Adkins Complex History


Brattan-Taylor- Calloway Store

This store was built by Joshua Brattan sometime prior to his death in 1838 and at that time was one story, only 16’ x 22’. Unlike most buildings in town it was built with a basement. In 1850 it was purchased by Thomas Taylor who had begun as a clerk in the store. Taylor over the years also served the town as teacher, surveyor, politician, hotel keeper, and ship builder. He also was Post Master since the post office was in the store. After his death the store was bought and operated by S. A. Calloway, & later was operated by Calloway’s daughter & son-in-law, Roe and Mary Elliott. Also during the years living quarters and a second story were added. In the early 1900s a sewing factory operated on the second floor. The store part has been carefully preserved and partially restored, and was moved to this site in the 1990s.  


Young's Purchase Farm House

Young’s Purchase House was built around 1820 to 1830, according to architectural historians. It was moved to this site from a nearby farm, built on a tract called “Young’s Purchase,” patented in 1720 by William Young. The land grant included land from present Sharptown Road to Barren Creek. The house originally was a two-story dwelling, 14’ x 16’ with fireplace in the end wall. It may have been used as a tenant house in the 1800s, and later the kitchen was added. In 1983 Howard Adkins purchased it and moved it to its present location in Mardela Springs where it is open to visitors, a reminder of the demanding life of early farm life in Barren Creek Springs . 


Gravenor- English School House

At the end of the Civil War, Maryland wrote a new state Constitution which included establishment of the first public School system, and created the new county of Wicomico; what followed in the 1870s was a flurry of school building. A one-room school built in 1870s / 80s on the William Gravenor  farm north of the town soon was moved to the English family farm.  Local students, boys and girls of all ages, were taught by one teacher in the one room. After the school closed near the start of World War One,students attended school in Mardela. This building was sold to a local farmer in 1921 and used as a shed until it was purchased and moved to this site in 1982.



This building was built in 1903. By Mr. Marion C. Nelson of Hebron MD as a  warehouse for the tomato cannery located where the One Room Schoolhouse is now.  A railroad siding was located on the westside of the building to bring in empty cans, The north end of the first floor was for storage of the finished product until it  was sold and loaded for shipment on the train.  The mid-section of the first floor was the labeling area and the office was in the south end.  A wooden boardwalk connected the cannery to the warehouse for the transfer of supplies on wooden dollies.  Mr. Nelson operated the cannery until his death in July 1935.  The cannery property was sold in 1936 to John Armstrong for $75.00.  Mr. Armstrong, although the owner, had the property deeded to Franklin “Jake” Wright.  The cannery was later demolished and the warehouse was used for storage by Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Wright. J. Howard and Louise H. Adkins bought the warehouse property from Mr. Wright in October 1989.  We began the task of clearing the grapevine, saplings and trees from the property and were ready to start restoration by January 1991.  We never missed a day of work because of the weather and by October Dale Adkins, Frank White and others had completed the restoration. We were able to salvage the steam engine that operated the cannery equipment and some unused tomato can labels. The first floor is now occupied by Barren Creek Clocks for the manufacture of wooden geared clocks, the sale of new clocks and a repair and display room.


BC & A Railroad Freight Deposit

The railroad reached the lower Eastern Shore in 1860 when the Eastern Shore Railroad reached Salisbury from northern Delaware. But trains didn’t reach Barren Creek Springs until 30 years later when the Baltimore Eastern Shore RR came down from the upper Shore to Vienna and across the River to the town, where it was extended eastward to Salisbury. After one year the name was changed to Baltimore, Chesapeake & Atlantic RR – jokingly nicknamed by riders to “Black Cinders & Ashes” due to the open coaches! 

The railroad’s impact on Barren Creek Springs was enormous. Contact with the upper Shore, Norfolk, Baltimore and 

Annapolis meant travelers to the town could come to partake of the famous mineral water springs, while locals could send out all sorts of agricultural produce, plus cases of bottled spring water! This depot, moved from about five miles away, replaces the one that once stood almost on this spot, pictured at right. 


Odd Fellows Lodge Hall

This building began as local craftsman Thomas Windsor’s back-yard carpentry shop just a bit west on Main Street. When he died in 1901 the shop was moved to this location and sold to the County to be used as a “voting house” and a place where taxes could be collected, as well as for various other official functions. Before that, in the late 1800s there wasn’t yet a street to connect Main Street with what is now Railroad Ave.; in this area were a 

wheelwright and a blacksmith shop operated by L. M. Vincent and E. S. Boston. Nearby were a grocery store, Grange Hall (housing library / meeting hall), and doctor’s office.
So, this was a logical site for this “official” building. In mid-1900s it was sold to Independent Order of 

Odd Fellows, Goodwill Lodge #112 and electricity and indoor plumbing installed for the first time. It became part of the Adkins Historical Complex in 1983. 


Livery Stable

Built in 1905, this building has changed only a little since it served as a livery stable. The train station was then, as now, close by so that salesmen and travelers arriving on the train could get 

lodging nearby and rent a horse and carriage to make their business or social calls. Operated by “Billie” Wilson, the stable had 8 horse stalls on one side, an office in a corner, and storage for carriages and harness, with oats and corn storage in the loft. When automobiles and trucks made it obsolete, it became a place to manufacture concrete burial vaults. In the mid-1900s it was converted to house five apartments and a beauty parlor for a few years. In 1985, it was incorporated into the Adkins Complex as an exhibit space, and the “hitching stone” reminds of its former role. 


Memorial Building

This small building originally was a tool shed used by railroad workers in the late 1800s / early 1900s. When the Adkins Complex was beginning to take form as a living history complex, the two workmen’s sheds were adapted to serve as exhibit buildings. A collection of artifacts related to the service of many young men from the Barren Creek area in the First and Second World Wars and other military service is presented here to remind visitors of all those who have sacrificed so much to preserve our freedoms. The gravestones were saved from destruction and moved to this site. The man was a local resident who fought in the Revolutionary War. 


The Doctors Office

This building, a renovated office used by a railroad contractor from the early 1900s, now serves as a reminder of Dr. Lemuel Brattan’s office. Brattan, son of one of the town’s founding families in the early 1800s, decided at age 28, to quit his successful career as store-
keeper and businessman, and
become a doctor. He enrolled 

in Univ. of Maryland Medical School, graduated, and returned to open an office as one of two general practice doctors in town. Only a few years later, in 1857, he left town again to go to Texas. About 1870 he returned 

but died shortly after. This building is approximately the size of the office he had built for his practice.


Graham-Whitelock Home

Built in 1914, this home was owned by Mr. & Mrs.Samuel Graham until the mid-1900s when it became the home of the Whitelock family. It shares many of the same Victorian architectural features of many homes built in the “boom” period of the latter 1800s. Most notable is the turret, use of decorative fish-scale shingles, roofs of varying pitches, and the wrap-around Greek Revival porches. It has been painted in the combination of colors so favored in the Victorian era. While the Graham family was not wealthy, Mr. Graham was a much- respected and prosperous builder, reflected in the house. Mrs. Graham lived in the house after his passing until the mid-1900s. 

It was purchased by the Whitelock family, and the Adkins Complex, then restored it as a beautiful house museum.