Anne Arundel couple to reopen historic tavern in Annapolis

April 16, 2002|By Amanda J. Crawford | Amanda J. Crawford,SUN STAFF

Beer will soon be served again in historic Reynolds Tavern in Annapolis -- along with English tea.

The 255-year-old building at a prominent location on Church Circle has been bought by a local couple who plan to reopen it this summer as an English pub, tearoom and bed-and-breakfast.

The large brick building has been empty for more than three years as its owners -- Farmers Bank of Maryland, the Historic Annapolis Foundation and the National Trust for Historic Preservation -- searched for a preservation-minded buyer with a viable business plan.

The proposal by Andrew and Jill Petit of Arnold was chosen because the couple plan to return it to its traditional use -- even though their offer of $825,000 was less than the asking price of more than $1 million.

"We are glad to see that the building will be turned into at least its most recent use, with local owners who will take care of the building and keep it as a local treasure," said David Ritchie, chairman and chief executive officer of Farmers Bank.

The Petits plan to reopen the basement bar as an English pub that serves lunch and dinner. The first floor will feature an English tearoom, serving tea, desserts and lunch inside and on the back terrace.

The second floor will include guest rooms in "the luxury category," Andrew Petit said.

Built about 1747 by hat maker William Reynolds, the 8,500-square-foot Georgian-style building originally housed Reynolds' shop, a dry goods store and an inn called the Beaver and Lac'd Hat. It was later used as a home for Farmers Bank's cashier and as a library before it was donated to the National Trust in 1974.

The National Trust then leased the building to the Historic Annapolis Foundation, which sublet it to local developer Paul Pearson. Pearson borrowed $1.4 million from Farmers Bank to renovate and reopen a tavern there. When he declared bankruptcy in 1989, the bank took over most of his ownership stake. The tavern reopened under new management in 1992 but closed six years later.

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