History of the Lore Oyster House
J.C. Lore and Sons of Solomons was one of the largest and most successful seafood packing companies in Southern Maryland. Founded by Joseph C. Lore Sr. at the height of the Chesapeake oyster industry in 1888, the company specialized in packing and shipping Patuxent River fish, crabs, and oysters.
The present building replaced one that was destroyed by an August 1933 hurricane. It has been expanded several times and, in its heyday, employed about 65 people. After World War II, the company specialized in shucking and packing fresh oysters.
Many shuckers and watermen left the oyster industry because they were able to get better paying jobs with the military when WWII began to influence Southern Maryland. A combination of pollution, disease, and over-harvesting caused the region’s oyster population to crash in the late 20th century and led to the closure of many of the local seafood processing and packing businesses. The decline in the local oysters and difficulty in recruiting new oyster shuckers caused J.C. Lore & Sons to close in 1978.
Oyster shuckers at the J.C. Lore & Sons were mainly local African American women and men who were paid a set rate for each gallon of oysters they opened. An experienced shucker can open about ten to twelve gallons of oysters per day. The best can produce about two gallons of shucked oysters an hour.
Pay scale from the J. C. Lore & Sons oyster house:
1924 - 25 cents per gallon
1941 - 35 cents per gallon
1952 - $1 per gallon
1974 - $1.50 per gallon