Historic Abell Mansion built for Baltimore Sun owner up for auction

The historic mansion that once belonged to the son of philanthropist and Baltimore Sun founder Arunah S. Abell will be up for auction this month.

George W. Abell took over his father’s company as president and publisher in 1887, but died before the mansion was completed in 1894. Now, after years on and off the market, The Abell Mansion will be auctioned off onsite June 23 at 11 a.m. without a minimum bid.

The approximately 13,000-square-foot estate is located at 703 Abell Ridge Circle in Towson. It was listed for $3.89 million in 2013 by Chris Dahdah of Hill & Co. Realtors, then again last summer by Monument Sotheby’s International Realty for $2.9 million. But Charlie Hatter, co-principal at the international real estate company, said traffic from the auction may attract more interested buyers.

“Once people see the craftsmanship and the quality of the home, we feel like a family will want it,” Hatter said.

The Beaux Arts mansion, which combines classical Greek and Roman architecture with Renaissance themes, was restored in 2003 by Marc Munafo, president of CAM Construction, for more than $1 million. An online photo gallery of the estate reveals ornate hand-carved woodwork, a curved dual staircase and original stained glass windows preserved from the 19th century.

“The craftsmanship of what has been preserved is spectacular,” Hatter said. “The woodwork through the entire property, along with the marble surrounds are extremely valuable.”

The yellow-bricked mansion sits on 1.5 acres of land in a gated community off North Charles Street. It boasts six bedrooms, five full bathrooms, a gourmet kitchen, home theater, 10 fireplaces, an observation tower and a uniquely American wraparound porch.

Real estate company Elite Auctions will manage the auction.

Arunah S. Abell started The Baltimore Sun in 1837. His friends thought he was out of his mind for moving from New England to Baltimore — a city saturated with six daily publications — to start his own penny paper.

Within seven months, the four-page tabloid had 12,000 daily readers, more than its competitors combined. Unlike most penny papers at the time, The Sun covered local news relevant to readers.

After Abell died in 1888, his son George took over the newspaper. He ran the company with his brother Edwin, until his own death in 1894.

The Abell Mansion remained in the family until 1955 when it opened as a school for children with learning disabilities. After The Ridge School moved in 2000, Munafo purchased the historic mansion for his own family.

llumpkin@baltsun.com

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