History and hospitality take center stage on Sunday, December 8 as the Oxford Community Center presents a taste of nostalgia with a holiday tour of Historic Homes and Inns. Six outstanding houses built between 1739 and 1955 represent many years of Oxford history and the height of maritime prosperity. Along with three historic inns and the John Wesley Church, they create a delightful afternoon of history, architecture, art, antiques and traditions. Tour sites, festively adorned for the holiday season, offer the warmth of Christmas and the spirit of Oxford. As a special treat, holiday refreshments will be served.
The Historic Homes and Inns Tour begins at 10 a.m. and closes at 4 p.m. To guide the path through the exquisitely decorated homes and inns, the Oxford Community Center will provide a program with a photograph and information on all 10-tour sites. Here is a glimpse of the once in a lifetime opportunity to visit privately owned historic homes, enjoy holiday sweets at historic inns and visit the recently restored John Wesley Church.
The Academy House
Home of Chuck McIntosh and Deborah Barbour
The Academy House, also known as the Bratt Mansion, is one of Oxford’s most prominent dwellings. Built around 1850, it was the Maryland Military Institute superintendent’s residence and remained in the Bratt family until 1965. The house is beautifully furnished with fine antiques and collectibles and the yard is surrounded by an Oxford white picket fence.
Abbey Rose, Innkeeper
It has been said that General Lee and his troops camped on the grounds of Combsberry during the Civil War. Combsberry is a beautiful English manor house, circa 1730.
This beautiful English manor house, circa 1730, is sited on a former tobacco plantation. It features a rare stair tower, comfortable furnishings and a fine water view. It has been said that General Lee and his troops camped on the grounds during the Civil War. The house is laid in all-header bond, which is very rare in Talbot County. Today, the inn offers luxurious accommodations to leisure and corporate travelers and serves as a venue for small weddings and special events.
The Henning House
Home of Madge Henning and Warren Davis
Built in 1995, this lovely home attracted the owners for its space design and beautiful finishes. It has an “old feel” and wonderful views of the boatyard across the street. Impressive German antiques are everywhere and the owners enjoy getting their hands dirty maintaining their gardens. Originally, there were two houses on the property, but are now attached to create a comfortable and charming atmosphere with warm wood floors throughout.
John Wesley Church
John Wesley Preservation Society
Methodist Episcopal abolitionists built the original church in 1838. While unclear what happened to the original building, in 1876 the existing church was constructed and in 1877 sold to the Oxford Colored Methodist Episcopal Church for $150. In the 1990s, the buildings were abandoned and continued to deteriorate until a grassroots effort to rehabilitate the church as a heritage site began in 2003. Over the past 10 years, much of the building and cemetery have undergone extensive restoration and the site has been archaeologically documented.
Robert Morris Inn
Mark Salter, Innkeeper
The very well known Robert Morris Inn, built prior to 1710, was purchased in 1730 by an English trading company for Robert Morris, Sr. Today the inn is a popular B&B destination for many East Coast residents and features a fine restaurant. Its construction includes hand-made nails, 14-inch square beams fastened with hand-hewn pegs and fireplaces built of brick made in England and used as ship ballast.
Ruffled Duck Inn
Joyce and Dennis Buttner, Innkeepers
Built in 1876, this inn has been a B&B for over three decades. Creating a very homey atmosphere, the three second-floor guest rooms have yachting themes, canopy beds or nautical appointments. The common room boasts original art throughout and an Art Deco style painted mural. Built in the American foursquare style, the home radiates 19th century charm.
Victorian Domestic Architecture
Home of David Urbani
This elegantly furnished home features Victorian domestic architecture with beautiful wood floors and 10-foot ceilings. It was restored several years ago by previous owners and is now being enjoyed by the current owner who moved to Oxford in 2012. Persian carpets and original art are prevalent throughout the house. The owner is a serious woodworker who has made 75 percent of the furniture.
Home of Brian and Julie Wells
This lovely home at 102 Tilghman Street is an 1880’s Waterman’s Cottage. It won the Best Exterior Award by This Old House magazine in 2011.
Christmas abounds with owner-created magnolia wreaths and trimmings at 102 Tilghman Street, an 1880’s Waterman’s Cottage. It survived a devastating chimney fire November 2005, was purchased in 2008, restored, and won the Best Exterior Award by This Old House magazine in 2011. This charming cottage originally consisted of a large room downstairs and a bedroom upstairs with “stomach windows.” Walk through this home, which features ‘reveals’ under plexiglass of a Dutchman’s joint, and balloon-style framing and an old signature in concrete.
William Seth Store
Home of David Poe and Connie Vaught
Featured on the cover of Oxford Treasures, Then and Now, written by Douglas Hanks, Jr., the Seth Store was built circa 1850 and used as a store for many years. In recent years, the home has been beautifully renovated with comfortable living spaces including three bedrooms, office, upstairs deck and a lovely enclosed waterside porch downstairs. Feel welcome stepping into this charming cottage and see the beautiful gardens and view of the Tred Avon River. Around the Christmas tree, see David’s first Lionel Train, “a treasure from his childhood,” says Connie Vaught. The gardens create a very private area and, in the spring, the owners enjoy the lovely roses and Crepe Myrtles situated throughout the yard.
Home of John and Wendy Pagenstecher
Step back in time when entering this elegant home built in the 1870s. Gracing the hall entry, visitors will see an unusual framed quilted piece crafted from the skirts that John’s great grandmother wore during the time of the Civil War. Visitors cannot help noticing the two beautiful tapestries created during the late 1800s. One features Peter the Great being saved by his mother and the other is of Catherine of Aragon with Cardinal Woolsey. Family portraits of the Pagenstecher family, and painted in the 1700s in Germany, grace the walls. John’s great grandfather brought the process of producing paper from pulp to the United States and founded the first papermill in New York State in 1887. Fine nautical art and models fill the living room while beautiful antiques enhance the décor throughout the home.
Purchase advance tickets for $25 by mailing a payment to the Oxford Community Center, PO Box 308, Oxford, Maryland 21654. Credit card purchases are accepted; call 410-226-5904. Tickets are available at the door and priced at $35. For additional information, contact the Oxford Community Center, a Mid-Shore treasure enriching lives since 1924. The Historic Homes and Inns Tour is supported by community partners: Fellows, Helfeinbein & Newnan, Avon-Dixon Agency and Hertrich Automotive. Proceeds benefit public programs at the Oxford Community Center.