Welcome to Oxford, Maryland“For the yachtsman, the first glimpse of Oxford comes after rounding the Benoni (Choptank) Light. The long stretch of low-lying shoreline, dotted with homes, is climaxed when one rounds the marker at Town Point, where the Yacht Club is located. The pleasant Strand and the narrowing waters of Town Creek around the bend seem to beckon the weary boatman to the most peaceful of harbors. To enter Oxford at sunset, when the light is fading behind its sheltered coves and clustered masts, its silhouetted church steeples, is to experience a sense of timeless beauty and repose.” A Port of Entry Oxford, Maryland by Jane Foster Tucker 1992
Oxford Past and PresentAs you know, the original colonies started as large land grants to English gentry from the King and Queen of England. The Oxford area was part of a tract of over 3000 acres patented to Edward Lloyd around 1659. The geography and location were perfect for starting a port for shipping out tobacco that was grown in the area, and a safe harbor for fishermen. In 1694 an act was passed by the colonial government to establish Oxford as a Port of Entry. With this legislation, the town was officially laid out and became more prosperous. Around 1738, Robert Morris arrived as a factor for Foster Cunliffe and Sons of Liverpool. Robert Morris was very diligent, and grew the import/export business of Oxford as well as starting the first supply store. His son, Robert Morris Jr., was a financier of the American Revolution after his father’s death. The Robert Morris Inn on the corner of S. Morris Street and The Strand was originally the home of Robert Morris. What started as a modest house has been expanded over time. Trade increased after the Civil War when the Maryland Delaware Railroad reached Oxford, and shipping increased with the growing fleet of cargo schooners, skipjacks, and bugeyes on the bay. Throughout the early history of Oxford, watermen plied the waters of the Bay, and packing houses were established. Many ships and Bay craft were built along the shores of Town Creek.
Oxford is home to people seeking a quiet way of life, plus there are still some watermen working the bay. Marinas, boatyards, and waterfront homes are prevalent in Town Creek.
Some excerpts from Oxford Treasures Then and Now, by Douglas Hanks, Jr. aptly describe the rate of change in Oxford in his lifetime.
“When….my Grandfather was President of the Town Commissioners, he fought hard to bring something to Oxford which caused much controversy. He was successful in his efforts and electricity was introduced to town.”
“I remember when there were four grocery stores in Oxford, all offering home delivery performed by kids on their bicycles. I rode the train to Easton. The passenger train made its final run on August 7, 1949.”
“These scenes of yesterday become lost in time. The cows and other livestock no longer wander through town. Automobiles replaced horses and carriages, fancy yachts replaced clipper ships and steamboats, the trains are gone and watermen’s homes which once provided shelter for weather-beaten men of the sea now provide exclusive retirement homes for the more wealthy.”
Now Oxford is a place to see beautiful period homes and gardens, boatyards, and water views. In the spring, the flowers and trees are amazing; in summer, there are fresh breezes and shady places. Fall brings the migrating geese and other waterfowl, and Oxford at Christmas time is charming with the combination of old homes and Christmas lights.