Nicole A. Diehlman
Paw Paw Building
98 (old 68), North Main Street, Port Deposit, Cecil County
The Paw Paw Building was built in 1821 by the First Methodist Episcopal congregation of Port Deposit. This slightly rectangular building measures 36' x 40'. It is two stories in height and has a hip roof covered with asbestos shingles. Paw Paw is constructed of stone covered with plaster on both the interior and the exterior. The west facade of Paw Paw has a centrally located entrance. A 1914 picture of the building shows a raised platform porch which once extended from it with stairs leading down to a lower level on the south. This door is flanked on both sides by a pair of windows. The second story has two windows located on either side of the center of the building, as on the first story. All windows throughout the building are 6/6 sash. Every window had louvered shutters in 1914, and most of these are on the building site. Several of the shutters on the facade have strap hinges. Over the windows there are stone and wood lintels as well as splayed arches of stone. There is no conformity or pattern evident. Directly over the first floor door is an indented square space which could have housed a name or date plaque. The exterior is very plain as is the box cornice and the frieze board. The sills of the doors are granite. The rear wall of Paw Paw has no windows or doors. The northern wall has five windows, three on the first story and two on the second. Its southern counterpart has two paneled entrance doors located at each end with one window in the middle. On the second story there are two windows evenly separated. Inside, there was a box pulpit very high at the north end. Across the southern end was a gallery for the black members of the congregation, who had a separate entrance in the southeastern corner of the church. There were also separate entrances for the men and women. The women's entrance was on the north side of the building, at the western end of that wall. The men's entrance was on the front facade.
The Paw Paw building was used as a church from the time of its erection in 1821 until 1839 when a new church was built across the street. In the 1820s, it was once of the churches on the Cecil and Strasburg circuits. After 1839 it was used as a school and was called Heath of Health Academy from the name of the teacher. From 1852 to 1867 the building served as a meeting place for Harmony Lodge. In 1860 it was also known as the Odd Fellows Academy, which was a local school. In 1877 the Cornish family operated a grocery store and "dining salon" in the Paw Paw. In 1894 Snow's Battery held their reunion at the "Odd Fellows Hall." This group was a society of Civil War veterans from Port Deposit. Until recently, the building has been used as an apartment and also a recreation hall for the youth of the town. During the 1950s record hops and square dances were held on the first floor.