The Ridgely House
Built in 1867 by one of the town’s founding fathers, James K. Saulsbury, the Ridgely House has a varied and interesting history. It was one of the first of four structures completed in 1867 by the Maryland and Baltimore Land Association who in the Spring of 1867 brought in Mr. J.J. Sickler, a Civil Engineer from Philadelphia, to lay out a plat of the city. Unlike most towns, Ridgely was planned before a single house was built. It was planned not as a country town, but as city laid out with wide streets and avenues, with parks and boulevards, factories and stores and a busy riverfront with docks and shipyards. With the plan completed, the Land Association began construction and the first year saw the erection of four buildings, including a railroad station, hotel and two private residences. One residence was constructed by James K. Saulsbury, and known today as the Ridgely House, first served as Mr. Saulsbury’s residence and general store.
The Ridgely House served as the family home for several generations of Saulsbury’s before Doctor Jessee S. Fifer, MD (1898-1989) purchased the property and established and operated a hospital in the Ridgely House from 1935 to 1945 – the only hospital ever to be established in Caroline County. Several other doctors maintained their practices in the Ridgely House over the years, including Dr. James Keene Saulsbury (the son) and Dr. George Seese White.
The Ridgely House served for a period as a hotel and was subsequently converted to an apartment house before the Commissioners of Ridgely purchased the property in 1997. The Commissioners conducted extensive renovations, closely preserving the historic character of the building. The Ridgely House was dedicated to the citizens of Ridgely in August, 1998 and now serves as the Town Hall.
The Ridgely House exemplifies the historical heritage of the Town of Ridgely and currently houses a collection of early photographs and memorabilia open to the public.