Features Overview

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The Wye Grist Mill

The Wye Mill is the oldest continuously operated grist mill in the United States, located at Wye Mills, Queen Anne's County and Talbot County, Maryland, United States. It is the earliest industrial site on the Eastern Shore in continuous use; dating to the late 17th century. It is a wood-frame, water-powered grist mill, with a 19th-century 26 HP 10-foot-diameterFitz steel overshot wheel. The mill retains nearly all of its late-18th-century equipment. The Wye Mill was one of the first grist mills to be automated with the Oliver Evans process, which is still in use today.

The Wye Mill was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.

The Tidewater Inn

Even after the fire’s hateful roar had faded, when the flames were long vanquished and black smoke had cleared from the smoldering ruins; even after the bay breezes had driven off the pungent scent of charred remains; even then, especially then, the fever dream-like shock of it all hung in the minds of the townspeople. For weeks and months many of them shuffled around like blinking storm survivors emerging into the light from underground shelters trying to absorb some lesser harsh reality. The Avon Hotel, whose advertising slogan was “Where Gracious Plenty Rules the Board” had stood on that corner in the center of that town for longer than most could remember for longer than many had lived. In fact, the hotel’s roots, on the corner of that charming Maryland town, dated back to 1712. Now, in the aftermath of the blazing inferno, the once stately wood structure was reduced to blackened timbers scattered among the gray heaps of cooling ash.

But in 1947, three years after the Avon was consumed by fire and in the midst of a post WWII building materials shortage when construction steel was expensive and hard to find, local businessman Arthur Johnson Grymes broke ground on a new hotel. In stepping forward when he did, Mr. Grymes not only restored a rich tradition of gracious Eastern Shore hospitality, he rebuilt one of the most iconic social, cultural, and architectural touchstones in the community’s history. Employing only the finest materials and methods like a one-foot thick re-bared cement floor, steel I-beam supports, colonial design inspired brick exterior, high ceilings, and fine interior appointments cost considerable time and money. But it also ensured that his treasured showcase was built to last. Then finally, on September 3, 1949, with more than 4,000 people in attendance, the Tidewater Inn, rising in the heart of Easton like a Phoenix from the ashes, celebrated its grand opening.

Nestled in the bucolic setting of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, with its rich soil, abundant wildlife, and Chesapeake Bay vistas, The Tidewater Inn (and Avon Hotel before it) had always attracted more than its share of gentlemen hunters and genteel estate owners. Bird hunters would often arrive with dogs on leash and geese in hand after a successful day in the nearby fields and streams. Then, while the dogs were fed in a basement kennel, the hunters would shower and dress in their luxurious guest rooms before reconvening in the hotel’s restaurant for a fine meal: the catch of the day cleaned, cooked, and served by the kitchen staff under the expert guidance of the executive chef.

SmithIsland Cake

Many have tried to copy our famous cake.  An authentic Smith Island cakefeatures 8 to 14, individually baked thin layers. The most popular version features a cooked chocolate fudge icing. Other flavors such as banana, orange, fig and coconut are popular.  The cake can be made using a commercial cake mix but with unique additions such as condensed milk (a hold-over from the days before electricity and refrigeration).  This cake has been made by Island bakers for generations.

The cake is also baked as the feature prize for a local fundraising tradition called a cake walk which is a game played like musical chairs where donated cakes serve as the prize. Great attention is paid to the perfection of the layers and form of the cake. Before each round, the prize cake at stake is cut in half and shown to the players who pay to participate in the game. A poorly stacked cake may not attract many players and as a result, not raise as much money as a more perfectly executed cake.

On April 24, 2008, Smith Island cake was designated as the official dessert of the state of Maryland.