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African-American Stores
in Maryland

Dawson Street Store
Bellevue
Talbot County

Bucktown Village Store
Cambridge
Dorchester County

 

 

Village stores have traditionally served as a gathering spot for townspeople. People went not only to buy goods, but to catch up on the latest news in town. Many stores contained benches and chairs to provide seating for the customers. Some village stores even served as the local post office. While the stores may have varied from town to town, they all provided goods for the community and served as the town communication center.

Both of the stores documented in this study are located on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, the Bucktown Village Store in Bucktown, Dorchester County and the Dawson Street Store in Bellevue, Talbot County. The stores are of a similar form, one and one-half story, but they have very different floor plans. The Bucktown Village Store is a larger building with a two-room plan, while the Dawson Street Store is a one-room plan. Both buildings are covered in horizontal board siding, but each building has its own style of decorative finish. The Dawson Street Store contains a bay window and features a cupola and fish scale shingles on the roof. The Bucktown Village Store has a porch supported by chamfered posts, and the returning cornice provides a decorative touch to complement the horizontal board siding.

In each case the setting is just as important in telling the building’s story as the architectural features. Bucktown Village Store was built and owned by whites and is located at a rural crossroads. The Bucktown Village Store has been included in this project due to its possible connection with Harriet Tubman. The Dawson Street Store, believed to be built and owned by African-Americans, was located in the predominantly African-American watermen’s town of Bellevue
The similarities and differences in the two buildings and the surrounding landscapes provide insight into the two communities that used and frequented them. While each building tells its own story, it is important to see how they fit together to provide a bigger picture of the lives of African-Americans in Maryland.

 

 
Underground Railroad
National Park Service
Network to Freedom