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c. 1719; c. 1725 alterations; c. 1910 addition. 36889 Bushwood Wharf Rd.
  • (Photograph by Randolph Langenbach, HABS)
  • Roof structure (Randolph Langenbach, HABS)
  • First floor plan (Cary Carson and Chinh Hoang, HABS)
  • Second floor plan (Cary Carson and Chinh Hoang, HABS)
  • East elevation (Cary Carson and Chinh Hoang, HABS)
  • Section drawing (Cary Carson and Chinh Hoang, HABS)
  • Upper cruck trusses (Cary Carson and Chinh Hoang, HABS)

Dated though dendrochronology, this is one of the oldest masonry buildings in Maryland and one of the few examples of a cruck-roof formation in the country. Cruck construction originated as a medieval English building technique. At Ocean Hall, pairs of curving timbers are joined by mortise and tenon to the tie beams, crossing to either side of the ridge pole above, and the rafters supported by massive purlins. Built in an era of impermanent buildings, Ocean Hall was remarkable for its day, representing an early transition to more enduring dwellings influenced by the emerging Georgian style.

The one-and-a-half-story, single-cell-deep, central-passage house exhibits such elite early Chesapeake building traditions as Flemish-bond brick with decorative glazed headers and molded water table. The interior features an unusually tall ceiling height and generously proportioned rooms. The parlor retains its exposed post-and-beam framing, paneled walls, large fireplace, and a diverse palette of painted and grained finishes. Ocean Hall overlooks the Wicomico River, obliquely sited to face toward the no longer extant Wiccomocoe Towne, a relationship captured in a period painting that appears in the parlor overmantel. It was in fact the designation of this as a port, later known as Bushwood Wharf, that motivated merchant Gerrard Slye to erect his fine house here. A frame wing with modern kitchen was added c. 1910.


Boyd, James Carroll. Ocean Hall: Discovery of an American Classic. Printed by author, 2011.

“Designation Listing Selection Guide, Domestic 1: Vernacular Houses.” English Heritage (April 2011).

“Ocean Hall,” St. Mary’s County, Maryland. Historic American Buildings Survey, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1976. From Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (HABS No. MD-323).

Owens, Christopher, and J. Richard Rivoire, “Ocean Hall,” St. Mary’s County, Maryland. National Register of Historic Places Inventory–Nomination Form, 1973. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C.

Writing Credits

Lisa Pfueller Davidson and Catherine C. Lavoie



  • 1718

  • 1725

  • 1910


What's Nearby


Lisa Pfueller Davidson and Catherine C. Lavoie, "OCEAN HALL", [Leonardtown, 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, 28-28.

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