(This article marks the first in a series that will focus on historic farmhouses in Caroline, Dorchester and Talbot counties. These homes have been in the same family for decades, and are being given new life by the younger generation that now lives in them.)
in recent years, Maryland’s Eastern Shore has seen exponential population growth.
Brand new homes are popping up in droves, and what were once farm fields are now housing developments.
All the while, the stately farmhouses of years past become the quiet observers of yet more change.
Wars, droughts, the Great Depression, hurricanes, blizzards-these homes have seen it all.
While the “farmhouse decor aesthetic” is currently all the rage, actually residing in a historic farmhouse is a unique lifestyle, particularly if that house has been in one’s family for several generations.
Chase Andrews and Shelby Wright of East New Market can attest to this.
On their Adshead Farm, Andrews and Wright live in a farmhouse on 200 acres that was a former plantation established in 1663 known as Buckland Regulated.
Portions of the foundation are from the late 1700s, and a trip down into the cellar reveals hand-hewn beams and a fireplace that would have been used for cooking in the summer in an effort to help keep the house cool.
A house fire in 1882 changed the layout of the home, and it was rebuilt shortly after by Richard and Flora Stevens. Flora (née Nichols) hailed from the Webster family, known for their involvement in the railroad, canning, creamery, coal, paving and electric industries in East New Market.
Together they would raise four children on their farm while also establishing the East New Market Creamery.
The grand A-frame, 16-stall dairy barn and pump house, now long demolished, was no doubt a huge contributor of milk to that enterprise.
Richard was also one of the founding members of the Dorchester Steamboat Company before he died from liver cancer at the age of 46.
Heartbroken, Flora took the children with her to the Baltimore/Washington area and leased the house to tenant farmers.
The farm was purchased in 1959 by Lawrence and Thelma Adshead from one of Richard’s daughters, who had inherited it as part of her mother’s estate.
While still historically recorded as Buckland Regulated, the farm henceforth began doing business as Adshead Farms.
In 1962, Lawrence’s son Larry and his wife Kaye took ownership of the farm and raised their daughters Lori and Susan there while using it as both a working farm and an office/storage facility for their tile business.
The countertops, vanities, front porch, fireplace surrounds, and floors are a lasting testament to the quality tile work Larry and Kaye Adshead offered the Mid-Shore for many years.
Larry built a new home across the field, and from 1992 until 2020 the Adshead farmhouse was rented to tenants. Andrews’ mother, Susan, inherited the Adshead Farm following the death of her father. She offered him the opportunity to live there, and immediately a decision had to be made.
“We had to decide if we were either going to burn it down or do a total renovation,” Andrews said.
The house had suffered from years of termite damage, the interior had been neglected by tenants, and all the carpet had to be removed.
Andrews and Susan worked tirelessly to rebuild the house in 2020.
The windows and exterior doors were replaced, the beautiful stairway treads were refinished, the front porch was opened back up from where it had been enclosed, and many other improvements were made while being mindful of the historical integrity of the home.
In the process of making this house a home once more, Andrews and Wright have made quite a few interesting discoveries.
Tucked beneath the floorboards in the attic were pamphlets from a shoe shop, fragments of wallpaper, letterhead from the railroad company, and a notice from the Dorchester County Board of Education, among other treasures.
“Finding all that up there made me feel strange, like I was messing with someone’s stuff, because it had obviously been put there on purpose,” Andrews explained uneasily.
Then, while working the ground up behind the house for a vegetable garden, Andrews’ tractor clamored to a halt.
He had run upon the foundation to a long-gone carriage shed and would go on to find nails, a coal shovel, and toys.
Fragments of crocks and plates, plus entire jars and bottles, have also been unearthed and are showcased in their flowerbeds and on a picnic table.
When asked if they could think of any challenges they’ve experienced living in a historic home, Andrews and Wright quickly answered “Heating it!”. The baseboard heat can make it difficult to heat all 1,400 square feet.
The house does not have central air conditioning, so they make do with three window units.
While they both love the solid construction of their home, the thick walls come with a caveat.
“Our wifi can’t travel from room to room,” Andrews said with a laugh.
“A lot of people tried to tell us that this house was going to require so much upkeep, but newer houses have their issues, too,” Wright added.
Both look forward to acquiring cows and goats to go along with their flock of chickens and guineas so their future children can participate in 4-H.
This young couple is proud to carry on the legacy of their home and the values its former residents held so dear — faith, family, and farming.
“So many people these days don’t have a connection with farmland or their family history,” Andrews said. “I definitely appreciate that we will start a family in the house my family grew up in.”
Wright nodded in agreement. “We are homebodies, we prefer to be home. His aunt lives on one side of us, his cousin lives on the other side. This house gives us the space to have dinners, just [for the sake of having] dinners,” she added contentedly.