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— Researching The Hill —

The Hill Community Project was prompted by Easton residents Carlene Phoenix and Priscilla Morris, along with members of Historic Easton, Inc., who were concerned with the condemnation and demolition of the town’s historic African American sites. Early research hinted at a rich and unexpected history dating back to the 18th century. On a walking tour in 2011, these concerned citizens introduced Dale Glenwood Green, a professor of architecture and historic preservation at Morgan State University, to the project. Recognizing his own family ties to these important sites, Professor Green took a leadership role and initiated The Hill Community Project the following year.

Professor Green assembled a team of researchers specializing in a range of fields to unearth the history and significance of The Hill Community. Researchers employed a transdisciplinary approach to uncovering the history and significance of The Hill Community, incorporating historiography, oral history, land records, genealogy, archaeology, and preservation to unearth the story of The Hill Community. 

Project members included the following: historic researchers Cynthia Schmidt, Alexander Toprac, Tracy Jenkins, and Mary Robinson; genealogist Lyndra Marshall; oral historians Dr. Angela Howell, Morgan State University, Dr. Clara Small, Salisbury University, Dr. Michelle Zachs, and Yvonne Freeman; historical advisers Dr. Debra Newnam Ham, Morgan State University, Dr. Lavonne Leslie Jackson, Howard University, and Dr. Alexa Cawley, Delaware State University; preservationists Elizabeth Beckley and Alexander Toprac; advisors Patrick Rogan and Eric Applegarth; and a team of historical archaeologists from the University of Maryland, College Park led by Dr. Mark Leone and Tracy Jenkins, with support from Benjamin Skolnik, Stefan Woelke, Kathryn Deeley, and Madeline Laub, as well as Morgan State University student Brittany Hutchison and University of Edinburgh student Liera Redondo. 

Community members and scholars on this project have led tours of The Hill Community since 2010, coinciding with The Hill Community Project. More than 1,500 people each year have been guided on tours through The Hill Community. The Talbot County Department of Economic Development and Tourism, directed by Cassandra Vanhooser, has been instrumental in the implementation and enhancement of the tours. 

The Talbot Historical Society provided many of the historic photographs that are used throughout this project. The writing and editing was completed by Tracy Jenkins, Cynthia Schmidt, and Cassandra Vanhooser. Patrick Rogan and Joanne Shipley provided direction on graphic design, while Brad Turner designed the website.

In addition to supporting the work of the project team, the Town of Easton is restoring a number of historic houses that will be sold to low- and moderate-income buyers. The goals for the project are twofold: to maintain the historical significance of each house, thus preserving the historical significance of The Hill Community, and to provide workforce housing that meets or exceeds minimum livability and modern energy efficiency standards. The Housing on The Hill initiative is an example of how a town can both invest in historic preservation and provide affordable homes for its citizens. 

— Acknowledgements —

Projects like these do not come to fruition without the extraordinary contributions of many talented people. 

The historical and archaeological research, outreach, and interpretation on The Hill Community Project was made possible by East End Neighborhood Association, Easton Utilities, Historic Easton, Inc., Morgan State University, the Talbot County Department of Economic Development and Tourism, and the University of Maryland, College Park, with support from the Stories of the Chesapeake Heritage Area and the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority. 

This project has been financed in part with State Funds from the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority, an instrument of the State of Maryland. However, the contents and opinions do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority

Stop #1


When you arrive at the corner of Harrison Street and South Lane, stop for a moment and note the church at the end of South Lane. Asbury Methodist Church is one of the landmarks on The Hill, a beacon of freedom for African Americans throughout the centuries. You’ll learn more about this church at Stop 10.

The survey stone marked XXIII that sits by the white fence at the corner of Harrison Street and South Lane was placed here in 1786 to mark the corner of Lot 23. This was the location of the Friends School which was operated by the Quakers.

The rose brick house you see at 28 South Harrison Street was considered one of Easton’s grandest homes when it was built in 1790. Temperance Skinner lived here with her son Walter while employed by the Hambleton family. Like Temperance, many African American women throughout Easton’s early history worked as domestics.

Temperance (1850) and her sister Ann Eliza (1843) were born to free parents and were raised with four other siblings near Bloomfield Road outside Easton. The Skinner family was associated with the Joseph Bartlett family, steadfast anti-slavery Quaker elders.

While neither Temperance nor Eliza could read or write in 1870, they both negotiated for employment and living quarters from Easton’s most prominent professional families. Both young women used these positions to better their families over time. Eliza retired to keeping her own house by 1880. You can find out more about her life at Stop 9. Walter became a successful Chicago maître d’hôtel and inherited real estate from his Aunt Eliza.