The Story of our Chincoteague Inn
In our Chincoteague inn, there lies a story of a more distant time when two young gentlemen, a doctor and a postmaster, pooled their resources to build a grand manor house on a beautiful barrier island along Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Although this house did not begin as B&B accommodations, southern hospitality was part of its very foundation. The gentlemen selected a home site right on Main Street of Chincoteague Island, so they could not only enjoy living in a thriving town, but also be in the midst of the growing work of the local watermen. The busy routines of planting, harvesting and shipping the local abundance of oysters and clams led to continued development of the island economy. The tremendous fishing only added to the growth of business in the region.
The young professionals demonstrated their current and future success with the design of this mid-Nineteenth century home. Adapting from the heavy influence of the Southern Colonial architectural style dominating much of the mid-Atlantic, the gentlemen opted to build a home in the popular Maryland “T” House style, which also draws from Federalist and Georgian architecture. It was from this residence that Mr. Joseph Kenny walked to the island’s only post office, where he served as the Postmaster, and Dr. Nathaniel Smith treated Union soldiers during the Civil War.
Some time later Sarah, a young lady from Baltimore, Maryland, came to visit the island. Joseph fell in love, and they were soon married. Would you believe that the young lady had a sister, Juliet, who came to visit and won the heart of the doctor? Dr. Nathaniel Smith and Juliet also married in due course, and the two couples soon lived together in this grand manor. However, Sarah and Juliet did not like living under the same roof, and as you might imagine, life became tough for the Postmaster and Doctor. So an agreement was made that would split the grand Maryland “T” house into two equal parts. Nathaniel agreed to make his home in the front portion, and Joseph remained in the back portion.
Workers began building a new foundation next to the existing structure, and when it was ready the house was split in two. The Smith’s portion was disconnected and slowly rolled next door onto the new foundation. If you look closely at the Island Manor House today, you will see that one portion sits lower than the other since the new foundation was not built to the original height. These houses would be used as separate residences for many decades.
Then in the 1980s, the back portion that once served as the Kenny home was purchased with the intent of converting it into a bed and breakfast. Within a short period of time, the neighboring Smith House was also purchased from the descendants of Dr. Nathaniel Smith. It was decided that the two structures would once again be connected, and plans where drawn to build a beautiful courtyard and sunroom that would adjoin the two homes. Upon completion, the home opened as one of the first Chincoteague bed and breakfasts named “Little Traveler’s Inn”. The inn operated very successfully for many years.
The Island Manor House Today
In the early 1990s, the inn was purchased by a new set of innkeepers. The name was changed to the 1848 Island Manor House to match the year the home was built and provide a better image to the type of home it was. They continued the restoration of the property by expanding the number of guest rooms to eight and added the spectacular red brick courtyard outside the garden room which is now surrounded with beautiful roses and a three-tier fountain. Their love of the property and area was noted in their very successful operation and expansion of the business.
Come take a step back in time when the pace of life was a little slower, smell the fresh salty air, and enjoy the coastal charm of our Chincoteague inn. Be a part of the exciting future as we continue the legacy of the 1848 Island Manor House!