Town of Perryville, MD
The Town of Perryville is dedicated to promoting the safety, health, and welfare of our citizens and to cultivating a sense of community with all citizens of Perryville. To meet these goals, we are committed to ensuring a standard of excellence in the quality of municipal goods and services provided, to fostering a high standard of environmental stewardship and to encourage growth that benefits the entire citizenry of the Town.
The rich history of the Town of Perryville began in 1608 when Captain John Smith became the first European explorer to navigate the Susquehanna River and visit the area. Perryville was first settled in 1622 when Edward Palmer was granted a patent for a settlement on what is now Garrett Island. In the 1600s, Lord Baltimore granted George Talbot 31,000 acres of land which included the Perryville area. Before incorporation in 1882, Perryville was known as Lower Ferry, circa 1695, Susquehanna, circa 1700s, and finally Perryville was named after Mary Perry, the wife of John Bateman.
During the Revolutionary War, Perryville served as a staging area for the Continental Army. Colonel John Rodgers, who operated the ferry and tavern in Perryville, raised the 5th Company of the Maryland Militia. This company became part of the famous Flying Corps and was instrumental during the early stages of the Revolutionary War. Colonel Rodgers' son, John Rodgers, became Commodore of the American Navy and was instrumental in clearing the Tripoli Pirates from the Mediterranean Sea. Commodore Rodgers served with distinction during the War of 1812 and is known as the "Father of the American Navy." George Washington frequently stopped at Rodgers Tavern on his trips from Virginia to New York.
During the 1800s, Perryville was the central point for the Wilmington to Baltimore Rail Line. During the War between the States, the rail line between Perryville and Baltimore was destroyed. To transport troops and munitions to Annapolis, the Union Army again began the operation of the ferry across the Susquehanna.
Throughout the 1900s Perryville continued to serve as a railroad town. The advent of the interstate highway system helped Perryville metamorphose into a highway town. Perryville is the home of the Perry Point Veterans Hospital, the Perryville Travel Plaza, and the Perryville Outlet Center.
The Town of Perryville offers a variety of services to its citizenry. The Perryville Community Park is open and available for public use. Perryville is the second largest municipality in Cecil County and continues to expand and grow, anchoring the southwest corner of Cecil County. Please visit and explore the Town of Perryvilleâ€”a trip through the town is a trip through the roots of America.
Rodgers Tavern stands on the east bank of the Susquehanna River in Perryville, Maryland. The tavern is a monument to our country's early history and a reminder of a past way of life in Cecil County. Built in the early eighteenth century, the tavern was known first as the Ferry House or Stevenson's Tavern and was located next to a ferry established in 1695.
Here on the Post Road between Baltimore and Philadelphia, numerous travelers both foreign and American, crossed the river, lodged, and partook of food and drink. One traveler, James Kent, in describing the area surrounding the tavern, noted in 1791, "This River is one mile wide here; a view up the river as we cross the ferry is very romantic, an island is just above, and the banks are steep and rugged."
The Rodgers family was actively involved in supporting the American cause during the Revolutionary War. In 1775, John Rodgers raised and commanded a company of militia for the defense of Maryland. Because of the Tavern's strategic location on the main thoroughfare and the owner's patriotic tendencies, it was a favorite stopping place for such Revolutionary figures as George Washington, Lafayette, and Rochambeau.
Other distinguished visitors included Jefferson, and Madison. Just one year after John Rodgers bought the tavern, in 1781, Washington brought officers and troops through the Lower Ferry Crossing on his way to his victorious campaign against Cornwallis at Yorktown. Undoubtedly the tavern was filled to more than capacity with this flood of hungry and thirsty men, and surely all members of the Rodgers family were put to work to meet their obligations as hosts and fellow Americans.
Following the Revolution, Rodgers Tavern continued as a well-frequented establishment known for excellent food and entertainment. Several contemporary accounts mention the hundreds of canvasback ducks on the Chesapeake Bay, and the many fruits and vegetables of Cecil County, all of which provided delicious fare for tavern guests. George Washington noted several times in his diary dining at Rodgers Tavern on his travels from Virginia to Philadelphia.
Of Colonel John and Elizabeth Rodgers' eight children, several pursued and excelled in their chosen occupation, and married into distinguished local families, Ann Marie Rodgers married William Pinkney, Maryland's famous orator and jurist, and her sister, Mary Rodgers, wedded Howes Goldsborough. Two of the sons, John Rodgers and George Washington Rodgers served as commodores in the Navy, and a third, Thomas Rodgers, was a physician.
During Commodore John Rodgers' long term of naval service, from 1798 to 1838, he was a highly respected officer and became known as the "Founder of the American Navy". He was a first lieutenant on the maiden voyage of the U.S.S. Constellation, and later during the War of 1812, he saved Baltimore from British destruction. This tradition of distinguished military service has continued through every generation of Rodgers descendants to the present day.
Rodgers Tavern continued to be run as a tavern by Elizabeth Rodgers and later other tavern keepers until at least 1886. However, as bridges and railroads superseded ferries and carriages, the once popular route via the Lower Susquehanna Ferry diminished in use and the tavern was no longer needed. During that time, the Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington Railroad bought the property and the building entered a period of neglect and deterioration.
In 1956, spurred by various societies to save Rodgers Tavern, the Society for the Preservation of Maryland Antiquities bought the building, and the Friends of Rodgers Tavern was organized to preserve and restore it to its former state. Through their diligence, the tavern was entered in the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. The restoration of both the interior and exterior continues today.
Rodgers Tavern is an excellent example of early eighteenth century American architecture. The stone exterior of the building, while simple in form, exhibits fine quality stone-masonry and gives a sense of tastes, and met the needs of tavern activities. The main floor consists of two parlors, a public room and a small office. Of particular significance in the front parlor are the original eighteenth century paneling and the dated (1771) fire back cast locally at the Principio Ironworks. The second floor consists of five chambers used primarily by tavern guests. The attic is roughly finished and probably served as quarters for guests' servants.
Historic Rodgers Tavern was purchased from the Society for the Preservation of Maryland Antiquities on October 5, 1993. And subsequently, the organization Friends of Rodgers Tavern, dissolved. The Town of Perryville seeks to continue to preserve this building and facilitate its usefulness as a historic center for cultural and community activities.