north of the central basement entrance. The window is protected by a brick entry pent covered with a shingle roof. The interior survives with a large percentage of mid-18th century woodwork original to the house. The first floor was built on a three-room plan, while the second floor is divided into four chambers the open off a narrow passage that runs along the north side.
The story of Pemberton Hall's significance includes two charter members of the Society of the Cincinnati, a Governor of Maryland, a Colonel in the Maryland Militia, and an ardent Confederate sympathizer. The association of these men to the house is coupled with Pemberton Hall's 18th century Maryland architectural design and construction features and details. The Pemberton Hall tract, first patented in 1679 to William Stevens, was conveyed to Thomas Pemberton four years later. In 1726, Joseph Pemberton sold the land to Isaac Handy. The Handy and Pemberton families played significant roles in the affairs of the County. Isaac Handy (d. 1763), builder of Pemberton Hall in 1741, was a Justice of the Peace, a planter, and a Colonel in the Maryland Militia. He founded a shipping business as a result of servicing local planters through "Handy's Landing" (20th century Main Street Bridge in Salisbury). One of "builder" Isaac Handy's five sons, George Handy (1756-1820), was a charter member of the Society of the Cincinnati, albeit he never owned the Hall. He served in the Maryland Line in the Fifth Regiment as well as Lee's Dragoons in the American Revolution. After the "builder's" death the house became the property of George Handy's brother, Henry Handy. During the Civil War, the Hall was the home of Allison Parsons, a southern sympathizer. Despite the Federal troops encamped in Salisbury, Parsons insisted on firing a cannon upon the receipt of news of each Confederate victory. After issuing several ultimatums to Parsons, the U.S. Army soldiers raided Pemberton Hall in order to silence the cannon. However, Parsons had buried it before their arrival. In addition to the cannon firing which provoked the raid, Parsons used Pemberton Hall as a rendezvous for Eastern Shore Confederate sympathizers. Frances Handy, a granddaughter of "builder" Colonel Isaac Handy, eloped with Alexander Roxburg, a hero of the American Revolution (Major, Fourth Regiment, Maryland Line), charter member of the Society of the Cincinnati. William Handy (1802-1857), a descendant of Colonel Handy, and a Maryland State Legislator, became known for his support of free trade, state's rights, and John C. Calhoun's doctrine of nullification. In 1868, Elihu E. Jackson (1837-1907), Governor of Maryland from 1888-1892, with James Cannon, purchased Pemberton Hall at a trustee's sale, the building and land surrounding it being retained by Cannon. Cannon sold his interest in Pemberton Hall to Cadmus J. Taylor (1884) who willed the property to his son, James Ichabod Taylor. James Taylor's son, Rex A. Taylor, a Judge of the Wicomico County Circuit Court, and his brother, Seth Taylor, owned Pemberton Hall from 1931-1963, at which time the Foundation took it over. According to tradition, Loyalists gathered at Pemberton Hall during the American Revolution.