Havre De Grace at a Glance
Enjoy a visit to historic Havre De Grace, our name says it all, “Harbor of Grace”. As early as the 1620’s this area was recorded on nautical charts and in short histories about the upper Chesapeake Bay and the large Susquehanna River which in the Indian language meant “river of islands”. The large island located under the Thomas J. Hatem Bridge was part of a land grant given by King James I of England. It is named Garret Island in honor of a former president of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.
During the Revolutionary War, this small hamlet was visited several times by General Lafayette. He mentioned that the area reminded him of the French seaport, Le Havre. Hence, our town derived its lovely name “Harbor of Grace”. The town was incorporated in 1785.
You will experience museums devoted to celebrating our Waterman’s way of life. Those with an eye for architecture will appreciate the many fine Victorian homes here. In 1791, Havre De Grace narrowly lost out to Washington, D.C., as the nation’s capitol. As a result of that near brush with fate, you will find many streets such as Union, Congress, Washington, Lafayette, Adams, etc. that bear the names of noble revolutionary leaders and ideals.
A scant few years later, during the War of 1812, the British again sailed up the Chesapeake Bay. After laying siege to Washington, D.C., burning the White House, and having been held at bay by the patriots in Baltimore, they proceeded to Havre De Grace. Most of the citizens fled in fear, but Lt. John O’Neill single-handedly defended the town. He was wounded, captured, and imprisoned on the British ship Maidstone. The town was sacked and burned, with only two houses and St. John’s Episcopal Church spared. O’Neill’s fifteen year old daughter, Matilda, pleaded with the Admiral of the Fleet for her father’s life. Admiral Cockburn was so impressed by the girl’s bravery that he released O’Neill unharmed, and rewarded Matilda by giving her his gold snuff box and sword.
One of the most famous horse race tracks, the Graw, was in operation from 1912 to 1950. In its heyday, trains brought passengers direct from the surrounding metropolitan areas, and the jockeys voted it the best track in the country. Today, it is home to the Maryland National Guard.
Havre De Grace is located in northeastern Maryland in Harford County at the confluence of the Susquehanna River and the Chesapeake Bay. Situated approximately 39 miles northeast of Baltimore and 45 miles south of Philadelphia, it is easily accessible from I-95, Via Exit 89, MD 155 and US 40. Havre De Grace is a wonderful place to visit. We know you’ll want to stay the weekend.
Places to Stay in Havre De Grace
Bed & Breakfast Inns through out the town of Havre De Grace
The Currier House is located on 800 South Market Street, 1-800-827-2889/410-939-7886.
Spencer Silver Mansion is located on 200 South Union Avenue. This structure and the Seneca Mansion are two large scale historic houses built as private residences. Seneca Mansion is the only “High Victorian” stone mansion in the city. It contains numerous architectural embellishments such as a two-storied bay window, a tower, four gables, a dormer and a variety of window shapes and placements. 1-800-780-1485/410-939-1097.
The Vandiver Inn is located on 301 South Union Street, 1-800-245-1655 or 410-939-5200.
These Bed & Breakfast Inns offer excellent accommodations and are within walking distance to Antique Row.
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Places to Eat in Havre De Grace
You will find many fine restaurants that offer fresh seafood. Ken’s Steak & Rib House provides casual dining in an elegant atmosphere. Ken’s is located on 400 North Union Avenue. For reservations call 410-939-5440.
Price’s Seafood is well known for their genuine steamed crabs and is located on 654 Water Street. Call ahead for reservations 410-939-2782.
Another town favorite is Coakley’s Pub located on 406 St. John Street. Where the crab cakes are famous! For reservations call 410-939-8888.
You’ll also find most of the fast food restaurants (McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut, etc.) located on US 40.
Places to Go in Havre De Grace
Havre De Grace has many places of interest:
Skipjack Martha Lewis
Havre de Grace, Maryland
Right in Harford County lays a unique floating History Museum! That’s right the Skipjack Martha Lewis, docked in Havre de Grace, Maryland is a floating History Museum. The Martha Lewis is over 50 years old and continues to dredge for oysters today just as they did in the early 1900’s. While visiting you can step back in time, learn about the rich heritage and cultural that is fading from the Chesapeake Bay at an alarming rate. With just about 12 Skipjacks remaining on the Chesapeake, the Martha Lewis is the last one to still dredge for oysters under sail. Truly the only way to fully appreciate the Maritime History of the Chesapeake Bay is to experience it from the decks of the last remaining vessel that continues to work under sail in North America. Bring your family, friends, students; walk the deck, raise the sails and make history come alive! We offer many different cruises in which you can participate. Become a part of history and support the Skipjack Martha Lewis, a floating History Museum in Havre de Grace.
