Orlando Ridout V
Captain John H. Ozmon Store
Corsica Street, Centreville, Queen Annes County
Captain John H. Ozmon's Store is a two-story brick building constructed c. 1880 into the side of a steep bank, with the store occupying the lower story and a dwelling on the second floor. The building evidently was constructed in two stages: the original section, closest to Corsica Creek, is three bays wide and two bays deep; this section remained unchanged when a two-bay-wide addition was made to the rear. The principal facade is the northwest, facing the creek; on the first floor, there is a large double door with a two-light transom in the left bay, with two large windows in the center and right bays. Iron bars cover the transom, and solid wooden shutters cover both windows. A cantilevered porch spans the second story, supported by chamfered stick-style brackets and enclosed with scrolled Victorian sawnwork balusters. A single door with a two-light transom in the right bay allows access to the porch from the second floor; there is a large 2/2 window in the left bay. Square posts with simple molded caps support the porch roof, which has a deep soffit with a massive bracketed cornice and a large ogee crown mold. All door and window openings on this facade have arched segmental lintels, and the brickwork, laid in seven-course bond, has been painted with a red wash and the joints stenciled in white lime. The interior of the ground level, where the store was located, remains relatively unchanged, and retains a large steel vault door with a combination lock and heavy handle, decorated with gold stenciling; above the door, in large gold block letters, is inscribed "John H. Ozmon." The walls are finished with narrow beaded wainscot and capped with a molded cornice.
Captain John H. Ozmon's Store is significant for its architecture, and for its association with Captain Ozmon, a prominent local merchant who built a considerable business transporting grain, lumber, and other merchandise by sailing schooner between Baltimore, Norfolk, and points on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay. Architecturally, this combined store-and-dwelling is of an unusual form, and is unique in Queen Anne's County; the principal facade, facing Corsica Creek, is dominated by a highly decorative cantilevered porch, and shows subtle refinement in the carefully painted and stenciled brickwork and arched window and door openings. Stenciled brickwork is unusual on the Eastern Shore, and its use on this building may reflect Captain Ozmon's frequent contact with Baltimore, where this detailing was common in the late-19th century waterfront communities of Fell's Point and Federal Hill. The building was probably constructed c. 1880, when Ozmon's fortunes reached their peak, and was apparently used to market a variety of goods included in the schooner cargoes. An inventory of the contents of the store included in the administration accounts of Ozmon's estate (d. 1902) suggests that his primary trade was carried out with watermen passing through Centreville Landing, rather than with the landed populace of the town: his stock ranged from spices to fishing hooks, and included mundane grocery items, one bag of gold dust, and a surprising amount and variety of tobacco products.