The Alpha Building – Crisfield, MD

This photo was taken Downtown Crisfield, it’s now the corner of W. Main & 11th St. While the date at the top of the bldg says 1883, there was another one constructed in this exact location more than 15 years years prior when the entire area was still water & the train rode on an elevated trestle bridge to reach the Steamboat Wharf (Depot).

Capt. Jacob Cullen(1838-1927) drove the pilings for the 1st bldg, it was along the north side of the railroad tracks in water 9′ deep but the area was quickly filled in around it.Capt. Cullen operated a mercantile store there with a Jonathan Hearn. Cullen sold his interests to Hearn, who eventually partnered with brothers from the Tawes Family, who would become sole owners & operating under the name ‘J.P. Tawes & Bro.’ A newer store was built later in this location which still exists & has recently been renovated & is the location of the Somerset County Arts Council.

A Comment of our FB Page from George Tawes about the move photo:

“It is my understanding that Cullen and Hearn was the original business in that location? That firm was owned by Jacob Cullen and Jonathan A. Hearn. The original building was built of wood and I believe was destroyed in a fire in 1883. The store was built back in brick in 1883 and was supposedly the first brick building built in Crisfield. Hence the lettering in brick on the facade, 1883 Alpha. I have the Ledger for that firm dated 1872. The year that the City of Crisfield was chartered. My great grandfather, standing in front of the center post, John Pearson Tawes, originally worked in a store in Mathews Court House (Westville) Va. in the 1870’s where he met and married my g. grandmother Mary Susan White. He returned to his hometown, Crisfield, and worked for Mr. Cullen and Mr. Hearn. On 22 February 1879 Mr. Hearn bought out Mr. Cullen and my g. grandfather witnessed the transfer of the inventory and accounts in the back of the ledger. The firm / business became J. A. Hearn & Co. On 8 August 1888 my g. grandfather John P. Tawes and his brother Oliver C. (Copeland) Tawes purchased the business and premisses from Jonathan A. and Alice Hearn and the firm became J.P. Tawes & Bro. The business was also operated by my grandfather John Maurice Tawes, and his cousin John Edwin “Coopie” Tawes, and my uncle Maurice Dana Tawes. I closed the business on 24 February 2007. The current building is owned by my cousin John Willard “Jay” Tawes. The small building to the left in this old picture was Simonson’s Drug store and that property was purchased and incorporated into property upon which the current building was built in 1957.

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