Road Trips

New Market on the National Road in Maryland

We spent maybe fifteen minutes in New Market, Maryland. We had a lot of ground to cover that day, you know. But New Market, the “antiques capital of Maryland,” is quite a destination for antiques tourists, and I’m sure they spend a great deal more time on a stop there than we did.

New Market, MD

New Market has been a place to stop for over 200 years. A road was built from Baltimore to Frederick in the mid-1700s to facilitate trade across Maryland. New Market was laid out along the road in 1792 and 1793, and the town’s first hotel was operating by 1799. Realizing the potential of this spot on the road, entrepreneurs opened other businesses that catered to the traveler, and the town flourished.

This part of the Baltimore and Frederick Road later became part of the National Road, and the National Road later became US 40. And then the late-20th-century era of straight, level, fast roads saw a new US 40 built to bypass little New Market. Undaunted, the town found its niche in antiques and so continues to do well.

Our trip brought us through New Market in early Spring, an advantage of which is that the bare trees do not obscure the 200-year-old buildings in photographs.

New Market, MD

This handsome building was a tavern in the town’s early days. The establishment it housed most recently had just permanently closed.

New Market, MD

This is the building attached to the sign in the first photo above. The sign says it was established by William Plummer, one of the town’s founders, in 1798.

New Market, MD

Many of the homes in New Market stand shoulder to shoulder. You don’t see stone houses like this in Indiana!

New Market, MD

A few houses stand on their own, but even those tend to have flat sides. Did they anticipate sharing walls with neighbors one day?

New Market, MD

The old Baltimore and Frederick Road, the old National Road, old US 40 – this is it, and this is why the town was built and thrived. I wonder what old road surfaces you’d find if you tore up the pavement. It’s not hard to imagine this scene in a day without modern infrastructure like the fire hydrant and the utility poles, when the road was surfaced with macadam, and when travelers drove wagons instead of SUVs.

New Market, MD

New Market has a tie to Indiana. William Plummer Benton – was he a relative of town founder William Plummer? – was born here, but moved to Richmond in Wayne County, Indiana, as a boy. He went away to fight in the Mexican-American War but returned to Richmond and became a lawyer. When the Civil War began, he raised the first company of troops from Wayne County. He led companies in many prominent battles and rose to the rank of major general before the war ended.

I’ve driven the National Road from its beginning in Baltimore, MD to its end in Vandaila, IL. To read everything I’ve ever written about it, click here.

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5 thoughts on “New Market on the National Road in Maryland

  1. Lone Primate says:

    Interesting. I’ve seen that kind of thing in places in parts of Toronto, up to about the 1920s (modern townhouses notwithstanding). Many surveyors divided properties into lots just sixteen feet wide, or so, and in places the houses entirely span the width of the lot. My friend P-Doug lives in an older place and when his neighbour tore down the next house to build a new one, his eaves actually overhung the property line and he had to get written permission from my friends to do that.

    But at least there’s about 2′ of laneway between those homes. Look at the ones in your shots. I’ve always wondered how anyone manages to build with NO space between houses, especially if they’re built at different times by different people. Must be a whole different set of skills from the usual way.

    • First time I ever saw lots of houses attached to other houses like this was in … Toronto. Mississauga, actually. They were all newer builds. The residents had front yards and back yards but no side yards. I always wondered what they did when it was time to mow the grass — drag the mower through the house to get both front and back?

      • Lone Primate says:

        Or keep the front immaculate and pray no one sees the back yard… :) Given over to raccoons!

  2. akfractals says:

    My 140 yr old house is very close to the neighboring houses, with overhanging roofs. It is not fun and I wouldn’t recommend it.

    • When I lived in Terre Haute, my one neighbor’s house was 10 feet away. My window pretty much looked into theirs. We both kept them curtained at all times. I didn’t enjoy that.

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