HOT HOUSE: ‘Lauretum’  954 High Street, Chestertown, Kent County, MD. 21620

Queen Anne-style Victorian, stucco over brick, built in 1881. Well-maintained and currently run as The Lauretum Inn, a bed and breakfast, with nine bedrooms and 6 1/2 baths, on 6 acres near the Chester River: $932,500

What: An architectural masterpiece in the exuberant, eclectic style of Queen Anne, as well as a beacon to Maryland history buffs. Lauretum,, the name means ‘laurel-grove’, was built in 1881 by Harrison W. Vickers, son of Maryland Senator George Vickers, and paid for by a $75,000 win in the Louisiana Lottery. (Senator Vickers, on his deathbed, cast the deciding vote against the impeachment of President Andrew Jackson.) Designed by Baltimore-based, internationally known architect Edmund G. Lind, Lauretum was one of the first architect-designed homes of its period in Chestertown, and it looks like Mr. Lind gave it everything he had. Mansard roof with jerkin-head gables, towers (including one ‘secret’ tower), double-tiered porches, plaster moldings, striped mahogany floors, interior shutters, beaded paneling, formal fireplaces etc.  But don’t be intimidated by all the history and gables –Lauretum is a warm, comfortable home. From the wide verandas overlooking the park-like grounds, to the new gourmet kitchen, and modern –- yes, modern — bathrooms,  it’s an idyllic spot by any standard. The floor plan is surprisingly open and unstructured. Large, sunny rooms lead toward that stunning kitchen and out onto the south-facing porch. The house has a second kitchen and laundry room, which are the only concessions to its B&B status. It could be un-B&Bd quite easily – just take down the sign and call it home.

Where:  Lauretum sits high on six acres above Chestertown, a mile or so from town, adjacent to Washington College and the Chester River. High Street runs up from the pleasant downtown, where spring, summer and fall, visitors keep things humming.  To get there from Baltimore, take Rt. 50 to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, then north on 301. Exit to 213 North. It’s about 1 ½ hours from Baltimore and Washington D.C.  Founded in 1706, Chestertown has a year-round population of about 4,500. 

Why:  Eastern shore lifestyle. Farmers markets. Chance to become a leading light of Chestertown society.   

Would Suit:  People who’ve always wanted to run a B&B (there’s more of them around then you might think). Urbanites looking for a unique summer experience.  

NB: Winters might be a little slow.