The historic Town of New Market, with its picturesque Main Street and historic charm, is a quintessential small town and worth a visit by anyone driving along Interstate 70 in eastern Frederick County, Maryland.
The town’s historic ambiance comes from the well-preserved buildings that line its Main Street. The Historic District looks much the same today as when New Market was founded in 1793. About 90% of these buildings feature architecture from the 19th century Federal-style, Greek Revival, and even Victorian era.
The entire Historic District is on the National Register of historic places, which includes the elegant Ramsburg House, at 33 West Main St. It is a late 19th century Federal- style red brick home with Victorian embellishments.
Adding a contemporary flair to the Historic District is Community Park, an East Main Street locale, ideal for picnicking and enjoying the fresh air. The park also has climbing and playground equipment, as well as tennis and basketball courts.
The community park also boasts Art on Main, which features a sculpture by ceramicist Parran Collery that celebrates the butterfly as an ancient symbol of transformation, hope and perseverance. “The vibrant, saturated colors of the butterflies compel you to slow down and look closely,” the artist explained. There’s also a real butterfly garden, created as part of an Eagle Scout project.
A historical perspective goes a long way to appreciating the town’s character.
“Much like the rest of Carroll, Frederick and Washington counties, [New Market] was a crossroads during the Civil War,” said Elizabeth Scott Shatto, executive director of the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area.
The town is located along what was originally the National Road, now called Maryland Route 144, where “millions of travelers – including both Union and Confederate troops – passed through during the 19th century. The local economy catered to travelers’ needs, offering provisions, accommodations and other goods and services.”
At least eight “New Market in the Civil War” markers are installed on or within 3 miles of West Main Street.
New Market was part of the 2021 refresh of the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area’s GeoTrail, Shatto noted. The popular “interactive puzzle” involves using GPS coordinates on a mobile device, and assuming “the role of a Civil War correspondent on the trail of a spy, culminating in the discovery of a final geocache,” she said.
“The goal is to inspire geocache enthusiasts of all ages to learn about Civil War history, and experience the power of historic places, as well as to invite economic development by encouraging participants to eat, drink, and shop along the trail,” Shatto said.
Community Wining & Dining
The owners of New Market’s eateries – most housed in historic properties – perpetuate the town’s tradition of providing sustenance to all in a welcoming atmosphere.
Dan and Staci Caiola had an excellent reason for choosing to open The Derby Restaurant & Bar at 83 W. Main St.
“We live here. Our kids go to school here,” Staci said. “We had a restaurant in Mount Airy, so this was close to the community that already knew us. We wanted to continue building our brand in our backyard.”
Both Caiolas grew up in the restaurant business; the two culinary professionals, trained chefs, and restaurateurs met while attending the Culinary Institute of America. They opened The Derby on Sept. 1, 2018, going for “a family atmosphere dining and hometown bar feel with something for everyone” in a 19th century building that “came with a lot of built-in character. We used that in our design aspects.”
The Derby’s comfortable dining room and cozy Bar Side hit the spot for lunch or dinner with friends, date night, family night out, happy hour, or after-dinner cocktails.
“We are the local spot for all to come and feel at home. We offer a large menu [all crafted with fresh regional produce and high-quality ingredients], support our community, and aim to have something for everyone,” Staci said.
In fair weather, there’s The Yard, “a seasonal outdoor oasis with 100-plus seats and featuring our very own ice cream parlor, The Derby Cone, and plenty of space for the kids to play and run while you sip on a fresh squeezed crush from our outdoor Crush Bar,” Staci said.
Wednesday through Saturday, 6 to 9 p.m., are for live local music inside during the winter, and outdoors in The Yard in temperate seasons.
Ashly and Michael Wright opened their “hip, cool, and vibrant” Prospect Pantry in a 174-year- old house, “front and center in the Historic District,” in June 2022, at 1 W. Main St.
“Our landing in New Market was serendipitous,” Ashly said. “We happened to learn of the opportunity to occupy a dual zone residential and merchant space … and we jumped on it.”
The couple lives upstairs. The California natives quickly fell for the “history of the town and the community,” Ashly said. “We love everything about this town and have totally committed to planting roots here.”
Ashly grew up in the restaurant industry. Her grandfather owned restaurants in San Francisco, and co-owned restaurants with baseball great Joe DiMaggio. Michael, a career firefighter for Frederick County, is on the Town Council, and Ashly is on the events committee.
