Nelson Homestead telescope House

Save This Old c.1836 Nelson Homestead Telescope House on 9.25 Acres Eastern Shore MD Under $75K – 50 Min to Ocean Beaches

  $74,999 Sold on Sept. 23, 2021 for $65,000 On the Market Again $74,999

Agent Comments

Don’t miss this one of a kind property is a historical gem in dire need of saving! as you step in the front door You are transported back into time . Built in the 1820’s also known as the Nelson Homestead! (The Telescoped design Home) boasting a deep documented history, the home is listed on Maryland’s top ten list of endangered historical properties. With some love and attention it could be restored back to its former glory. Please see documents for full scope of work. Situated on over 9 acres of natural beauty, there is plenty of room for fishing, camping and getting back to nature. The property is close to the waterfront town of Crisfield. Attractions nearby include Sommer’s Cove Marina and Janes Island State Park. Make sure you look through the documents attached to learn even more about the property! Don’t miss your chance to own a piece of history. Purchase includes parcels 27 & 29, Tax map 72.





 2020 Listing

Family History

The Nelson Homestead telescope house, also known as the Elisha Riggin House, was built around 1836 by Crisfield shipbuilder Elisha Riggin. The Riggin family was one of the early families of Maryland, immigrating from Ireland to the Chespeake Colonies in the mid 17th century, settling along the Pocomoke Sound. William Nelson and his wife Ellen Riggin, a relative of Elisha Riggin,  purchased the house from Elisha in 1843. It happily remained in the Nelson family until 1966.

A previous owner, Jennifer Ferguson Smith of the band Naked Blue was working on restoring the building and utilizing it as an artist retreat, music education and heritage tourism site.

Jenifer Ferguson Smith

Architectural History

Per Wikipedia:

“The three-part wood frame structure rests on a brick pier foundation and is covered by a series of gable roofs. The main part of the house is a three bay structure with a central door. It is attached to a two bay two story structure with central door and a lower roofline, with a two-bay one-story kitchen wing attached. A large brick chimney rises from the east end of the main block and a smaller stack protrudes through the east end of the kitchen wing. About 95% of the original interior woodwork is intact along with some early paint schemes. The finely crafted house is sheathed in cypress and cedar weatherboards and features late Federal style mantels, doors, chair rails and cupboards. The main room of the house has raised panel wainscoting and over-mantel paneling that survives with an early layer of tiger-maple graining. Also on the property is a small frame outbuilding with a gable roof and a family cemetery.

Several other “telescope” style houses remain on the lower Eastern Shore of Maryland, but this house stands out as one of the least altered examples with highly unusual woodwork. Unlike most telescope style houses on the Eastern Shore all three blocks of this one appear to have been built at the same time. Due to construction features, mature cut nails, and some Greek Revival influence in part of the woodwork, it is thought the house was built as late as 1836 with paneling traditions and Federal mantel designs that were common in earlier decades. The Elisha Riggin House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. In 2014 it was included in the top 10 most important endangered historic properties by Preservation Maryland / Endangered Maryland.”

Per Wood and Stone Retreat:

“The Nelson Homestead has been designated one of the top 10 most important endangered sites in Maryland by Preservation Maryland. It is tucked away on a very private 9.25 acres of meadow, woods and marshland, and is considered architecturally significant because of its craftsmanship and the fact that 90% of the original structure and millwork are still intact. It is on the National and State Historic registers. Architectural and soil engineer reports, scope of work plans, and previous bids for rehabilitation work are available to the next steward of this wonderful property. It is zoned residential / educational. This is a project house. Serious inquiries only. A small gabled frame building accompanies the house. Located at the east side of the property is a Riggin and Wilson family cemetery fenced with Victorian period railing.” 



Looking to own a private retreat that happens to be a historic treasure. The Nelson Homestead is one of Maryland’s treasures that is in need of help. The 1800’s telescope house needs to be raised and brought back to its original splendor. The property has a rich history and we have the documentation to back it up.


Over 8 acres of sanctuary touching Johnson Creek. Located close to Crisfield’s attractions such as Somer’s Cove Marina, Janes Island State Park and the depot where daily cruises to Smith and Tangier Island depart. Enjoy the solitude or offer camping space for ecotourism. The possibilities are as bountiful as the wildlife. Purchase includes parcels 27 & 29 , Tax map 72


  • Patrick McCann

    I love these houses, I wish I had the time, money and energy to restore these properties. They are only here once and once they are gone, that’s it. Unfortunately the younger generation has virtually no desire to restore these homes. I have seen way too many torn down. And they alltell a story.

  • Nicole

    I could certainly purchase this one, but the buy price would have to come down – what was restored on it ? What are the full taxes? I see it has other parcels of land with it /so all in what are the property taxes?

  • Sherry Hood

    Every time I see this house I just fall in love all over again. The old cemetery is a major bonus to me. I just love it. Wish it was in the south somewhere. I’m a southern girl and can no deal with cold weather. I hope someone buys it and lovingly restores it as it should be.

  • Rebecca Van Hout

    Oh am I tempted as I am a descendant of the Riggin family from this area. But a bit out of my abilities to restore. Has such potential!

  • rob colando

    What a shame that this home is probably beyond restoration. I know for a fact that the home has to be raised about 4′ and the state requires that you not just pier it but add thousands of yards of clean fill to actually raise the ground level under and surounding the home. Then you need to get approval for a septic system and well, If it was just a matter of home restoration it would be easy beeezy. Blame local codes and state regulations for the demise of this fabulous historical home.

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