Historic Sites and Museums

Wicomico heritage museum

Discover Eastern Shore heritage. Wicomico County’s rich heritage offers many avenues of exploration. The area that would become Wicomico County has a long history that is deeply rooted in the Eastern Shore culture of today. John Smith, in his exploration of the Chesapeake Bay touched land in present-day Wicomico in 1608. It was not until the mid-17th-century though, that Europeans began to settle along the Wicomico and Nanticoke Rivers in larger numbers.

By 1732 the town of Salisbury, Wicomico’s current county seat, was established on paper at the head of the Wicomico River. During the Civil War, Salisbury braved several tough years as Union troops occupied the town. At this same time, the town was ravaged by fire and almost destroyed. Despite these difficulties and a second disastrous fire in 1886, Salisbury emerged as the county’s major town and the county as a whole continued to grow. As the rest of the country faced poverty from the onslaught of the Great Depression, Salisbury continued to attract new business growth in commerce and industry. In 1951 the opening of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge brought additional growth, tourists, and non-agricultural business investment to Wicomico County.

Adkins Museum and Historical Complex

106 Bratton Street | Mardela Springs, MD 21837

In Mardela Springs, the Adkins Historical Museum & Complex offers visitors a tour of 8 historic buildings and the gravestones of a revolutionary war patriot and his wife. Visitors can explore over 800 mid-19th century artifacts on display in the Brattan-Taylor Village Store or one of the rotating exhibits housed in the Odd Fellows Lodge Hall. Also on site is a livery stable circa 1905, two small contractors sheds, the Gravenor-English one room school house and the Youngs Purchase Farmhouse built in 1724. The largest building on the complex, served as a warehouse for a local cannery during the early 20th century. Visitors are able to tour the warehouse, which was restored in 1991 and now houses a unique collection of antique furniture and rare books. The first floor of the warehouse hosts Barren Creek Clocks, a unique manufacturer of wooden geared clocks.

Barren Creek Springhouse

413 Main Street | Mardela Springs, MD 21837

Near the entrance to the restored Barren Creek Springs Presbyterian Church is the historic Spring House. The springhouse was on the property of the original Barren Creek Springs Hotel, which served as a haven for travelers from the late 18th century until it burned in 1913. Travelers came to the area to take the health-giving waters' offered by the spring. Although visitors can no longer partake of the springs' waters, a visit to the Springhouse does offer a brief rest harkening back to a quieter, less hectic lifestyle.

Barren Creek Springs Heritage Center and Museum

413 Main Street | Mardela Springs, MD 21837

In the Barren Creek Heritage Museum, more than thirty permanent exhibits tell the story of the Barren Creek area & the town of Mardela Springs from 1660s to ca. 1950. Visitors can stroll through 300 years of history, following the stories of the area's earliest settlers from the Puckamee (Nanticoke) Indians to the tobacco planters, grist millers, enterprising shipbuilders, hotel keepers, spa operators, free black pioneers and spirital leaders who eventually made this area along the banks of the Nanticoke River home. Other facets of lower Eastern Shore life are explored in exhibits focusing on textiles, banking, early 20th century kitchens and parlors, sports and leisure, spirituality. The museum also features a Hall of Heroes, which honors local men and women who have served in the military as well as smaller exhibits on some of Mardela's nearby communities.

Barren Creek Springs Presbyterian Church

413 Main Street | Mardela Springs, MD 21837

In 1834 Joshua Brattan, prominent farmer and landowner of Barren Creek Springs gave an acre of land, for "the love of literature and Religion," to a board of Presbyterian trustees to establish a school, cemetery and church. In 1842 the congregation built a church building, which also housed the town's only school. The church was restored in 1997 with many of its original features still in tact. An original "Mason-Dixon" marker stone can be found on the church grounds. The stone, donated in 2005, is marked on one side with an M and the other with a P for Maryland and Pennsylvania.

Charles H. Chipman Cultural Center

323 Broad Street | Salisbury, MD 21801

Built in 1838, the Chipman Center is the oldest standing African-American church on Delmarva. It occupies the site of a former open meadow where slaves gathered for worship. A plain one-story structure was built in 1838 for religious services and a day school. The church was identified as the African Methodist Church and informally known as the "Hill Church" or "Church on the Hill." The building was eventually expanded, and incorporated in 1876. Eventually the property was abandoned as a church, but educators Charles and Jeanette Chipman purchased the property and deeded it to the Newtown Association. Currently, visitors can enjoy the varierty of educational displays and cultural events highlighting our area's rich African-American Heritage.

Double Mills Grist Mill

25815 Grist Mill Drive | Mardela Springs, MD 21837

Of the scores of mills on the Lower Eastern Shore of Maryland the only one remaining is the old grist mill. A private non-profit group has been formed to preserve and restore it to working condition, and to restore a general store beside it as a living history site. Preservation is ongoing and the mill is not yet open for tours but visitors are welcome to contact the group for a private visit.

