Oxford Museum, Oxford MD History

Oxford Day - Oxford, Maryland

A visit to the Oxford Museum becomes a valuable experience in understanding of the more than 325 years of Oxford history.

100 S. Morris Street
P.O. Box 131
Oxford, MD 21654

History - Oxford, Maryland
The water bound village of Oxford was once Maryland's largest port of call and is still an important center for boat building and yachting. Oxford is a protected harbor for watermen who harvest oysters, crabs, clams and fish.

Chartered back to Augustine Herman's 1673 map of Maryland and Virginia, Oxford is one of Maryland's oldest towns. Mandated in 1694 by Maryland legislation as the first and only port-of-entry on the Eastern Shore, the town gained significant prominence in colonial days and remained a booming port for over 75 years.
Once named Williamstadt under the reign of Dutch King William III of England. Merchants from London, Liverpool and Bristol established stores in Oxford to trade merchandise for tobacco. Second only to Annapolis, Oxford was recognized as port to the largest number of ships. Ships delivering goods to the port could number as high as seven at any given time. When going on board, one would find that the favored cargo included tobacco, hides, salt port, wheat and lumber.

The Most prominent merchant was Robert Morris, the father of the financier of the American Revolution. Arriving in Oxford in 1738, Morris acquired a fortune as chief factor for the Foster Cunliffe & Sons, a large Liverpool trading house. A part of Morris' residence is incorporated in the Robert Morris Inn. Oxford's trade was unfavorably affected by the War of Independence and the popularity and growth of Baltimore a a chief transshipment point for the Chesapeake Region.

The economy began to wane in the 1700s but came alive again in the mid-1800s. The construction of two churches, the Oxford Military Academy opened, the railroad terminus for the Maryland Delaware Railroad was built., two banks were erected and the first brick sidewalks were laid. Boat building skyrocketed in the late 1800's and two steamboat wharves serviced the rail and boat services.

During the early 1900s, Oxford slowed down again. As Oxford and the nation were affected by World War II, the only successful business left was boat building. Many of the residents left to seek employment in wartime industries.

While the economy was hard hit at times, Oxford maintained its charm and community unity. Today, the town is compared to a picture-perfect postcard. Its beauty is recognized by visitors, magazines and books and protected and preserved by its residents. Elegant historic homes frame the banks of the Tred Avon River while sailboats and yachts gently pass by well manicured landscapes. With approximately 800 residents, the town's charming and unique characteristics portray miniature American at its very best.

Come to Oxford, Maryland to enjoy the Chesapeake Bay area in a historic setting on the waterfront. Don't forget to visit the Oxford Museum, an Eastern Shore of Maryland attraction.

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