The Captain’s Houses form a remarkable ensemble of four nearly identical small frame houses built in 1880 by prominent local schooner captain John H. Ozmon to provide housing for workmen on his sailing schooners and in his warehouses, granaries, and store. While these small, close-set, banked, two-and-a-half-story houses are unique in that they are set on a full-story brick basement, they more generally reflect the small house or cottage built in maritime areas throughout the southern United States.
The Captain’s Houses are tall and narrow, comprised of only a single room per floor. They are of wood frame construction resting on a high brick basement with an interior brick chimney stack at one end. Their waterfront facades feature a walk-out ground level, a first-story porch inset under the steeply pitched gable roof, and a single dormer window. The inset porch is a feature of local Tidewater architecture, while its high basement allows for unobstructed views to the river from the primarily living space on the first floor. The Captain’s Houses appear as only one-and-a-half stories from the opposing, banked elevation, where a porch running the length of the facade covers the entry into the first floor. A brick fireplace projects into the room at the ground level, used as a kitchen, while the chimneys on the first and half stories were fitted for stoves.
The Captain’s Houses are the oldest surviving structures along the Centreville waterfront, reflecting the maritime trade and the transfer of agricultural goods on Maryland’s Eastern Shore during the late nineteenth century. Early commercial activity on this branch of Corsica Creek included a grist mill, tobacco inspection warehouse, and a wharf that served as a loading area for agricultural goods bound for Baltimore and Norfolk. Captain Ozmon was master of the schooner Kent by age twenty and by the time of his death in 1902 owned much of the Centreville Wharf. Ozmon ran a shipping business throughout the late nineteenth century. He is said to have built as many as twenty houses in the wharf area, of which only these four survive.
The Captain’s Houses are now individually owned residences and are located to the northwest of downtown Centreville. No longer situated near a commercial wharf, the area today is largely residential and borders on a waterfront park.
Ridout, Orlando, “Captain’s Houses,” Queen Anne’s County, Maryland. National Register of Historic Places Inventory–Nomination Form, 1980. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C.
Chapman Publishing Company. Portrait and Biographical Record of the Eastern Shore. 1898. Reprint, Jacksonville, FL: Heritage Books, 2006.