Its stately exterior hides over a century of secrets: the building started out as a modest residence in 1810 adjacent to the Whitehaven Ferry, one of the oldest publicly run ferries in the U.S.
At the time, Whitehaven was still looking forward to its hey day of the late 1800s, when what is now a very sleepy village of some 26 homes was a vibrant riverfront community with shipyards, a canning factory, a new school and church, and several stores. It's hard to imagine now.
By the 1880s, steamboat travelers disembarking at the Whitehaven wharf created a demand for temporary lodging, and the modest two-and-a-half story residence was enlarged and converted to a hotel. An adjacent store building was moved and attached to enlarge the hotel, and the building received a mansard roof and wrap-around porch.
|Wine and cheese are served in the afternoons.|
A decade later, and wings were attached, and again two decades after that, the hotel enlarged again. Eventually, the building housed a general store, telegraph office, post office, and saloon.
|The view from the third floor balcony/roof patio.|
But as the steamboat era closed in the 1930s, Whitehaven’s waterfront industry slowed, enjoying a brief resurgence during WWI, but by the end of WWII, the village had became a backwater, and the hotel once again became a private residence.
Vacant between 1982 and 1994, several well-meaning but misguided attempts to restore the building after decades of neglect did even more damage, and it was on the verge of demolition, but several preservationists rescued the building, and returned the Whitehaven Hotel to its glory and it re-opened in 1997 as a bed and breakfast inn.
|The parlor is the oldest part of the inn.|
There is so much to do for those staying at the bed and breakfast inn, without getting into your vehicle. The roads nearby the inn are flat and very uncrowded, inviting cyclists to venture out to explore the salt flats across the river (simply take the free ferry ride over) or the marshes and farmland on the same side of the river as the inn.
There's an interesting bike ride route: the Ferry to Ferry Ride, about 25 miles long.
|Geese on the Wicomico River.|
There's also kayaking along the Wicomico River itself (ask the innkeeper about the tides), but even with the tides, if you hug the shore and venture up into the inlets or creeks feeding the river, you'll find plenty of interesting scenery for a hours of happy paddling.
For dinner, just three miles away, there's the Red Roost and when the weather is lovely, the Bull-Lips Dock Bar and Grill, right on the banks of the Wicomico River, where you can watch the water flow by to the sounds of local bands, sipping an Orange Crush.
|On a beautiful evening, the fire-pit is lit and the chairs inviting at Bull-Lips Dock Bar.|
Oh, and have I mentioned it's haunted? <squeals with delight> We weren't in this lovely Victorian bed and breakfast inn five minutes before we learned that it might be haunted. The innkeeper recounted numerous experiences, including hearing a child laugh, hand-prints on a bed she'd just made, and other ghostly high-jinks that seemed to indicate a young prankster of a ghost. She recounted the story of a young girl drowning in the waters nearby (the inn is almost completely surrounded by water, as a marshy creek flows behind the inn's back parking lots).
|One of the two beds in "Rob's Room"|
I had my pendulum in my camera bag, from a previous ghost hunting experience, so we decided to have a mini-ghost hunt in our room. Through a question and answer session, the pendulum indicated we were chatting with a 13-year-old girl, who was not alone -- there also was another female spirit who was unfriendly to the 13-year-old spirit but liked the visitors to the inn.
The young spirit -- or possibly the older female one -- indicated she was waiting, not for her parents or siblings, but for a young man, who had NOT gone away because of a war but possibly died in a boating or fishing boat accident. When we tried to figure out the ghost's name, the pendulum spelled out "me."
But what's even odder, is that my friend recounted feeling someone play with her hair during the night. We stayed in "Rob's Room" with its two single beds in opposite corners. I slept soundly and oblivious in my corner!
Gourmet breakfasts are served in the dining room each morning. We delighted in the Dutch baby pancake covered with sauteed peaches, served alongside scrambled eggs and bacon.
Innkeeper Cindy happily shared her recipe for the Dutch baby with us!
1 cup milk (2% or whole)
1 tsp lemon extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Mix eggs in blender at high speed for 1 minute. Slowly add milk and lemon extract. Slowly add flowur (one tablespoon at a time). Let rest for 1 to 2 minutes. Add butter in 7-inch pie plate or cast iron skillet and heat in oven until butter melts. Pour egg mixture into the pie plate or skillet and bake 20 - 25 minutes. Baby should puff and turn golden brown. 4 servings.
Getting there: 2685 Whitehaven Rd, Quantico, MD 21856