Jennifer K. Cosham
New Market Historic District
New Market, Frederick County
New Market is a small drovers’ town located on what was originally one of the major east-west routes from Baltimore and Frederick to the west. This road, formerly U.S. 40 or the National Pike (now MD 144), is the main street of the town. There are a number of cross streets, all designated as alleys on the original plat. Only one of these has been enlarged, this to accommodate the former alignment of MD 75, now Prospect Alley. Along Main Street, the houses are grouped closely together west of Prospect Alley. Many of these have common walls and the rest are generally separated by small side yards. The architectural character of the town is set by the Federal-style buildings which dominate its center. There was only one house built prior to the founding of the town, and it is of a late colonial style. There are Greek Revival buildings of the same small scale and proportions as their Federal counterparts. Most of the Victorian buildings are also the same in scale and proportion, an exception being the Ramsburg House. About 90% of the buildings in the historic district date from the 19th century, with the remaining 10% from the late 18th and 20th centuries. New Market contains a good collection of buildings representative of the several styles popular throughout its history. It is especially interesting owing to its rural situation. All of the houses, with the exception of the stone Prosser houses, are either of brick or frame construction. Regionally, the craftsmanship of the architecture is of fine quality, being among the best turned out by the country builders of that time.
The Town of New Market has been relatively unspoiled by the passage of time, remaining much as it was in its beginning, a small drover’s town built to service the many travelers going to and from the Baltimore markets. It is in appearance the quintessence of the c. 1800 small town in western central Maryland. It is well-preserved and shows more original fabric and a more representative development from the Federal into the Greek Revival and Victorian periods than other towns in the area. Its Federal style buildings are well-executed, showing the high level of craftsmanship attainable at the time. Western Maryland towns such as New Market are different from towns in the Tidewater region in several respects: (1) an economy based on overland commerce rather than on water transportation, (2) the linear layout along a single street instead of a pattern of several streets, and (3) the difference in building design and proportion in the two regions.