Orlando Ridout V
Stevensville Historic District
Stevensville, Queen Annes County
The Stevensville Historic District, comprises a cohesive group of houses, churches, commercial buildings, and a school, reflecting the development of this rural crossroads town from its founding in 1850 up to the Great Depression. The focus of the district is a small commercial area concentrated at the intersection of Locust Street and Love Point Road, featuring late-19th and early-20th century one- and two-story frame commercial buildings, mostly with gable facades and central entrances; several of the larger stores have attached storekeepers' residences. The Stevensville Bank, an early 20th century vernacular Classical building, is located within the commercial area, and the old Stevensville High School, built 1909 and raised to two stories in 1913, stands just west of "downtown." The Stevensville Historic District is primarily characterized by 2- and 2 1/2-story frame houses reflecting several vernacular and popular forms of the late 19th and early 20th century. The southern section, along Locust Street and Old Route 18, is distinguished by a group of two-story, three-bay frame houses of the 1875-1900 period, set close to the streets on small lots. The northern extension of the district along Love Point Road also includes several examples of this vernacular form, as well as a number of early 20th century foursquare and bungalow style dwellings, set back from the road on spacious parcels. Lowery's Hotel, a c. 1860 frame building with two-story galleries on both the front and rear elevations, marks the west side of Love Point Road. The Benton House, an eclectic Victorian cottage constructed in 1886 is located east of the school on Old Route 18. The district includes three churches: Christ Episcopal Church (1880), an outstanding Queen Anne style frame building; the Methodist Protestant Church, a Classical-influenced church with pedimented gable front, constructed in 1864-1865, the only 19th century brick building in the district, and Downes Memorial (Trinity) M. E. Church, a 1916-1917 vernacular Gothic structure. The district retains an exceptionally high level of integrity compared with other small towns of the period on Maryland's Eastern Shore; intrusions and incompatible uses are few, and alterations are generally confined to the application of modern synthetic siding on some of the houses, and storefront renovations on a few commercial buildings.
The Stevensville Historic District is significant for its architecture, and for its association with the development of transportation and commerce on Maryland's rural Eastern Shore during the latter half of the 19th century and first three decades of the 20th. The town was founded in 1850, and its first period of growth followed the establishment in 1866 of a steamboat terminal on the Chester River at nearby Love Point. This terminal opened the Chesapeake Bay shipping lines to local farmers and watermen, affording them access to Baltimore markets for their agricultural produce and seafood, and also enabled Stevensville merchants to offer goods and equipment "imported" from the Western Shore. The numerous houses and commercial buildings in the district which were constructed in the late 19th century reflect Stevensville's early development as a center of steamboat-related trade and commerce for Kent Island. In 1909, railroad service was instituted in Stevensville, linking two major transportation modes and initiating a second boom in construction, reflected in the early 20th century stores, bank, school, and foursquare and bungalow-type houses included in the district. The development of Stevensville was halted for practical purposes by the Great Depression, following which the town was bypassed by highway construction, as truck transport gained ascendancy over rail and water routes. The architecture of the Stevensville Historic District reflects the development of this rural crossroads town, comprising an exceptionally well-preserved collection of resources exemplifying late-19th to early-20th century trends in domestic, commercial, ecclesiastical, and educational building.