Paul Baker Touart
Pocomoke City Historic District
Pocomoke City, Worcester County
Pocomoke City is located along the south side of the Pocomoke River in southern Worcester County adjacent to its boundary with Somerset County. The river town is laid out in an uneven grid plan with the principal avenue, Market Street (Business US 13), oriented on a northwest/southeast axis. Principal road access to Pocomoke City is provided by a modern four-lane highway, US Route 13, which passes through the town limits on its northeastern side. The city's historic business district is clustered primarily between the Pocomoke River and Third Street with commercial blocks largely facing Market, Willow, and Front Streets and Clarke Avenue. The central business district of Pocomoke city is defined by an important collection of late-19th century and early-20th century commercial and public architecture, constituting the most significant array of Victorian, Colonial Revival, and Beaux-Arts influenced designs in any town in Worcester County. The oldest commercial buildings are located on the west side of Market Street between Front Street and Clarke Avenue. Several late-19th and early-20th century churches are concentrated in the area of Market Street. The riverfront, once lined with commercial and industrial activities, has shifted to recreational uses. A wharf for recreational boats lines the south shore, and a generously sized public park occupies the waterfront between Market Street and Bridge Street. Defining the city on its southwest side is the right-of-way of the former New York, Philadelphia, an Norfolk Railroad, near where several industrial and commercial firms still conduct business. The city's residential districts are located north, south, and west of Market Street. The historic housing stock of Pocomoke City ranges in age from the second quarter of the 19th century to the mid 20th century with the majority dating from 1870 to 1940. A few mid-19th century two-story side hall/parlor an center hall/single-pile plan dwellings with Greek inspired exterior finishes survive within the district, but massive fires in 1888 and 1922 cleared the oldest section of town of its earliest structures. The town is well represented by a host of third quarter of the 19th century dwellings inspired by the range of romantic revival styles that swept the county before and after the Civil War. Walnut Street between Second and Third streets is characterized by an especially distinctive collection of revival-style houses. A regional vernacular house form that occurs widely in Pocomoke City is the 2 1/2-story, three-bay, center hall plan house featuring a cross-gable facade, with a rear service wing. Also common are the L- or T-shaped Victorian houses illustrated in late-19th century popular literature. Many of the city's streets are lined with a variety of early-20th century popular house types, including bungalows, American Foursquares, Colonial Revival center hall plan dwellings, and 1 1/2-story Cape Cod types. A concentration of modest two-story, one- or two-bay frame houses with side gables or gable-front orientations occurs along several streets on the east and west sides of the district, initially erected as tenant housing for workers in the city's manufacturing concerns.
The Pocomoke City Historic District is historically significant for its association with the economic development of Maryland's Eastern Shore region. Named for the river on which the community grew, Pocomoke City developed during the 19th century and early 20th century into one of the principal commercial shipping and manufacturing centers on the lower end of the Delmarva peninsula, serving a large populace in Maryland as well as in adjacent Virginia. Due to the deep-water channel in the Pocomoke River and its proximity to the Chesapeake, the town was a center for local commerce and manufacturing until the second quarter of the 20th century. The commercial advantages of Pocomoke city were augmented with a connection to the peninsular railroad network by 1872. The district derives additional significance as an example of a type of prosperous river town that characterized the region during the period, which retains an exceptional collection of 19th and 20th century building forms. Pocomoke City's housing stock dating from this period is the largest and most diverse in Worcester County. Outstanding among the district's architectural resources are the late-19th century eclectic houses on Walnut Avenue, the greatest concentration of early-20th century bungalows and Foursquares in the county, and the largest surviving group of factory workers' housing on the lower Eastern Shore. The central business district constitutes the most significant array of Victorian, Colonial Revival, and Beaux-Arts influenced commercial and public architecture in Worcester County. The town was at the peak of its economic development between the years 1830 and 1946, during which time it achieved its existing architectural character. The district has a high degree of integrity, and clearly conveys a distinctive sense of time and place through its streetscapes, layout, and built resources.