Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Curiosities of Cambridge

According to, while he was doing research for his novel "Chesapeake", James Michener called High Street in Cambridge, Maryland one of the most beautiful streets in America. It flows off the Choptank River and is chock full of history too. Here are just a few examples.

116 Maynadier House

In 1759, Dr. William Murray gave lots to several of his children, his daughter Mary along with her husband Rev. Daniel Maynadier built a gambrel gable-roof framed house on this property. In 1828, their heirs sold it to Henry and Charlotte Page. Henry Page built a small law office on the side yard.  It is one of the oldest remaining commercial buildings in Cambridge.  In 1841, the gambrel was replaced by Greek Revival. During his time living here, Henry Page challenged James Stewart to a duel over a political disagreement. Neither were injured. Page became a state representative for Maryland's 1st District and Stewart later became a judge and his neighbor. 👀

118 and 120 The Leonard House

Circa 1794, these two buildings were originally built as one when Dr. William Murray Robertson married his cousin Henrietta Murray. 🙌 In 1894, Captain James C. Leonard purchased the house and opened a hotel. It was a popular stop for steamboat travelers. In 1896, he split the house, moved 118 on logs 15 feet and transferred the house to his brother Captain Ivy L. Leonard. 

200 Goldsborough House

Constructed around 1790 for Charles Goldsborough and his first wife Elizabeth. This house is one of the finest examples of Federal Style on the Eastern Shore. Goldsborough graduated from the University of Penn in 1794, became a U. S. Congressman in 1805 and Maryland's last Federalist Governor in 1819. He was elected to the American Antiquarian Society in 1814, take a gander at some of the other notable members. He is buried in Cambridge at Christ Episcopal Church Cemetery. He was one of three representatives from Maryland opposed to the War of 1812.

203 Stewart House

A section of this house was built circa 1802 by Dr. John Murray as an office and drugstore. Murray's brother William Vans Murray was a trusted council of George Washington. Washington appointed William Murray as Minister Resident to Netherlands and he served as a member U. S. diplomatic team to France in 1799, appointed by John Adams. Even though he did not live in this house how could I leave out this connection. In 1848, James Stewart purchased the house from Dr. Murray's widow and after alterations including enlarging it, he moved in 1865. Do you remember that name Stewart? Henry Page at 116 High Street, probably never forgot it after the duel mentioned above. This home remained in the Stewart family until 1931.

204 LeCompte House

This house a federal period style was built by Charles K. Bryan in 1811. He served as a artillery captain during the War of 1812. In 1843, it was sold to Samuel Woodward LeCompte, a captain in the Navy.  This home remained in the LeCompte family for four generations. It has only slightly been modified with a wing in the rear in 1975.

205 Sulivane House

John Caille built this house in 1763 on land owned by Murray. The house retains much of its original appearance with some remodeling. Colonel Clement Sulivane, owned the house for 10 years, he served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War and he has been said to be the last officer out of Richmond during the burning of Mayo's Bridge. The Murray-Sulivane family occupoed this house for 147 years.

207 Bayly House

John Caille built this home around 1750 in Annapolis then had it shipped and rebuilt in Cambridge in 1760 near the courthouse. A new courthouse was built in 1772 and the house had to be moved again to this location. The house was mistakenly placed sideways and was unable to be turned to face the street. A later owner, Dr. Alexander Bayly, built the two story porch and a new front entry way adding a brick addition on to the original building. A rear smokehouse, slave quarters and necessary survive on the property.

209 Josiah Bayly House

This lot was purchased in 1796 from the Vestry of Great Choptank Parish and the gable roof frame was built soon after. The property stayed in the family until 1892.

211 Josiah Bayly Law Office

The law office was originally built in 1797 by Maryland State Attorney General
Josiah Bayly. This building is a 1998 reconstruction. Bayly's most famous client was Elizabeth Patterson, whose marriage to Jerome Bonaparte, was not accepted and annulled by his brother Napoleon. Despite his proclaimed love of Elizabeth he accepted his fate and married German princess to be crowned King of Westphalia. Elizabeth Patterson needed an annulment to render her son not to be declared illegitimate. Elizabeth as highly sought after in the company of the upper class in America and Europe. Dolly Madison was said to be one of her friends. You can read more of her story at Maryland Historical Society where there is an exhibit on view now, "Woman of Two Worlds."

Walking Tours and Ghost Tours are available April through October.


Historic Walking Tour Cambridge Maryland, the brochure was revised in 2015 by the West End Citizens Association, Inc. a full brochure of over 100 properties in Cambridge was available at the Dorchester County Office of Tourism. I would have been lost without this brochure and just thought I was driving past another charming well manicured street with southern charm. So much history has happened here.

Maryland State Archives (Biographical Series)

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