The former Opera House at 140 E. Main St. in Westminster, built in 1858, sold at auction Thursday for $305,000.

Marek Bialobrzeski placed the winning bid on the property, which he said he has admired for years. He did not purchase it when it was up for auction in 2014, and said he considered it “the one that got away.”


“We want to be good neighbors,” he said Thursday, accompanied by his wife after the conclusion of the auction that lasted just a few minutes. They want to preserve the historic property, though they are not sure just what they will do with it yet, he said.

The starting bid was $200,000. After speaking to the property owner on the phone, auctioneer Jon Levinson of JHL Auctioneers LLC, said, “I’ve just consulted with the owner. He thought it would bring considerably more than this today. But he’s made a decision. It’s absolutely going to change ownership. We’re going to sell it to the highest bidder.”

According to auction results from A.J. Billing and Co. auctioneers, the property previously sold at auction on Oct. 28, 2014, for $330,000.

A small crowd gathered to watch the results of the auction Thursday. Beforehand, they were permitted to tour the three-story property, which most recently housed Opera House Printing. The top floor houses a penthouse apartment including a pool, a solarium and lush retro carpeting.

The building, a notably tall addition to Main Street when it was built, is 20,650 square feet. The bottom two floors still show signs of the building’s former life as a printing company, with shelving and a few posters for past events like the Maryland Wine Festival. In the life of the building, it has served many uses including an oyster bar, a library, a sewing factory for the company English American, and the site of the company Opera House Printing after George E. Trump purchased it in 1975.

The property falls within the downtown business zone, offering a lot of flexibility for different uses, listing agent Julie Van of JHL Auctioneers LLC said Wednesday. Because the property is historic, there are also tax credits available for people who want to renovate it, she said.

Bialobrzeski said he also owns a office building on Main Street in Westminster. The couple also own a historic home in Finksburg that they have preserved and renovated. Bialobrzeski said it is tied to the man who gave the area its name.

Though he was pleased by the price he paid for the property, he didn’t know whether he would commit to purchasing it when he arrived at the auction Thursday.

“I need to go calm down,” he said with a laugh.