Eps 35 The Amazing Bayou Hotel, Havre de Grace, MD

Historic Buildings, Hotels

Imagine: Havre de Grace had a hotel that saw frequent visitors such as:

… Babe Ruth

… J.P. Morgan

… DuPonts

… Wanamakers and many others.

… Al Capone often stayed here during the race track days!

Here’s a look at the 1921 marketing brochure:

This luxurious hotel of its day offered:

  • a 1st class hotel along the length of the “Capitol Trail” between Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington
  • large and commodious fire-proof concrete GARAGE with expert mechanic and attendants and a service of motor boats for fishing and gunning
    • ROOF GARDEN, pergola effect, with spacious dance floor – 76×80 feet, situated in the coolest spot along the Chesapeake Bay
    • large SWIMMING POOL – 20×60 feet with pure filtered water and ample locker facilities
  • BATHING BEACH – fronting a sea wall 800′ in length with the prettily designed Italian Gardens and the beautiful Bay Side Park, which affords a delightful promenade adjoining the spacious City Park
  • first class service, management, and cuisine – Maryland Canvasback Ducks and Diamondback Terrapin a specialty…

  • constructed between 1917 and 1921 by Elizabeth and Edwin Piersol
  • 1921 formally conveyed to the Hotel Bayou Company
  • 4-story stone hotel building with tile roof 
  • 1st floor – large lobby, sun parlor, lounge and smoking room, afternoon tea room, large and spacious dining room overlooking the Chesapeake Bay, and 3 smaller dining rooms for private parties
  • 60 rooms each with bath and hot water
  • 19-hole miniature golf course for hotel guests across the street at 300 Giles St – open 10 am til midnight (now 2 apt buildings)
  • perfect HUNTING for Canvasback and other wild ducks
    • great fishing particularly for large schools of rock-fish
    • twice-yearly attracts large throngs to this spot interested in the race track 
    • The Harford Hunt composed of wealthy sportsmen from all over the country
  • 1932 a fire erupted and it was closed until 1935
  • 1934 duck hunting was canceled
  • 1935 the form of duck hunting, known as sink boxing, was eliminated and the wealthy people  never returned to participate in other forms of hunting
  • 1935 – the property became a home for nuns, St. Francis Villa of Maryland – until 1950s
    • After the hotel closed, and the nuns took it over, the garage was converted into a laundry, and the swimming pool was used as a coal bin. Today the former laundry is the Decoy Museum.
  • 1953 – became Bayou Villa Apartments – principal holder was Charles Foley.
  • 1976 – conveyed to the mayor and city council of Havre de Grace who in
  • 1983sold the property to Maurice Foley, a Washington D.C. firm
  • how did it go from Maurice Foley to Wayne Bowie? Were they partners? Stay tuned for more background when we interview Wayne Bowie’s sister, who presently lives in the Bayou Condos.
1920s Bayou Hotel advertisement - Finest Hotel on Chesapeake Bay - managed by Wm. Pinkney West.
1920s Bayou Hotel advertisement – Finest Hotel on Chesapeake Bay – managed by Wm. Pinkney West.
postcard Image of the Hotel Bayou of Havre de Grace, MD
postcard Image of the Hotel Bayou of Havre de Grace, MD
Image of the Hotel Bayou in Havre de Grace ravaged by a fire in 1929
Image of the Hotel Bayou in Havre de Grace ravaged by a fire in 1929
Newspaper ad for a Mortgagees' Sale of the Hotel Bayou with description. Date unknown.

Another description of just how luxurious the Bayou Hotel was in its day.
* 138-seat dining room
* tea room
* writing room
* Chesapeake Room with a seating capacity of about 125 in the basement

Notice the mention of a 3-story dwelling house, a frame storage shed, and other improvements.

a 2011 photo of the Bayou Condos (once the Bayou Hotel in the 1920s)
The Bayou Condos – photo 2011
A 2011 photo of the Havre de Grace Decoy Museum that once house the swimming pool that sent heated water to the Bayou Hotel in the 1920s.
The Havre de Grace DECOY MUSEUM – once housed the swimming pool that heated water
for the BAYOU HOTEL and had a garage and rooftop garden.

Since we started research for this video, we’ve learned a great deal from “Mr. William” and Wayne Bowie’s sister, Donna, who still lives in a condo at the Bayou. We have plans to create a future video or two as we develop these stories and, hopefully, will have the opportunity to interview Donna. We also have some stories to share from Sister Frances, who resided there at one time.

Remember, don’t throw the Havre de Grace ‘stuff’ out when you’re cleaning out a home, settling an estate, or just ‘downsizing,’ without checking in with George. Don’t give him cause to cry!!!

Our ‘casual historian’ is always waiting for your stories and any memorabilia you may want to share.

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