Snow Hill History

The Town of Snow Hill, located in Worcester County Maryland serves as the County Seat and traces its municipal history back 300+ years.  The Worcester County Courthouse is shown below.

Snow Hill was founded by English settlers from a division of the City of London named "Snow Hill."  The town received its first charter on the 26th of October 1686, and was made a Royal Port of entry in 1694 by William & Mary.

Prior to 1742, when Worcester County was carved out of Somerset County and Snow Hill was made the county seat - Snow Hill had been a trading post and the head of navigation on the Pocomoke River.

Trade was the "engine" that drove commerce in the town and the Pocomoke River was the "highway".  As the public came to trade, the residential population grew, businesses were established and churches and educational facilities were built.  Prior to the turn of the twentieth century, Snow Hill resting on the banks of a navigable river, with its booming commerce became the business and cultural center of Worcester County. 

It became a town of gracious living, where merchants, bankers, farmers and sea captains built fine homes showing off their prosperity.  Proof of this can be seen on Federal Street just one block from the downtown.  The street is lined on both sides with historic homes, some dating back to the eighteenth century. 

These home are fine specimens of the Federal Style, Greek Revival, Victorian Second Empire, Italianate, Queen Anne and Gothic Revival style architecture - much of which has been immaculately restored.  Snow Hill has the largest number of stately homes than any other community on the Lower Shore.  The Maryland Historical Trust has referred to the Town of Snow Hill as "one of the most historically in-tact towns in the state of Maryland."  Source: www.lowershore.net

A prime example of the homes in Snow Hill is "The Governor's House" located on Church Street and built for Governor John Walter Smith in 1889-1890.  The Smith House is one of the most sophisticated examples of a Queen Anne influenced house on Maryland's Eastern Shore and was designed by Baltimore architect Jackson C. Gott.  It is characterized by an asymmetrical plan, multiple roof lines, polygonal towers, a variety of window types and materials, and elaborate decorative detailing on the interior.


Of particular note is the extensive use of stained glass in the windows and the over-all grand scale of the building which has twenty rooms.  The dining room windows are particularly unusual as they depict various animals in the center panels.  The house was clearly built with entertainment in mind which is evident in the plan of the large public spaces which easily flow into each other.

John Walter Smith was Governor of Maryland from 1900-1904 and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives (1898-1900) and the U.S. Senate (1908-19920).  Smith died in 1925, and is buried in the Presbyterian cemetery.