Maryland’s Eastern Shore, as it’s called, is that part of the state located on the eastern side of Chesapeake Bay. Dotted with dozens of quaint towns, the eastern part of the state is far more rural than its western counterpart and far less dense, with less than 8% of the state’s population. Yet, it offers a tranquil alternative to the bustling cities such as Baltimore or the Washington, DC, area and is still close enough to commute to work. One of the most charming towns in this eastern part of the state is the city of Easton. The housing, such as the many Easton new homes, are more affordable and the neighborhoods much more tranquil than in the larger cities across the Bay. Centrally located and nearly equidistant from both Baltimore and Washington, DC, Easton, likely so named because of its geographic location as a seat of government on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, has a storied and long history.
Though buildings were constructed as early as the 1680s in the area now occupied by the town of Easton, the city’s formal beginning is dated November 4, 1710. This stems from an Act of the Assembly of the Province of Maryland to build a court house for Talbot County, in which Easton is located, to serve the sea merchants and the farmers nearby. In doing so, Easton can probably be considered a very early example of a planned community! It was a place that these settlers in the pre-Revolutionary colonies could come to do business and participate in government and the community. It wouldn’t be until March 12th, 1785, however, that the Maryland legislature passed an act to erect a town that they first called Talbot and designated as the Talbot county seat. Additional land was purchased, lots of one-half acre were surveyed, and streets were laid out and named. In 1788, the legislature changed the name from Talbot to Easton.
Due to the fact that Easton was a center of government for Talbot County, which was established in 1661, Easton’s history is deeply intertwined with that of the county. Named in honor of Lady Grace Talbot, who happened to be the sister of the second Lord Baltimore, the county’s profusion of natural resources were its main draw to the early English settlers who arrived in the 1630s and established tobacco plantations. Many of these early settlers were Quakers and Puritans seeking refuge from persecution in England, Scot and Irish indentured servants, and many free blacks, such as the inimitable social reformer and abolitionist, Frederick Douglass. The tobacco plantations were mostly replaced with wheat fields to feed the Revolutionary troops and eventually over the years, an even more varied selection of crops were planted. To this day, Talbot County supports a strong farming community as well as a healthy maritime industry.
Until 1906, Easton remained a village with little infrastructure, evidenced by the fact of unpaved streets and limited electrical capacity. That changed in 1906 when the Maryland Legislature authorized a new charter, incorporating Easton as a town with a mayor and council form of government. From that time on, Easton developed rapidly. In the next decade or so, streets were paved, a sewerage system constructed, a municipal water system installed, and a municipal electric plant and a gas plant began operations. Interestingly, given the proclivity for municipalities in the United States to privatize their public works, Easton is one of the few which owns and operates all of their public utilities. In addition, many of the town’s improvements have been financed through bond issues, yet Easton continues to maintain an excellent credit rating and low tax rate.
Rated by Livabilty.com as one of the country’s best small towns, Easton can boast of many of the cultural amenities found in much larger cities. In addition to its small town charm, it offers numerous gourmet dining spots, great shopping, extensive art galleries, plentiful golf courses, proximity to the beautiful Chesapeake Bay and a historic Town Center with architecture dating back to the seventeenth century. Easton offers much to enjoy and still remain a place with grand front porches, tall trees on shady streets, Little League baseball, 4th of July celebrations at the local VFW, and neighbors you know. When you’re ready to come explore Easton, be sure to visit any Easton new homes and relish all that Easton can provide.
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