The Calvin B. Taylor House was built by 1832 for Isaac Covington and his family who lived here during the Civil War. The Covingtons also owned plantations in Snow Hill and traded in the West Indies. Isaac’s estate inventory suggests he was a store owner.
Another early occupant was Robert J. Henry, a local businessman who owned a farm near today’s Stephen Decatur Park and used this home as a town house. He was instrumental in bringing the railroad to Berlin.
The most famous occupant of this house was Calvin B. Taylor. Mr. Taylor was a teacher, lawyer and founder of the Calvin B. Taylor Banking Company. He and his wife Mattie lived here from the 1890s until his death in 1932. During their occupancy they made several changes to the house including a back wing addition and the installation of stained glass windows.
After the Taylors the house had several different owners. It was an apartment house in the 1970s. In the early 1980s it was unoccupied and was to be demolished to make a parking lot.
The Berlin Heritage Foundation was founded in November 1981 by a group of citizens interested in saving this house. They convinced the Mayor and Town Council to purchase the house and lot in 1982 for $35,000.00 and to turn it over to the Foundation to administer as a town museum. Over $100,000.00 was raised from the community and private donations for restoration. This historic house museum opened for a preview tour on October 2, 1983.
Prior to 1800 Berlin was called Stevenson’s Crossroads, for the Stevenson family who were local landowners.
The principal part of the town is built on a tract of land called Burley, patented in 1677 by William Tomkins. Because Burley had an inn, it was a popular crossroads between Salisbury and Trappe, also Philadelphia and Cape Charles, and became known as Burley Inn. This was later shortened to Ber lin (accent on the first syllable).
The downtown area had three devastating fires in 1895, 1902 and 1904. This area is now a National Register Historic District. Some of the older buildings in town include Burley Manor and Burley Cottage, located on South Main Street and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, “Robins Nest” on West Street, the Chandler House on North Main Street across from the Museum, and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Church Street (1825).
Stephen Decatur was born here in 1779.
Some of the most successful industries here were Harrison Nurseries, the Berlin Milling Company and Phillips Cannery.
The first school here, Buckingham Academy, a boys’ boarding school, was established in 1765 by Rev. Charles Tennent, a Presbyterian minister whose grave site is in Buckingham Cemetary.
Calvin B. Taylor | Charles Albert Tindley | Edward H. Hammond Jr. | Isaiah Fassett | Jesse R. Hollins | John Postly | Senator Orlando Harrison | Stephen Decatur | The Isaac Covington Family | William D. Pitts