Maryland House & Garden Pilgrimage in Dorchester

MD-House tour 3

Huntington Residence, East New Market

BALTIMORE – The annual Maryland House & Garden Pilgrimage (MHGP) returns for five weekends this spring from May 3 through May 30. A longstanding Maryland tradition, the Pilgrimage provides access to some of Maryland’s most noteworthy private properties and enables residents to see their home state with fresh eyes.

The 2015 tour includes 44 private homes, gardens, farms, wineries, churches and historic sites in five counties. They are St. Mary’s County (May 3); Dorchester County (May 9); Anne Arundel County (May 16); Baltimore City/Roland Park (May 17) and Washington County (May 30). Advance tickets for each tour are $30 per person ($35 if purchasing day-of). Catered lunches will be available on all tours. Purchase tickets and get more information at or 410-821-6933.

The annual spring tours are a central component of MHGP’s efforts to cultivate awareness of Maryland’s rich architectural and cultural heritage. Every year, proceeds from the tour support designated preservation projects in each host community. To date, the Pilgrimage has raised more than $1 million for the preservation and restoration of architecturally significant properties throughout the State of Maryland while entertaining and educating thousands of attendees.
Here are some of the stops featured on the tour through Dorchester County this year:

MD-House tour 1

Dorchester Banner/Paul Clipper
Dorchester County Visitor Center

Stop 1 Dorchester County Visitor Center
With its huge sail soaring more than 100 feet in the air, the Dorchester County Visitor Center is an Eastern Shore landmark on the shores of the Choptank River in Cambridge. In addition to free visitor information and friendly staff members who are happy to answer your questions, the Visitor Center includes two levels of exhibits about Dorchester County and the area.

The Visitor Center and its park also offer beautiful riverfront views, restrooms, a mile-long boardwalk, and a playground. Tickets, tour information and restrooms are available in the Visitor Center. The Visitor Center is open from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, and is located at 2 Rosehill Place in Cambridge, at the foot of the Choptank River bridge.

MD-House tour 2

Chicone Village Longhouse at Handsell

Stop 2 Chicone Village Longhouse and Garden at Handsell
Step back to the 1500s before the English arrive and you are in the Chicone Village at Handsell. Located on the site of the pre-historic native village encountered by John Smith in 1608, this thatch and reed lodge home is a functional replica of those used by the Nanticoke people on the Eastern Shore.

Built from material harvested from county fields and forests, it was constructed by volunteers who logged in 2,500 hours working on the project. Accompanying the longhouse is a native garden surrounded by a “waddle” fence, as well as a new work shelter currently under construction. You will be greeted by living history interpreter Daniel Firehawk Abbott when you arrive at Handsell, a National Register Historic Site.

Stop 3 Huntington Residence
The German Salem Evangelical Church in East New Market (pictured on front page) has been converted to a charming residence in this historic village. Built in 1899, the church is the oldest of its denomination on the Eastern Shore. In the 1920s the church was deconsecrated and the building was used for several purposes then finally abandoned. In 1990, the building was restored as a private home under the supervision of Walter Schamu, architect, of Baltimore. The original gothic woodwork was discovered in the tower. Although the building was modified to function as a home, the original pews, wainscoting and simple stained glass windows remain.

Today the church is a private home, which houses the owners’ collections of folk art, including regional decoys, church birdhouses and landscape art, with an emphasis on work by Eastern Shore artists. The building is part of the East New Market National Register Historic District.

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