The scheduled sale Tuesday of the Gambrills childhood home of Johns Hopkins, the Baltimore investor, philanthropist and university namesake, was postponed as current and former owners wrangle over the property in court.
Alex Cooper Auctioneers of Towson was set to auction the property, which dates to the 1780s, just before 10 a.m., Tuesday on the steps of the Anne Arundel Circuit Court.
The property was purchased in March 2022 by Johns Hopkins House Inc., a nonprofit led by executive director Bob Brown. The organization has spent six years working to acquire the property, restore it and turn it into a tavern and arboretum. There are also plans to offer scholarships to minority students to pay tribute those who were enslaved at Whites Hall, the plantation on which the house sits.
Brown, however, failed to pay back a loan from the former owners, 2173 Hopkins Road LLC, which led to the nonprofit winding up in foreclosure court and the former owners scheduling it for auction.
On Monday, the two parties filed a joint statement in Anne Arundel Circuit Court announcing the postponement of the auction as they continue to work through their differences.
A future auction date has not been set, Paul Cooper, vice president of Alex Cooper Auctioneers, said in an email.
Hopkins was born at the home in 1795, according to the Maryland Historical Trust, and lived there until he was 17. The house stayed in the family until 1910.
Late last month, Brown said he planned on paying the $168,000 loan back with a $243,000 state grant his organization was allocated to purchase the property in former Gov. Larry Hogan’s last budget.
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As of late July, however, Brown had not completed the paperwork necessary to allow the state to verify the organization was financially responsible. Those documents included affidavits, insurance certificates and tax filings.
Up until May, Brown had never filed proper tax documentation for the nonprofit, which is due annually, despite founding the organization in 2017. When interviewed by the Capital in 2021, he attributed the failure to file to “my own personal lapse.”
He said he didn’t file the documents to the government for the grant because he was out of the state for several months tending to family issues and, when he returned, became concerned his liability insurance may be affected by the age and condition of the house’s utilities.
Meanwhile, according to state documents, Brown, fell behind on mortgage payments and defaulted on the loan. His nonprofit has been in foreclosure court since January. The lender then decided to put the home up for auction.
Brown said his maternal grandmother lived in the house and gave birth to his mother, Margaret Stewart, there in 1920.
Once Brown became aware the house was headed to auction, he hired Annapolis land-use attorney Jonathon Scruggs, who filed multiple motions in Anne Arundel Circuit Court to delay or stop the sale. The attorneys for 2173 Hopkins Road LLC agreed to suspend the sale. Scruggs declined to comment due to the case being ongoing. Attorneys William Heyman and Saul Abrams, representing the former owner, could not be reached for comment.