Edward H. Nabb Research Center of Delmarva History & Culture

1101 Camden Avenue | Salisbury, MD 21801

The Nabb Research Center collects and preserves archival material, artifacts, books - including family history, maps, and microfilm pertaining to the Delmarva Peninsula. Delmarva includes the Eastern Shore of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia and was a gateway from the Chesapeake Bay region in the earliest days to the bounty and promise of America.

Glass Hill School

7915 Maple Street | Pittsville, MD 21850

Listed in an 1877 atlas, Glass Hill School was originally located on Glass Hill Road in Parsonsburg, Maryland. The African-American school was eventually abandoned and scheduled for demolition, but was preserved by Jim Jackson who purchased the school and had it relocated to Pittsville, Maryland. The school has since been restored and now serves as a shop called Schoolhouse Collectibles.

Green Hill Church

Green Hill Church Road | Quantico, MD 21856

When Stepney Parish was established in 1711 as the governing basis of the Anglican Church in the lower Eastern Shore, a church had to be constructed. The site chosen was the town-that-never-was, Green Hill. On the banks of the Wicomico River, the church remains little changed from its colonial beginnings. After the Revolutionary War when the Anglican churches were reorganized as the Episcopalian Church, the official name of this church was St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church. Services are held here once each year, but the church can also be visited by appointment.

Holloway Hall

1101 Camden Avenue | Salisbury, MD 21801

The Salisbury State Normal School was founded in 1925. The school was housed in Holloway Hall, named for the first principal, William Holloway. Until the 1950s this building was the only building on campus--classrooms, library, dining hall, dormitory rooms, offices all were in this one edifice. The college continued to grow, eventually becoming Salisbury State University and later Salisbury University. It is now a nationally recognized liberal arts institution that continues to flourish today. Holloway Hall's original Great Room and Auditorium have been little changed since it was built.

Passerdyke Cottage

3474 Allen Road | Allen, MD 21801

This 19th century building located in the heart of Allen, serves as the headquarters for the Allen Historical Society. Archival and exhibition space can be found on the second floor. Exhibits include vintage photographs and memoribilia of village life during the 19th and 20th centuries focusing on education, religion, domestic life and agriculture. Allen's African-American history can also be explored through an exhibit beginning with slavery in the area and continuing to include the foundation of a free black community along Upper Ferry Road. Please call for museum hours and information on Allen's many other historical sites of interest.

Pemberton Historical Park

5561 Plantation Lane | Salisbury, MD 21801

Unique historic park that offers more than 5 miles of nature hiking trails.

Poplar Hill Mansion

117 Elizabeth Street | Salisbury, MD 21801

This beautiful Federal period manor house was built circa 1800 and is Salisbury Maryland's oldest home. Now operated as a museum, the home was originally built by Major Levin Handy on a part of the tract called Pemberton's Good Will. Luckily, this house was far enough removed from the great fires in the center of town during the mid 19th century that it escaped destruction. The two-story, five-bay frame house is richly decorated dwelling retaining a high percentage of its original woodwork. The bold block cornices, intricate fanlight entrance and Palladian style windows are prominent exterior features. The interior spaces are distinguished by a wealth of neoclassical carved woodwork and has recently been restored to its original color scheme and furnished true to its period.

The Mansion is available as a venue for weddings and other special events.

Rockawalkin School

5561 Plantation Lane | Salisbury, MD 21801

This one-room schoolhouse was built circa 1872 for the community of Rockawalkin. It held grades one through 7, and later served grades one through 5. It was abandoned as a school in 1939 and moved to its current location on Pemberton Drive in 1973. The schoolhouse has been preserved as a tribute to the early beginnings of public education in the state. The school has been furnished as it would have been in those early years and is operated by the Wicomico Historical Society.

Rosenwald School

Old School Road | Sharptown, MD 21861

Between 1918 and 1932 Julius Rosenwald and Booker T. Washington constructed several African-American schools throughout the rural South. Out of 5,300+ Rosenwald Schools built, only 10% of these structures are still in existence. In 2002 the National Trush for Historic Preservation included Rosenwald Schools to its list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. The Rosenwald School in San Domingo, was built in 1919 and was among the first of the Rosenwald Schools constructed. The school remains in use as a community and cultural center for the community of San Domingo.

Sharptown Historical Museum

408 Main Street | Salisbury, MD 21801

Sharptown, Maryland was a major shipbuilding center on the Lower Shore from the mid-1800s through World War I. The Museum tells the story of this once busy town, including exhibits about its popular tradition, the Fireman's Carnival, the last surviving on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

Whitehaven & Upper Ferry

Route 352 | Whitehaven, MD 21802

Take a ride into history when you cross the Wicomico River on this three-car ferry. The first ferry here began operating in 1688 and the present ferry is thought to be the oldest continuously operating in the United States. The ferry brings travels to or from Salisbury, MD from the quaint town of Whitehaven across the Wicomico River. Whitehaven remains little changed since colonial times. The hotel near the ferry, Whitehaven Hotel, began life as a private home in 1810 but became a hotel catering to travelers in 1877. Local legend says this is where Edna Ferber, inspired by the stories of the salesmen who traveled the Wicomico River wrote "Show Boat" Nearby is Upper Ferry, a smaller two-car ferry used by hundreds of area residents. Please call for ferry schedule.

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