The Havre de Grace Decoy Museum
215 Giles St, Havre De Grace, MD 21078
Opened in 1986, the museum has a collection of prized hand carved decoys and other memorabilia of “gunning on the flats”. Havre De Grace became known as the “Decoy Capitol of the World,” because so many of the master decoy carvers live, lived, studied, or were affiliated with this town through out the years. Visit the Havre De Grace Decoy Museum located on the banks of the historic Susquehanna Flats. The Decoy Museum houses one of the finest collections of decoys from the Chesapeake Bay and from around the country. The Havre De Grace Decoy Museum is open to the public seven days a week, 361 days a year, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Concord Point Lighthouse
700 Concord St, Havre De Grace, MD 21078
The Concord Point Lighthouse is one of the oldest lighthouses in continual operation on the East Coast. Located at the foot of Lafayette Street, the point where the Susquehanna River becomes the Chesapeake Bay. The lighthouse was built in 1827 with Lt. John O’Neill as the light keeper. This position was maintained by the O’Neill descendants until it was automated in recent years. This was one of eight lighthouses built to coincide with the opening of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal linking the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays. The lighthouse was in continuous operation for over 150 years. On the water side you can see one of the cannons used in the defense of Havre De Grace on May 3, 1813. The Lighthouse has been restored and is open from April through October, Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
The Susquehanna Museum of Havre De Grace
817 Conesteo St, Havre De Grace, MD 21078
The museum is a restored 1836 lock house on the Susquehanna River. This building served as a home for the lock tender and a canal office for collecting tolls for vessels headed north toward Pennsylvania. The museum offers a display of Havre De Grace History and is located on Erie and Conesto Streets. Open from May through October, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
320 Blenheim Ln #2003, Havre De Grace, MD 21078
For the golfer there is Bulle Rock’s 18 hole world class Pete Dye golf course open to the public and hosting.
Early (1780 to 1830)
This period represents the era of a sleepy fishing village. This group contains only one structure, Rogers House, but several others are strongly suspect. The British burning of Havre De Grace in 1813 caused severe damage to 60% of the existing houses.
The Canal Era (1830-1850)
This period when Havre De Grace flourished economically provides one of the most interesting collections of structures in the district. Dozens of structures still remain that were built in this five-year period which marked the coming of the railroad, the beginning of the modern northeast corridor and the completion of the new Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal on the western shore of the river.
Although some new industry began to arise in the city during this period, the demise of canals and the lingering effects of the Civil War undoubtedly cooled the activity of the previous period. However, a sufficiently large number of structures have survived.
The late industrial age brought a resurgence of prosperity to what was now officially, a city.
One of the major businesses of the time was the sawing of ice every winter out of the Susquehanna for icehouses all over the region. There are a series of interesting photographs of this antique activity in the Lock House Museum. Another major business of the city was commercial fishing. Prior to the completion of the Conowingo Dam in 1926, Havre De Grace was known as the “Shad Capital of the World”. The recently constructed fish ladders at the dam are part of a long overdue attempt to restore this fishery. The Thomas Hopkins House (1893), and The Harrison Hopkins House (1868)
On the SE corner of Union Avenue and Green Street stands the elaborate, two-chimney, Canal Era, Thomas Hopkins (of “Johns Hopkins Hospital fame”) House. Directly across the street (on the SW corner) is Harrison Hopkins’s home. It has been noted that the design of 226 N. Union is “an example of the highly eclectic, even eccentric styles that became popular after the Civil War.”
The St.John’s Episcopal Church (1809)
Located at the intersection of Congress and Union is the city’s oldest church. This church is also one of the oldest surviving structures in the city. The building is remarkable for its Flemish bond brick walls, its well executed round arched windows and its simple, early 19th century appearance.
The O’Neill House (1865)
Located on Washington Street portions of the structure appear to date back as early 1814. The structure has considerable historic significance to Havre De Grace, since the property was in the O’Neill family for 158 years. John O’Neill, the original owner, is known as “the defender of Havre De Grace” for his solitary attempt to thwart the British Attack on the town in 1813.
Getting Around Havre De Grace
Havre De Grace is visitor friendly and getting around town is quite simple. Visit any business in town and pick up a free copy of “Havre de Grace Magazine” (formerly Lockhouse to Lighthouse)…and all ’round town”, A Day Tripper’s Guide to Our Town, Havre De Grace, MD, it will help you to find the events of the season and also includes a detailed map of Havre de Grace.
Take time to visit the Discover Harford County Tourism for more information on events and happenings in the area. Website: www.harfordmd.com For information call: 1-800-597-2649/410-272-2325/410-575-7278.
Havre De Grace Links
Need more? Try these links for additional information about Havre De Grace, Maryland.
The I-95 Exit Information Guide
“Flat out, the single best website for auto travelers on the Net” Yahoo’s Internet Life Magazine
Havre De Grace
Unique on the Cheasapeake! The Havre de Grace Office of Tourism & Visitor Center’s web site
Discover Harford County
Hartford County Visitors Guide
Bicycling is becoming a major attraction in Havre de Grace and the upper Chesapeake region thanks to coastal bike trail developments
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