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1878, E. M. Butz; 1936 addition, Malone and Williams; 1974–1975; mid-1990s additions. 101 N. Division St.
  • (Lisa Pfueller Davidson and Catherine C. Lavoie)

Wicomico County was created in 1867 from the partition of Somerset and Worcester counties. The design of its new courthouse, built a decade later, embraced High Victorian Gothic, then fashionable in Salisbury. Much of downtown Salisbury was destroyed by a fire in 1860 and the Civil War delayed rebuilding. In the 1870s, dredging to improve the Wicomico River channel to Salisbury and railroad construction transformed the county seat into the most important transportation hub on the Lower Eastern Shore with a thriving trade in lumber, produce, grain, and other commodities.

When the new courthouse was completed in 1878, it was the largest and most elaborately decorated building in Salisbury. Architect Butz of western Pennsylvania designed several courthouses in this period with a similar eclectic approach; W. V. Hughes was the builder. The courthouse’s polychromatic brick facade has stone and brick banded arches over the windows and patterned brick with black accents in the eaves and belt courses. Most striking are the two corner towers with steep mansard slate roofs; the taller northwest tower features a clock. The courthouse survived another disastrous downtown fire in 1886, after which the late-nineteenth-century building boom continued.

As Salisbury continued to grow into the largest city on the Eastern Shore, more space was needed for government functions. In 1936 a large addition was built to the courthouse’s rear. Funded with New Deal public works monies, the three-story brick addition on a tall limestone basement is ornamented with stone pilasters and Art Deco bas-reliefs. It was the work of the local firm of Malone and Williams, who designed a similar courthouse a few years later in Cecil County. Further large additions in the mid-1970s and mid-1990s do not encroach on the earlier sections.

Writing Credits

Lisa Pfueller Davidson and Catherine C. Lavoie


What's Nearby


Lisa Pfueller Davidson and Catherine C. Lavoie, "WICOMICO COUNTY COURTHOUSE", [Salisbury, Maryland], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Maryland, Lisa Pfueller Davidson and Catherine C. Lavoie. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2022, 130-131.

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