The early decade of the 20th century was the “golden age” of steamships on the Chesapeake Bay. Some catered exclusively to Western Shore city residents who wanted a weekend or a summer vacation on the Eastern Shore to escape the heat of summer. Today’s feature began its life as the “Hilltop Hotel” that welcomed seasonal travelers to its 4.74 acre property. Two years ago, the building and its property underwent a significant renovation without compromising any of the estate’s original historic charm.
As I drove up the access drive that circles around the building to reach the top of its hillside location, I admired how the building’s white siding, dark window trim, door trim and mansard roof stands out against its background of mature trees, manicured lawn and flowering shrubbery. From the angle of the sun, I imagined that the building offers stunning sunsets from seating along its porch that wraps around three sides of the building to also take advantage of the gentle breezes from the Chesapeake Bay.
The building’s one room deep layout with multiple windows and doors offer views of the surrounding landscape. Along with the wrap-around porch, the spacious brick terrace offers another outdoor room for enjoyment of the outdoors. The terrace is well situated for indoor/outdoor flow with pairs of French doors from the living room and the kitchen as well as single doors from the main entry foyer and the mud room.
The half glass, half paneled front door with its original transom opens into the large foyer with a mix of antiques and other wood pieces that create a welcoming space to greet guests. The dark wood of the stair’s balustrade and furnishings contrasts nicely with the beautiful wood floors that have been restored to their original beauty. A powder room is discretely tucked under the stairs to the second floor.
An original door leads from the foyer to the living room that spans the depth of the house. The white window treatments blend into walls of a deeper hue to reflect the sunlight. The large multi-colored Oriental rug sets up the seating arrangement with a stylish collection of eclectic furnishings including the roll top desk, Scandinavian chairs, wood bench and leather sofa that invites one to linger. Accents of the open hanging shelves, the exposed brick chimney and the door to the foyer that was not completely refinished adds additional charm.
Opposite the foyer is the combo family-dining area with another exterior door to the porch. The sofa in the seating area wraps around the front corner of the room with two front and one side windows overlooking the porch. Like the one in my house, the former sewing machine base is the perfect height for an end table and the long mirror on the wall behind the dining area expands the space.
The kitchen is sunny and bright from the front window and the rear pair of French doors leading to the terrace. The spacious layout with its “L” and island arrangement, white cabinets and countertops and stainless steel appliances contrast with the beautiful wood floors.
Opposite the island is a long row of base cabinets that provides extra storage and serves as a buffet for the adjacent dining room. Door openings at both sides of the cabinetry expedites the flow between the rooms. The mix of open wood shelves, closed and upper glass fronted cabinets is a very pleasant design touch.
Between the family-dining area and the kitchen is a mud room with exterior doors to both the rear yard and the porch and a second set of stairs to the second floor.
There are three bedrooms and two baths on the second floor and the spacious primary bedroom includes the second set of stairs to the first floor. Two windows on both of the room’s two exterior walls brings sunlight and offers bird’s eye views of landscape. The pencil post bedframe with a dark wood tone and the neutral tones of the room with accents of the bed throw and the pillows create a serene space.
White is the color of cleanliness and the spacious primary bath with its stylish updates of black and white tile flooring, slender dual lavatory cabinet with dual mirrors, sleek black hardware, glass fronted shower and linen closet creates a very appealing space for two to easily share.
The second floor contains two other bedrooms and a hall bath that are located at the front of the house.
The third floor’s charming interior architecture is shaped by the mansard shaped roof that is one of my fave architectural styles with its steep lower portion of the roof and low knee walls that maximize the floor space. Stairs lead to the corner sitting room with windows on three sides for views of the landscape’s tree tops. The exposed brick chimney is a textured sculptural element and the wrap-around sofas provide ample seating for relaxing or watching TV. Opposite the stairs is a large bedroom at the front corner of the house. Two other bedrooms are arranged along the hall at the side wall of the house with a bath at the end of the hall.
If I were a guest, I would claim the peace and quiet of this corner bedroom on the third floor with its black and white theme of the iron bedframe and patterns of the duvet and wallpapered accent wall that creates a restful retreat. The wood nightstand and blue ottoman add warmth and color to the space.
Conveniently located between Chestertown’s amenities and Rock Hall’s marina and beach, this property is zoned “Crossroads Commercial” so a B&B use is possible but I believe it could also be a wonderful family home. There appears to be enough space to add an elevator to the foyer to access all three floors of the for whatever use the next steward would desire for this unique building. The meticulous restoration/renovation with significant upgrades of this house and grounds is an important part of ongoing efforts to preserve Kent County’s past. Bravo to the current owners for their contribution!
For more information about this property, contact Retha Arrabal with Doug Ashley Realtors at 410-810-0010 (o), 410-708-2172 (c) or [email protected], “Equal Housing Opportunity”.
Photography by Janelle Stroup, Thru the Lens Photography, 410-310-6838, [email protected]
Jennifer Martella has pursued dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. She has reestablished her architectural practice for residential and commercial projects and is a referral agent for Meredith Fine Properties. Her Italian heritage led her to Piazza Italian Market, where she hosts wine tastings every Friday and Saturday afternoons.