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Maryland's National Register Properties



Photo credit: MHT Files, n.d.
Rock Methodist Episcopal Church
Inventory No.: D-585
Other Name(s): Christ Rock United Methodist Church
Date Listed: 5/28/2014
Location: 2403 Church Creek Road (MD 16) (or 2403 Rock Drive), Cambridge, Dorchester County
Category: Building
Period/Date of Construction: 1875, c. 1889, 1910-11
Description: Rock Methodist Episcopal Church, currently known as Christ Rock United Methodist Church, stands on the south side of the intersection of Church Creek Road (MD 16) and Rock Drive, west of Cambridge. The single-story, Gothic-Revival frame church, erected in four periods of construction from 1875 to 1911, faces north with the gable roof oriented on a north-south axis. Supported on a brick pier foundation, the exterior is clad with plain weatherboard siding. Rising on the northeast corner of the church is a two-story pyramidal-roof entrance tower. The sides of the frame church are marked by a variety of pointed-arch window openings filled with colored glass. The interior of the church retains a very large percentage of its late 19th century architectural fabric intact. The sanctuary is entered through a small vestibule in the tower that is trimmed with a mixture of late 19th and early 20th century replacement beaded tongue-and-groove wainscoting. Fixed in the ceiling of the vestibule is a beaded board hatch that provides access to an unfinished tower interior. A pair of late 19th-century doors with a heavy ogee panel molding is framed by a bulls-eye block surround. These doors were cut down and reused from a former location. The outer, vertical edges of the doors were rounded so that they would swing on pivots. Evidence of the former hinge locations is clearly visible. The sanctuary has a balcony at its north end. Two blocks of Victorian pews are divided by a center aisle. Trimming of the perimeter of the sanctuary is vertical beaded board tongue-and-groove wainscoting with a plaster wall finish above. Fixed on each side wall is an interior brick stack serving Monogram oil-fired space heaters. The north end balcony is supported by square posts, and a turned baluster staircase rises to the upper level seating. The altar end of the sanctuary is defined by a semi-circular platform accented by a low, turned baluster railing. There are two tiers to the platform, and the original Victorian pulpit is backed by a decorative set of tongue-and-groove panels. The upper two panels have diagonally set tongue-and-groove boards. To each side of the pulpit platform are shallow four-panel doors leading to the Sunday School room. Fixed in the southwest corner of the Sunday School room is a narrow staircase leading to the choir loft. The choir loft has an open front marked by decorated posts and a low, turned baluster railing. Defining the south wall of the Sunday School room are two pointed arch colored glass windows flanking a center door. A cemetery surrounds the church on a wooded, 1-1/2 acre lot. Significance: Rock Methodist Episcopal Church is architecturally significant, as a representative example of church design endorsed by the Board of Church Extension of the Methodist Episcopal Church during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Its period of significance, 1875-1911, spans the period during which the church achieved its historic and current form and appearance. The building ceased to be used for religious services in the 1990s. Built in three principal stages, the timber frame, Gothic Revival style structure was erected initially in 1875 with successive modifications in 1889 and 1910-11. All three dates are recorded on a marble datestone fixed in the northwest corner foundation pier. With a confirmed architectural history that begins in 1875, it is one of the oldest surviving post-Civil War African-American churches on the lower Eastern Shore. Waves of modifications, consistent with the over-riding principles and recommendations of the Methodist Episcopal denomination nationally, affected and influenced the space and style changes that transformed the original gable-front frame church building. The sanctuary of this church has experienced only a few alterations since its enlargement and reworking between 1889 and 1911. A balcony, reached by a quarter turn staircase, dominates the north end interior while a raised platform altar, altar furniture, and choir loft above are principal features of the south end. The choir loft and Sunday School room below, along with the front corner tower, were part of the modifications to the church during the early 20th century.
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