The building’s age “certainly presented its own challenges when we were getting open, but we absolutely love telling the stories of what happened before us,” Ashly said. “[The restaurant’s] moss wall with the quote ‘If these walls could talk’ in neon lighting is a nod to the history of the building.”
The Wrights’ original concept was a wine bar, but they pivoted to a breakfast and lunch spot once they figured out the community’s needs.
Prospect Pantry offers breakfast all day and promotes community.
“We are a place where you can spend the day doing business with free Wi-Fi, and also a place that hosts private events and business meetings. We are very family friendly, in everything from the music playlist to the giant gumball machine,” Ashly said.
Through a partnership with the Frederick Acoustic Music Enterprise (FAME), Prospect Panty hosts local musical performances about three times a week. They support local makers of items like dog treats, goat milk soap, and honey, and display local artists’ work on the walls.
5 WEST CAFE
5 West Café is a specialty coffee shop where small-batch coffee is roasted onsite daily. Its “vibe,” said owner Laurie Mills, “is calm and friendly, safe and cozy, restorative and therapeutic.”
5 West serves craft coffee drinks, hot and cold teas, and cold and craft sodas inside as well as on its outdoor patio.
“We started out with only local bakery items, but we have expanded to include breakfast burritos, various wraps and salads, bagels, panini and soups,” Mills said.
Mills and her late husband, Walter, bought the building at 5 W. Main St. in 2016, intending to renovate and resell. Zoning issues led them instead to opening Stage Line Coffee Roasting in 2019, located in the rear building. The café opened on Jan. 12, 2022.
Mills was committed to being faithful to the space’s “very special energy,” she said. “In designing the space, I tried to leave everything as close to how it was as possible, and then intertwined the new cafe space into the historical space.”
The space was “a hotel in the 1800s but [it] also [housed] a general store, a whiskey room and a ballroom,” she said. “It was a place for people to lodge and to gather.”
Mills continues that tradition. 5 West Café, she said, “is a place to gather and to share time, which in today’s social media environment, makes the café a very special place to just hang out.”
Vintage has a long history in New Market. Housed in the 8 W. Main St. building where the historic Mealey’s Restaurant existed for nearly a century until it closed in 2009, Vintage opened its doors in 2022. The original Vintage restaurant opened in the space in 2014 and had six years of success as a purveyor of Southern comfort food and spirits. That Vintage closed in March 2020 and had aimed to reopen as an events space later that year, but the pandemic canceled that plan. Now under new management, Vintage offers hearty, yet elegant, comfort food suitable for family dinner or a special occasion, as well as a well-stocked bar with unique specialty cocktails. Seasonal delights change every few months and reflect what’s fresh for that time of year. They join a long list of signature cocktails, such as the Blackberry Bourbon Smash, Main Street Spritz, and New Market Old Fashioned.
Just minutes away
Tree Trekkers, an outdoor aerial adventure ropes and zipline park, is located just outside of New Market, and offers 16 high-ropes trails with eight difficulty levels for ages 7 and older. The park, at 9560 Old National Pike, is open March through December.
Another short drive from town is Adventure Park USA, a state-of-the-art amusement park opened by Larry Stottlemyer in 2005. The 17.5-acre theme park, at 11113 W. Baldwin Road, Monrovia, features a 22,000 square-foot building with indoor activities such as an arcade with more than 75 games, an indoor ropes course and laser tag game. Outside you’ll find two 18- hole mini golf courses and three roller coasters. Also on the grounds is the Whistle Stop Smokehouse and Saloon, where visitors can find snacks and meals during their visit.
New Market Plains Vineyards, owned and operated by winemakers Howard and Susan Wilson, is located on the former estate of Nicholas Hall, Sr., the co-founder of New Market. The farm, at 11111 W. Baldwin Road, has been in Susan’s family since the 1760s. Its vineyards produce Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Muscat Blanc, Petit Verdot and Syrah.
Wine is available by the glass or bottle from noon to 5 p.m., Fridays and Sundays, and noon to 6 p.m. on Saturdays. Live music is scheduled from 2 to 5 p.m. every Saturday. Many of the property’s old outbuildings remain intact or restored, including a stone dairy/icehouse, a log smokehouse with a slate roof, a log chicken house, frame general store/tenant house, and barns.
By Ellyn Wexler