Chestertown, Maryland

Chestertown, Maryland
Chestertown, Maryland
—  Town  —
High Street in Chestertown
Location of Chestertown, Maryland
Coordinates: 39°13′10″N 76°4′6″W / 39.21944°N 76.06833°W / 39.21944; -76.06833Coordinates: 39°13′10″N 76°4′6″W / 39.21944°N 76.06833°W / 39.21944; -76.06833
Country United States
State Maryland
County Kent
 - Total 2.8 sq mi (7.3 km2)
 - Land 2.6 sq mi (6.8 km2)
 - Water 0.2 sq mi (0.5 km2)
Elevation 20 ft (6 m)
Population (2009)
 - Total 5,043
 - Density 1,818.1/sq mi (702.0/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 21620
Area code(s) 410
FIPS code 24-16225
GNIS feature ID 0589954

Chestertown is a town in Kent County, Maryland, United States. The population was 4,746 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Kent County.[1] The zipcode is 21620 and the area codes are 410 and 443 (overlay). The local telephone exchanges are 778 and 810 for 410; and 215, 282, and 480 for 443.



Founded in 1705, Chestertown rose in stature when it was named one of the English colony of Maryland's six Royal Ports of Entry. The shipping boom that followed this designation made the town at the navigable head of the Chester River wealthy. In the mid-eighteenth century, Chestertown trailed only Annapolis and was considered Maryland's second leading port.

A burgeoning merchant class infused riches into the town, reflected in the many brick mansions and townhouses that sprung up along the waterfront. Another area in which Chestertown is second only to Annapolis is in its number of existing eighteenth century homes.

As of the 1790 census, Chestertown was the geographical center of population of the United States.[2]


Chestertown is located at 39°13′10″N 76°4′6″W / 39.21944°N 76.06833°W / 39.21944; -76.06833 (39.219328, -76.068424).[3]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 2.8 square miles (7.3 km2), of which, 2.6 square miles (6.7 km2) of it is land and 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2) of it (7.09%) is water. As of the first US Census in 1790, Chestertown was the geographical center of the nation's population.

Chestertown Tea Party Festival

In May 1774, five months after the British closing the port of Boston after the Boston Tea Party, the citizens of Chestertown wrote a set of resolves that prohibited the buying, selling, or drinking of tea. Based on these resolves, a popular legend originated purporting that the Chestertown citizens held their own "tea party" on the Chester River in Chestertown, in an act of colonial defiance. The Chestertown Tea Party Festival celebrates Chestertown's colonial heritage with a weekend of events including a re-enactment of the legendary "tea party." A parade begins the festival, marching down High Street to the Chester River, and then follows with colonial music and dance, fife and drum performances, puppet shows, colonial crafts demonstrations and sales, military drills, and a walking tour of the historic district. In the afternoon, re-enactors, playing the part of angry citizens and Continental Soldiers, march to the docks where redcoats (played by members of the Maryland Loyalist Battalion) defend the a ship for a short skirmish, then retire. The ship, the schooner Sultana, is then boarded by the angry citizens, and the tea is thrown into the sea. It is the town's biggest weekend of the year, as tourists fill the streets, strolling among booths filled with crafts, activities, and food.

Schooner Sultana

In 1997, John Swain came up with blueprints for a reproduction of the British Navy ship the HMS Sultana, planning the construction and home of the ship to be centered in Chestertown. In the same year the non-profit group Sultana Projects, Inc. was formed by Swain and supporters to fund construction of the ship. A shipyard was constructed and the keel for the edit] Education

Seal Of Washington College

The town is home to Washington College, a private liberal arts college founded in 1782. Washington College is the tenth oldest college in the USA. George Washington was a founding patron.

The college is known nationally as the home of the Sophie Kerr Prize, which is awarded to the graduating senior with the most literary potential. The award is near $50,000 annually. The most recent prize, worth $61,062 was awarded at a ceremony in New York to Lisa Jones, a resident of Baltimore County, Maryland.[4]


As of the census[5] of 2000, there were 4,746 people, 1,891 households, and 945 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,818.1 people per square mile (702.1/km²). There were 2,164 housing units at an average density of 829.0 per square mile (320.1/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 74.46% White, 21.87% African American, 0.15% Native American, 1.62% Asian, 0.11% Pacific Islander, 0.40% from other races, and 1.39% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.62% of the population.

There were 1,891 households out of which 18.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 32.8% were married couples living together, 14.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 50.0% were non-families. 41.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 19.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.96 and the average family size was 2.61.

In the town the population was spread out with 13.4% under the age of 18, 25.6% from 18 to 24, 18.5% from 25 to 44, 18.2% from 45 to 64, and 24.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 75.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 71.6 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $31,530, and the median income for a family was $40,960. Males had a median income of $27,283 versus $25,513 for females. The per capita income for the town was $18,769. 18.5% of the population and 12.8% of families were below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 26.2% of those under the age of 18 and 13.9% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.

Honors and accolades

Chestertown's historic waterfront

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, the country's largest private, nonprofit preservation organization, named Chestertown, Maryland, to its 2007 list of America's Dozen Distinctive Destinations, an annual list of unique and lovingly preserved communities in the United States. Chestertown was selected from 63 destinations in 27 states that were nominated by individuals, preservation organizations, and local communities.

"Chestertown is a treasure hidden in plain sight," said Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. "A small, historic and relatively unspoiled Eastern Shore town, Chestertown had the good sense to hang on to what makes it so special. The result is a vibrant community that offers travelers an ideal retreat."[6]

Progressive Farmer magazine honors Kent County and Chestertown by naming it #1 in Best Rural Places to Live in America for 2008. "For a county to be in Progressive Farmer's Best Places list, they hold them to the usual standards — good schools, health care, safety and other desirable qualities. But what makes Kent stand out is its residents' resolve to maintain a solid rural heritage."[7]


The Chestertown Spy ([1]) is the online news source for Chestertown and the Chester River community.

Maryland Public Television (([2])) showcased the first installment of their full-length documentary series, Our Town, with the premiere of Our Town: Chestertown on December 12, 2009. Nearly two dozen participants, ranging from a local furniture maker to a former Chief of Police, borrowed camcorders from MPT and compiled more than 20 hours of footage to answer the question, what makes your community special? The documentary includes interviews, footage and personal stories from lifetime Chestertown residents as well as new arrivals.


The number of violent crimes recorded in Chestertown by the FBI in 2003 was 0. The number of murders and homicides was 0. The violent crime rate was 7.5 per 1,000 people.

Notable residents and natives

In popular culture

Chestertown was mentioned in the Roland Emerich film The Patriot. In the scene before the family goes to Charlestown to vote on independence, Gabriel Martin played by Heath Ledger reads in the paper that there was an uprising in Chestertown, with British officials being "tarred and feathered", later dying of burns. This is most likely a nod to the Chestertown Tea Party (see above).

Chestertown is also the setting for Gilbert Byron's book The Lord's Oysters. Through its central character, Noah Marlin, Byron tells largely autobiographical tales of growing up a waterman's son on the banks of the Chester River.


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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