Originally named Talbot Courthouse, The Town of Easton was established in 1710 and was seen early on as the epicenter of the Eastern Shore, often referred to as “East Capitol” because of the location of many of the government offices. Known as a hub of activity and commerce centered on tidewater and tobacco, Easton has been home to the Shore’s first bank, newspaper, federal offices, and brick hotel.
The Historical Society of Talbot County is housed in a 19th-century building and features a three-gallery exhibit of Talbot County history. Guided tours of three restored houses are offered: the James Neall House, built in 1810, the Joseph Neall House, built in 1795, and a 17th century reconstruction named “Ending of Controversie.” The Society’s Federal- style gardens have won state and national acclaim, and a restored 18th century house serves as a consignment antique shop, with proceeds to benefit the Society. Self-guided walking tour maps of historic downtown Easton are available.
The Hill neighborhood of Easton, currently being studied by Historic Easton, the University of Maryland, and Morgan State University is likely the earliest settlement of free African-Americans in the United States, dating to 1790. Unionville, a village suburb of Easton, was settled after the Civil War by Union soldiers who were freed slaves from nearby plantations.
The Third Haven Meeting House & Cemetery located at 405 South Washington Street was built in 1682 and believed to be the oldest framed building dedicated to religious meetings still existing in America. The Meeting House was built at the headwaters of the Tred Avon River, with many Friends coming by boat to attend the monthly all-day meetings. Among the early builders was William Southeby, said to be the first native American to write against slavery. Restored in 1990, meetings continue to be held on Sunday mornings at 10 AM.