Maryland’s newest nonprofit, Still Pond Preservation Inc., nominated an unusual property—the Covington Store—for this year’s Endangered Maryland list.
The group was founded specifically to purchase and stabilize the Eastern Shore structure, a circa-1870 rural country store which includes a large second-floor apartment, original woodwork, and gaslight appliances.
The town of Still Pond itself is one of a few remaining Eastern Shore Victorian villages with its commercial center intact. The crossroads village, lined with 1840-1920 period dwellings, many well preserved, was added to the National Register two years ago; the store sits across a narrow street from the Harper (or Medders) Store, which was restored and placed on the National Register 25 years ago.
Says Walter Bowie, president of Still Pond Preservation, “The Covington Store is one of the most important structures in a town where the first women in Maryland voted [in 1908]. It is almost certain that these women shopped at this store, which is at the center and gateway to a unique architectural marvel.”
He continues, “The continuity of this building as a store and community center is crucial to keeping our identity and sense of place. It was the place where diverse members of the community met and interacted. Without it, the community takes on the pattern of a suburban neighborhood.”
Still Pond Preservation member Serge Pepper adds that the store contributes to the cultural importance of Still Pond's small commercial district because it “historically represents a culture that is unique in the post-Civil War period.
“Before the war, this part of the Eastern Shore was very visibly split between Union and Confederate sympathizers. One can only imagine what a difficult blend of citizens patronized Covington's Store at the war's conclusion: newly freed blacks, former Confederate soldiers, former slave owners, Underground Railroad members, new land owners from the North, members of the Ku Klux Klan, and, of course, locals who remained true to the Union.”
The five members of Still Pond Preservation are working on cleaning up and stabilizing the building, which was recently charred during a fire. The nonprofit obtained a one-year lease-to-buy permit for the property, which is owned by Sassafras River Realty.
Bowie hopes the Endangered Maryland listing will bring attention and donations to the store-restoration efforts.
For more information, visit www.stillpondmd.com.