Coming up at Handsell – Sunday April 21, 2013 “Earth Mother Day”
12 Noon until 4 p.m.
in partnership with the Spocott Windmill Association
(Earth Day, Saturday April 2o, 2013 at Spocott)
and with a grant from the Heart of Chesapeake Heritage Areas. Go to our “Native American” page for all details!
The Nanticoke Historic Preservation Alliance welcomes you to the
“Restore Handsell” project!
The NHPA was formed in 2005 to purchase and restore one of Dorchester County, Maryland’s most interesting and intriguing historic stuctures, an old ivy-covered brick building located in the middle of what is known as “the Indiantown”. After just a little bit of research, we knew we were on to something BIG. As the layers of the story unfolded, through research in archives, deeds, Wills and historic family letters, a better yet not fully complete story emerged of native people, licensed Indian traders, English settlers, British attacks, merchant activity and structural devastation. Much of the Handsell story is STILL a mystery, but it seems each day brings a little more light to this amazing, yet previously unknown saga of the Steele family’s mark on the Eastern Shore.
The “old brick house” at Chicone, known as Handsell, located in the Indiantown north of Vienna, Dorchester County, Maryland, has been purchased by the Nanticoke Historic Preservation Alliance with a Preservation Easement from the Maryland Historic Trust. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2008, the site will be used to interpret the native American contact period with the English, the slave and later African American story and the life of all those who lived at Handsell.
A recent visitor to Handsell commented, “ The history of Handsell was very compelling. It survived all these years,
standing proud and beautiful. It sat there stoically all these years, just waiting to be saved. It is the most interesting site we visited in Dorchester County today.”
Jeni Jasuta, Philadelphia, PA
The Henry Steele family–do you know more than we do? Please contact us with historic information about the Steeles in Dorchester County at email@example.com
Handsell History 101, the Short Version:
In 1665, Thomas Taylor was granted 700 acres of Land called “Handsell” along the Nanticoke River in the location of Chicone Indian town. In 1704 this land was made part of an Indian reservation by an Act of the Maryland Assembly. In 1769 the properties were returned to the ownership of the English families who had possessed the land grants.
Handsell is one of the last remaining 18th c. brick dwelling houses in Dorchester Co. Originally a grand, two story Georgian home, a major event, possibly a fire at Handsell gutted much of the interior and weakened the rear exterior wall, causing a partial collapse of the structure.
After a fire, Handsell was rebuilt to the one and one-half story structure we see today. The interior woodwork is all original to the period of the rebuild in 1837 by John Shehee, a local farmer.
This brick dwelling house exhibits a unique façade with a protruding pavilion and Flemish bond brickwork, indicating the builder’s knowledge of contemporary design trends.
Handsell is now listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places!!!
Click on History of Handsell Land Grant in menu above for a more complete history.
WE WISH TO THANK THOSE WHO HAVE DONATED SERVICES TO
THE EFFORT TO RESTORE HANDSELL:
Canvasback Restaurant * Harman Septic Care * Halloway and Marvel, Accounting * John W. Tieder, Inc. * The Copy Shoppe * Michael Bourne, architectural historian * NRG Power Plant
David Harp, photography * Tom Pleasant of United Construction Co. * Gary Dodge of Dodge Doors * Robert Collison, attorney
You can reach us anytime with questions by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org