Chestertown, Md. Named One of America’s "Dozen Distinctive Destinations"
Annual National Trust List Promotes Heritage Tourism
Washington, D.C. (March 7, 2007)—An 18th century jewel on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Chestertown dates to 1706, when it served as a thriving Mid-Atlantic port and prosperous shipbuilding and trading center. From its perch on the banks of the Chester River, the town today boasts a treasure trove of perfectly preserved 18th and 19th century homes that once belonged to Chestertown’s wealthy merchants. The historic buildings are the backdrop for visitors who enjoy ambling along red-brick sidewalks, peeking over garden walls and exploring antique shops, galleries, specialty stores and sidewalk cafes.
Among the town's finest historic buildings are the Hynson-Ringgold House, renowned for its unusual antler staircase and hip roof, and Wide Hall, a masterpiece of Georgian architecture built in 1769 by Thomas Smyth, Kent County's most prosperous merchant and an illustrious Revolutionary War figure. The "Custom House," dating from the 1740s and known for its intricate Flemish Bond brickwork, stands beside the public dock at the foot of High Street. Chestertown’s popular Tea Time House Tour, sponsored each October by the Historical Society of Kent County, offers visitors the chance to visit spectacular homes. During Memorial Day weekend, history comes to life at the annual Chestertown Tea Party, where re-enactors celebrate the events of May 23, 1774, when, as oral tradition has it, local residents boarded the brigantine Geddes and consigned its shipment of tea to the depths of the river. For outdoor enthusiasts, Chestertown offers kayaking and boating on the Chester River and hiking and biking along the Chesapeake coast.
For these reasons, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has named Chestertown, Md., to its 2007 list of America’s "Dozen Distinctive Destinations," an annual list of unique and well-preserved U.S. communities. Chestertown was selected from 63 destinations in 27 states that were nominated by individuals, preservation organizations and local communities.
In addition to Chestertown, 2007 "Distinctive Designations" selected by the Trust include Charlottesville, Va., Chatham, Mass., Durango, Colo., Ellensburg, Wash., Hillsborough, N.C., Little Rock, Ark., Mineral Point, Wis., Morgantown, W. Va., Providence, R.I., West Hollywood, Calif., and Woodstock, Ill.
In addition, the National Trust recognized the city of New Orleans for exemplary achievement in heritage tourism. The citation reads, “New Orleans is a richly unique, authentic, historic community that is reinventing itself through preservation-based revitalization. The National Trust salutes the unflagging spirit of the people of New Orleans.”
To date, there are 96 "Dozen Distinctive Destinations" located in 41 states throughout the country. To see a complete list, visit www.nationaltrust.org
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This story was published on March 8, 2007.