Hot House: 801 N. Arlington Avenue, Baltimore MD 21217
Second Empire Italianate-style mansion, circa 1868, brick with slate mansard roof and two extended porticos. Three stories, 7,200 sq. ft. with 18 rooms, including formal living and dining rooms, multiple fireplaces, hardwood floors. House is in poor condition and requires total renovation. .1 acre lot: $10,000 (minimum bid)
Auction: Thursday, June 9 at 11 a.m., at the Radisson Hotel, Cross Keys. Contact ajbillig.com for more information.
What: A bizarre story that needs a happy ending. Matthew Bacon Sellers made millions in the 1830’s as a Louisiana slaveholder and plantation owner. After the Civil War, he was invited to become a trustee of Baltimore’s Northern Central Railroad, moved to Baltimore and built this house. At the exorbitant cost of $75,000, it was among the finest and most lavish of its day. According to a 1955 story from the Baltimore Afr0-American, Sellers built a trellis to shield his view of the house next door, and then left on an extended European tour. When he returned in 1875, he discovered that “irate neighbors had torn down the trellis, complaining that it blocked the air and sunlight.” In retaliation, Sellers constructed a 25′ long, 40-foot high “spite wall,” complete with tower, between his house and the neighbors. As of 1955, the spite wall was still standing, although Sellers died in 1918 at the age of 80. By then, the family had gained a reputation as eccentrics, although one son, also named Matthew, was an inventor and pioneer in the early days of aviation. A second son, Samuel, and a daughter, Annabel, took a world tour in the 1920s. When they returned, they never left the house again. A Baltimore Sun article by Fred Rasmussen in 2001 reported that trunks found in the attic contained dresses from Paris, worth hundreds of dollars, and never worn. A neighbor brought meals on a tray when Samuel signaled her by closing a shutter on the front of the house. The brother and sister lived in the house as recluses and both died here in the 1950s. Neither ever married, and “the only person who ever entered the house was a man to read the gas meter.” A nephew, who still lives in Baltimore, discovered Samuel’s body, clad in a 23-year-old suit. Don’t let this happen to you….
Where: 801 N. Arlington Avenue is on the corner of W. Lanvale Street, facing Lafayette Square Park. The 2.2-acre park is a located in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood of West Baltimore, near the St. James Episcopal Church, which owned it for many years. The mansion is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Why: You only go around once in life.
Why Not: House just taking up space that could be used for a brand new casino.
Would Suit: Location scout for horror series.
NB: Diamonds were found hidden in old trunks here, and Confederate bills stashed in dark corners. Check under the floorboards…
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