History of the Month-Stevensville Cray House

From Kent Island to Church Hill, Queen Anne’s County is filled with rich history and interesting historical sites. We’re spending 2023 highlighting some of these historical sites across the Shore. We’re starting off with the Cray House, a unique piece of architecture and history in downtown Stevensville. It is of particular interest to note that the Cray House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. 

     The Cray House was built over 200 years ago and is a rare surviving example of post and plank architecture on the Shore. Once a common form of construction in Europe, Post and Plank Architecture uses hand cut planks of wood as vertical corner posts. The Cray House is one of just a few surviving Post and Plank homes in Maryland. Some historians believe this style of architecture was brought by European settlers and immigrants, while others believe it was developed endemically in North America. 

     Modern visitors to the Cray House might be struck by the size of the home. The ceilings on both of the floors are low, and the curved stairway connecting both floors is steep and narrow. For comfort the house has multiple fireplaces. Next to the house you’ll find a small shed-like building that was used as a “meat house” or smokehouse. It was moved to the Cray House location and is an example of a once common feature of houses in the region. It is currently operated as a gift shop in conjunction with the house, which is now a museum.

     The original builder and inhabitants of the home are unknown. The plot of land was originally a land grant given to Francis Steven known as “Stevens Adventure.” After a series of owners, the house was sold at public auction in 1914 and purchased by Nora Cray, its namesake, who lived in it with her nine children. In 1975 her heirs donated the building to the Kent Island Heritage Society. The Heritage Society has completed multiple repairs and renovations on the Cray House… some of them structural, some aesthetic-like repainting. 

    The Cray House is open to the public on the first Saturdays of the month from 12N-4pm from May to October. It also is open for special events and by appointment. The Cray House is located at 109 Cockey Lane in Stevensville. If you would like to learn more about the Cray House or other historic sites in Queen Anne’s County you can go to the Kent Island Heritage Society location at www.historicqac.org