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Maryland's National Register Properties

Photo credit: Ward Bucher, 07/2006
Tidewater Inn
Inventory No.: T-1160
Date Listed: 11/2/2007
Location: 101 E. Dover Street, Easton, Talbot County
Category: Building
Period/Date of Construction: 1949, 1952, 1962
Architect/Builder: Architect: Clarence B. Litchfield; Site Architect: Frank. W. Bower, Jr.
Description: The Tidewater Inn is a 1949 Colonial Revival brick, hip-roofed, four-story hotel with flanking three-story wings and an addition on the north wing. Facing southwest towards the intersection of Harrison and East Dover Streets, the facade has a three-bay, projecting center gable on the main block, a full arcade at the first story, and is embellished with marble sills and a belt course. Construction started in 1947 and was completed in 1949 on the original portion of the hotel. An addition was constructed in 1953 on the north end of the north wing. The ground floor shops in the west wing were significantly altered when they were converted to a restaurant in 1968 and the adjacent space converted into the Decoy Bar in 1972. A small brick pavilion located in the northeast corner of the garden was added at an unknown date. The floor plan of the 1949 building is a flattened chevron shape. The center pavilion is four stories plus attic and cellar levels. The first floor, covered by an arcade, contains three doors with traceried round-arched fanlights. The second floor contains three 24-light triple-hung sash windows. Third and fourth floor windows have 8/8 sash. The tympanum of the gable of this facade contains a traceried elliptical fanlight. This pattern of fenestration is repeated in the three bays to the northwest and southeast of this projecting pavilion, but without the first-story fanlights. Eight-bay wings then extend to the east and north, three stories in height plus a cellar. The exterior has a pinkish face brick trimmed with Georgia White Cherokee marble window sills and a belt course at the second floor level. The rear window sills are limestone and the door sills are bluestone. A projecting brick belt course is located at the spring line of the arcade arches. The addition has brick spandrel panels below the first-floor windows on the west facade. A wood cornice is located at the eaves. The arcade has round arches with rubbed brick voussoirs. Wrought steel railings with decorative emblems, produced by local artisan Carroll Elder, are located on the three balconies at the second floor above the main entrance and along the terraces above the side arcades. The 1949 building is hip-roofed with Pennsylvania Bangor slate roofing, with the center pavilion having a nine-in-twelve pitch and the wings having a six-in-twelve pitch. The one-story portion and the 1953 addition have flat roofs with built-up roofing. Flashing, built-in gutters, and a large center roof vent are copper. There are five brick chimneys--one on each side of the center gable, one adjacent to each side of the rear of the main mass, and one near the northeast corner of the east wing. The cellar levels contain mechanical and service areas, the first floor contains the lobby, meeting rooms, restaurant and bar, and service areas, and the upper floors contain 139 guest rooms. Flooring in the lobby is Pennsylvania bluestone laid in a diagonal 24" by 24" grid in imitation of the Cloister at Sea Island, Georgia. The wood trim is Colonial Revival in style and includes a baseboard, chair rail, dentiled cornice, and arched double-architrave door casings with plinth block, spring block, and keystones. The fireplace has a marble surround, shouldered architrave, and paired brackets supporting the mantel. A 4' wide circular stair with a 5'6" inner radius connects the lobby to the second floor. The stair has turned balusters and newel posts, and a half-rail on the outside wall. Similar fine trim is located in the adjacent Crystal Room and the Rose Room on the east side of the lobby, plus shouldered architrave door surrounds, divided transom lights and paired three-panel mahogany doors with brass box locks. Some of the original trim also remains in the former Grille Room adjacent to the north side of the lobby. The Gold Room and its Anteroom on the north end of the building have heavier wood moldings with baseboard, chair rail, cornice, casings with plinth blocks around rectan Significance: The Tidewater Inn is historically significant for its association with Easton's mid-20th century development as the governmental, commercial, and social center of Talbot County on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Opened in 1949, its modern systems and amenities, combined with its feeling of manorial plantation hospitality, embodied post-war sentiments for progress and patriotism. The Inn served as the preeminent hostelry and community gathering place on the Eastern Shore during the time when new automobile-oriented transportation routes intensified the volume of visitors. The Inn derives additional significance for its association with the Civil Rights movement; by serving Civil Rights protesters in 1962, the Tidewater Inn set an example which led Talbot County hostelries to accept changing values toward public accommodation of African Americans. The Inn also is architecturally significant as a carefully conceived example of Colonial Revival architecture. The structure reflects the renewed sense of colonial heritage that prompted local decision-makers of the period to actively endorse Colonial Revival building design.


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