Snow Hill History

The Worcester County Courthouse

The Town of Snow Hill, located in Worcester County, Maryland, serves as the County Seat and traces its municipal history back 300 years. 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, the town 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 increased, businesses grew, and churches and educational facilities developed. Resting on the banks of a navigable river and booming with commerce, the Snow Hill of the early 20th century became a town of gracious living where merchants, bankers, farmers and sea captains built fine homes. Proof of this can be seen on Federal Street just one block from the downtown, an avenue lined on both sides with historic homes, some dating back to the eighteenth century. Such homes vary in architectural style -- running the gamut from Federal Style, Greek Revival Victorian Second Empire, Italianate, Queen Anne and Gothic Revival -- but not in beauty. In fact, Snow Hill has the largest number of stately homes than any other community on the Lower Shore, and the Maryland Historical Trust referred to the town as "one of the most historically in-tact towns in the state."

The John Walter Smith "Governor's House"

A prime and sophisticated example of Snow Hill's historic architecture is "The Governor's House," located on Church Street and built for Governor John Walter Smith in 1889. The Queen Anne-style house was designed by Baltimore architect Jackson C. Gott and is characterized by an asymmetrical floor plan, multiple roof lines, polygonal towers, a variety of window types and materials, and elaborate detailing on the interior. Of particular note is the extensive use of stained glass in the windows and the grand scale of the house, 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, as evidenced by the floorplan's large rooms 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.