Historic Annapolis property for sale at $1.1M

Shanteé Woodards
Contact Reporterswoodards@capgaznews.com
For sale in Annapolis: 1880s-era house with wood burning stove, antique refrigerator

John Hartman wants to retire and his plans don't include Holly, the Abbey or the Little Star.

Those are the three rooms that make up the Charles Inn, the bed and breakfast he and his late wife bought and restored 25 years ago. He continues to operate the business and is booked up through October, but the one-time butcher is ready for retirement.

The roughly 130-year-old house went on the market last week for $1.1. million. Hartman owns the business after selling the property last year to Juan Himes, who will be moving away.

When Hartman and his wife, Paula Jeanne Ginnetty, found the house at 74 Charles St., they were looking to start new careers. Ginnetty, who had been a special education teacher, fell in love with the property and thought a bed and breakfast would be the best move.

They came up with a plan to let out three of its rooms and capitalize on its turn-of-the-century vibe with features like a wood burning stove and antique refrigerator. The bedrooms are named after the cats that have lived there over the years. Now only one remains, 20-year-old Max, short for Maximum, as in no more cats.

"I don't take credit for any of this stuff. I just keep it up as best I can," Hartman said. "Once you have a bed and breakfast, you can't get out. You always have to be home and wait on guests. After 25 years, it's about time to start enjoying life."

The three-story house dates to 1882 and is on an L-shaped lot with a pier on Spa Creek. It is just over 2,000 square feet with a driveway, unfinished basement, four bedrooms and four en suite bathrooms. It is three blocks away from Main Street, which could make it ideal for anyone who wanted access to downtown Annapolis, real estate agent Mike Murray said.

"It's one of the few places down there that has kept its original character ... It has an Annapolis historic feel to it," said Murray, of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage's Murray Home Team. His firm listed the property.

"It's really an endless scenario. There are too many types of buyers to nail down one. I think most likely it'll be someone who wants the historic charm of it and will probably put an additional investment into upgrading it to its original glory."

The house was built for property owner John W. Smith, and his family owned and occupied it for 75 years. At the time of its construction, it was the first free-standing, single-family dwelling on that lot, according to the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties.

Connie Del Signore, head of the Annapolis & Anne Arundel County Conference & Visitors Bureau, said the city has had a couple of bed and breakfasts close in the last couple of years and she is always sad to see them go. The long hours and competition from Airbnb, which has several properties in the Annapolis area, makes it even more difficult, she said.

"When you have a business like the Charles Inn that has a client base, a personality and is run by lovely people, it always a bit sad to see them go," Del Signore said. "It has to come from love. You have to love being an innkeeper at a bed and breakfast or it doesn't work."

Over the years, the Charles Inn's guests have included tourists and boaters for the annual boat shows, as well as visiting families from the Naval Academy and St. John's College. There were times that Ginnetty and Hartman slept in the kitchen to accommodate guests.

Ginnetty was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, and it became difficult to operate the business, Hartman said. In 2012, he closed the inn and his wife died in fall 2013. He reopened it last year.

In retirement, Hartman plans to spend more time with Suzanne O'Brien, a companion he met from ALS support groups. Her husband also died from the disease. He will plan the closure of the Charles Inn after the property is sold. The inn still has a guestbook listing people who have stayed there over the years.

"All the people, all the guests, they make all the work worthwhile," Hartman said. "They're the most pleasant people in the world. I still want to get out and do a little exploring with Suzanne."

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