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Monday, July 14, 2014

The "A Trip Down Bohemia Avenue: Part I" Story

Map showing the town of South Chesapeake City, MD
It was an ordinary day.  Carol and I are taking a walk on what we consider the main street in the city of Chesapeake City, MD.  We have been visiting this quaint little town along the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal for over 40 years.  An easy drive of slightly over an hour from our home in Lancaster, PA and a great getaway for a few hours during anytime of the year.  This past weekend Carol and I decided at the last minute to take our new car for a trip to see what kind of gas mileage we could expect on a trip.  Their was a slight breeze with a beautiful, high blue sky and white, wispy clouds.  A beautiful day to share right along the water as we watched the myriad of boats and watercraft go up and down the canal.  Our first stop after parking our car:  The Bayard Inn, one of our favorites.  Ushered down the outside stairs to our seats under an awing, right along the canal.  After an hour and a half of eating, drinking and talking with our waitress, who Carol found out had a horse farm, we decided to walk up one side and down the other of Bohemia Avenue, a walk of  approximately 3 blocks.  Many of the houses show details that were found in Greek Revival architecture from the late 1800s.  I will take you on a tour of Bohemia Street and give you a brief description of some of the many beautifully kept homes on the street.

The Bayard House is seen all decorated for the 4th of July holiday.  Carol and I enjoyed lunch eating along the C&D Canal.  The white awning to the right of the Bayard House was our destination.  The Bayard House is allegedly the oldest building in Chesapeake City.  Samuel Bayard built the original Manor in the early 1780's in what was known as Bohemia Village.  It was named Chesapeake City in 1824 after the Chesapeake & Delaware canal was constructed.  In 1829 the building was turned into a tavern and inn and called Chick's Tavern.  In 1845, under the ownership of Sara Beaston, a stable was added to accommodate traveler's horses.  In 1858 Richard Bayard, a descendant of Samuel Bayard,  purchased the inn and renamed it the Bayard House Inn.  In 1899 it was renamed the Harriott House after the new owner, William Harriott.  When prohibition arrived in 1919 it became a storefront for the sale of tobacco, although other products were sold illegally.  Ten years later, due to financial difficulties, Mr. Harriott hung himself in the hotel.  Capt. Albert Battersby purchased the inn in 1960 and sold it in 1982.  The new owners restored the building to it's original charm starting in 1985 and it has become a favorite dining location along the banks of the canal.
This shows the area behind the area were we ate.  It fringes the canal and gives a fantastic view of the Chesapeake City Bridge. 
This is the 1833 Cropper House that is two doors from the Bayard House.  It was the home of Capt. Kendall Cropper who helped found the town.  The building was also a tin smith's shop, a pool hall, a post office and a gift shop.  The McKeown gallery once occupied the property and I sold my altered Polaroids in the shop until it closed.
This is Franklin Hall which was built in 1870.  During the Revolutionary War the original building was occupied by Chick's Tavern, one of two buildings in Bohemia Village.  In the 1800's Thomas Conrey purchased the site and built this building using localled made bricks.  Over the years the building was a hardware store, harness shop with a stable in the lower back level, a dry-goods store and a meeting location with dances and band practices.  In 1974 the Chesapeake City District Civic Asso. obtained the building and restored it.  The library and arts council were housed here at one time.  Today there is a store in the lower level with a photography studio on the second floor.  Public restrooms are housed in the rear of the building.
This house was known as the Brady-Rees House and was also built around 1870.  This house displays the Victorian Gothic style architecture that is part of Chesapeake City.  Mr. Brady owned the mule teams that pulled the barges through the canal when it was first built.  Mr. Brady and his wife where the parents of two daughters and he promised his wife a grand new home if she bore him a son.  This home is the result of his son being born.  In 1987, Inn At The Canal opened their doors in this house and became the first bed and breakfast in Cecil County, MD.  Carol and I along with my Mom and Dad and Aunt and Uncle stayed here for a weekend a few years ago.  It is beautiful inside!
Tomorrow I will finish the tour of Chesapeake City for you and give you an idea of the beauty of the town.  Check out the place sometime if you are within driving distance of the city.  If not, plan a few evenings in one of the bed and breakfasts along the canal.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

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