A lovely Maryland Eastern Shore village works toward a shipshape future.

By Carolyn Spencer Brown
July 21, 2004
A lovely Maryland Eastern Shore village works toward a shipshape future.

When not roaming the Chesapeake Bay, Sultana, a gracious, two-masted sailing vessel, docks at itshome port in the marina at the foot of Chestertown, Maryland. Sultana's builders and designers used historicaldocumentation to painstakingly re-create the 18th-century schooner.This replica functions as both a pleasure-sailing craft fortourists and an educational tool for schoolkids.

Sultana represents far more than a deliciously recapturedslice of history. Chestertown, a charming Eastern Shore village onan arm of the bay, is home to 6,000 souls, bounded on one side bythe Chester River and otherwise surrounded by farm fields and evensmaller hamlets. Exquisitely restored Colonial homes line thebrick-paved sidewalks and oak-shaded streets.

Beyond its placid demeanor, Chestertown proclaims itself "thetown that beat Wal-Mart" for thwarting the discount retailer's planto build a store there. After the victory celebration, residentJoyce Huber Smith said, "It's one thing to beanti-Wal-Mart―but what do we stand for?" Sultana's creation helped define Chestertown's aim,representing a commitment to preserve its past while focusing onits present.

Robert Mooney, author of the novel Father of the Man and a Washington College professor, says,"There is conviviality in town that's an interesting symmetry of amonied older generation and the college. These are two very strongand actively vibrant parts of the community." Ultimately, he adds,"Chestertown is like the way 'Cheers' used to sell itself―thetown where everybody knows your name."

Native Anna Cole, proprietor of Scottie's Shoe Store (acombination footwear retailer, newsstand, and consignment shop)adds a different insight. "This is the friendliest town on earth,"she says, "and it's due to a combination of folks: locals, who aredown-to-earth and generous people, and folks who've escaped urbanlifestyles for a slower pace and are grateful for it."

Whichever you are, she adds, "you never feel like astranger."

(published 2004)