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Snow Hill, Maryland

Treasure of the Eastern Shore 

Courthouse - Snow Hill, MDShort History of Snow Hill

The Town of Snow Hill, located in Worcester County Maryland serves as the County Seat and traces its municipal history back 300+ years.

Snow Hill was founded by English settlers from a division of the City of London named "Snow Hill."  The town received its first charter on the 26th of October 1686, and was made a port of entry in 1694.

Prior to 1742, when Worcester County was carved out of Somerset County and Snow Hill was made the county seat - Snow Hill had been a trading post and the head of navigation on the Pocomoke River.

Trade was the "engine" that drove commerce in the town and the Pocomoke River was the "highway".  As the public came to trade, the residential population grew, businesses were established and churches and educational facilities were built.  Prior to the turn of the twentieth century, Snow Hill resting on the banks of a navigable river, with its booming commerce became the business and cultural center of Worcester County. 

Cherrystone - Federal Street - Snow Hill, MDIt became a town of gracious living, where merchants, bankers, farmers and sea captains built fine homes showing off their prosperity.  Proof of this can be seen on Federal Street just one block from the downtown.  The street is lined on both sides with historic homes, some dating back to the eighteenth century.  These home are fine specimens of the Federal Style, Greek Revival, Victorian Second Empire, Italianate, Queen Anne and Gothic Revival style architecture - much of which has been immaculately restored.  Snow Hill has the largest number of stately homes than any other community on the Lower Shore.  The Maryland Historical Trust has referred to the Town of Snow Hill as "one of the most historically in-tact towns in the state of Maryland."


Metropolis of Old Somerset

It is doubtful that any town in Maryland is better planned and , for its size, possesses more outstanding early houses - one dating back to the pre-Revolution period and several subsequent thereto.

"With its long, straight shady streets laid out at right angles, Snow Hill is peaceful, gracious, and self-conscious.  Thus it was that the town of Snow Hill, then in Old Somerset County, now in Worcester County (by subdivision in 1743) had its origin and founding in 1684 - 1686, and has had a consecutive history of life on the same site for two centuries and a half.  The town of Snow Hill became in reality the "metropolis" of Old Somerset."   - Clayton Torrence 1935

The development of Snow Hill differed from that of other towns on the Eastern Shore in three ways. 

First there does not seem to have been any significant lot accumulation by any individual beyond three or four lots, and certainly not the same eight or ten lot "town estates" found elsewhere.

Second, the variety of craft specialists owning Snow Hill lots was unusual.  Snow Hill lots were owned by merchants, innkeepers, and planters, as in other towns, but also at different times by shoemakers, barbers, surgeons, cabinet makers, joiners, blacksmiths and felt makers.  Because the majority of records were destroyed in the Courthouse fire of 1893, there is a possibility that many additional type crafters were also lot owners.

Third, Snow Hill showed an unusual intensity of development - indicated through its lot subdivision, in which a single legally distinguished was broken into two or more parts.  Fifteen of the thirty-eight identified lots for which conveyances exist were subdivided, comparatively high in relation to other Eastern Shore towns. 

Snow Hill became an attractive place for craft specialists, who became markedly successful not only because of the local population, but also due to the town's proximity to a navigable river which allowed both import and export of goods.  Successful craft specialists prospered and as a result were able to afford lots of their own and the ability to build remarkable dwellings on those lots.


The Great Fire of 1893

A fire destroyed most all the commercial area of Snow Hill including the Court House.  All of the buildings were rebuilt within the next two years, so the downtown area contains primarily historic buildings with architectural design of the late nineteenth century.

Stately Homes

Snow Hill has the largest inventory of stately homes of anywhere on the Lower Shore.  Beautifully maintained and remarkably restored, these homes with tree lined streets are worth the drive for any visitor who has an interest in historic architecture. 

Snow Hill and its immediate surrounding area have nine properties listed on the National Register Listings in Maryland.  They are:
All Hallows Church
George Washington Purnell House
Governor John Walter Smith House
James Martin House
Mansion House
Nassawango Iron Furnace
Nun's Green
Samuel Gunn House

Federal Street

Federal Street runs parallel to Market Street which was originally the start of the commercial district in Snow Hill.  Federal Street contains remarkable historic homes, each with unique design that encompasses Colonial and Victorian styles.

Famous Snow Hill Natives

Politicians, artists, clergyman, sports-stars ~ Snow Hill has many natives and residents that have been recorded in the annals of American History.  Find out more by visiting the Snow Hill Famous Natives page.

Snow Hill Today

Today, the Town of Snow Hill is a thriving community of over 2400 residents with a combination of residential, commercial, rural and historical districts.  Known as a visitor attraction on the Lower Shore, there's much to do when visiting Snow Hill.  For more information visit our Snow Hill Today page. 


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