Costen House, A Brief History
Costen House was built by Dr. Costen shortly after the Civil War and was lived in by members of his family for over a century. It is sponsored by the Spirit of Newtown Committee, founded in 1974, Myrtle A. Polk and a group of public-spirited citizens, when the home was threatened by demolition.
Dr. Costen was born on October 10, 1832 in Somerset County. Maryland, the son of William and Rosa Taylor Costen. He was educated at Washington Academy in Princess Anne and received his medical degree from Penn Medical College in Philadelphia in 1857.
During the Civil War, in addition to his medical duties, he was a Confederate blockade runner, carrying food and supplies at great personal risk across the lower Chesapeake Bay to the Hampton Roads area. He was also noted for his work with typhoid fever and stories abound of the good doctor traveling on horseback through the swamps during a severe typhus epidemic.
He came to live in Pocomoke, then known as Newtown, after the close of the Civil War. In l866, he married Miss Olivia Adams. They had seven children: Rose. Eleanor, Mary, William, Addie, Olivia, and Elizabeth.
At the time he was elected mayor of Pocomoke City in 1888, Dr. Costen had already served fifteen years on the Democratic State Central Committee. He had been elected to the Maryland State Legislature in 1881, where he served only one term, citing his patients' needs as the reason for not returning to Annapolis. He was a trustee of Pocomoke High School and an Elder and Trustee of Pitts Creek Presbyterian Church. He served two terms as mayor, 1888-1892 and in 1908 was again elected mayor to serve two more terms. Dr. Costen died at his home on April 1, 1931, just six months short of his 99th birthday.
The Hall-Walton Memorial Garden
Two people who took an interest in the preservation of Costen House were Ernest and Julia Hall Walton. Both were Pocomoke City natives, and Julia, a cousin of the Costen children, had grown up in a big brick house around the corner from Costen House. She had happy memories of playing in the adjoining gardens as a child and her lovely wedding there in the early twentieth century. They had a dream of one day restoring the garden in their families' memory.
Fashion Accessories in Costen House EraThe Hall home had long ago passed out of the Hall family, and had been demolished. Later, when the land was sold, only two beautiful crepe myrtles remained of the once lovely garden. In 1979, Mrs. Walton, widowed and in her 90's, bought the land and deeded it to the Spirit of Newtown Committee. Her dream had come true.
The lot was cleared, and a variety of trees and shrubs were planted. A curved brick walk and Charleston Battery benches were added, and a Phortina hedge marked the perimeter of the garden. A special fragrance garden was dedicated to Mrs. Walton's generosity. On May Day, 1983, she was the guest of honor at the garden dedication. A year later, the Pocomoke River Garden Club gave a Victorian gazebo in memory of Mrs. Walton and their own departed members.
The Hall-Walton Garden, like Costen House, is a legacy which must be preserved for future generations.
Costen House and the Hall-Walton Garden are managed under the
auspices of the Spirit of Newtown Committee, Inc. whose mission
is the preservation of these properties in order to exhibit the
life of a small town and Doctor I. T. Costen and his family as
they lived from 1870-1920.
The most serious and pressing needs currently are:
The foundation under the back portion of the house (kitchen) is sinking and the entire structure above is separating from the main house.
The roof has been patched and re-patched until there is no further option except to remove the old roofing material and install new. The contractor told us two years ago that we would be lucky if the current patches held for two years.
The entrance to the basement is an added on structure. The roof slopes toward the house, trapping moisture. The siding has begun to rot. The structure needs to be removed and rebuilt, and the siding replaced.
The entire structure badly needs painting.
As you can see, we are in dire need of any funds we can raise, and we are most appreciative of this opportunity.
We hope you will consider making a contribution, and thank you in advance for your support of this effort.