History, and a vineyard, too

Desirable Spaces

October 07, 2007|By Michelle Deal-Zimmerman | Michelle Deal-Zimmerman,Sun reporter

The beauty of Mount Felix Manor in Havre de Grace lies in the land and in its history.

The Georgian-style mansion, built around 1850, lies high atop a hill with a sprawling view of the Chesapeake Bay from the widow's walk.

Below on the first floor, a breezy summer kitchen offers views of a ripening field of Chambourcin grapes. A swing hung from a huge tree raises the question: Which came first, the tree or the house?

Owners Peter and Mary Ianniello don't know the answer, but they do know this: The love they have for the property is nearly as strong as the tree's roots. Only a corporate-ordered relocation to Texas could make them move.

"The best way to describe it is a calling," says Peter. "I was inspired." The inspiration moved the couple and their three children from a rowhouse in Federal Hill to a 6,600-square foot mansion set on 14 acres.

Once there, they learned of the manor's past, including a pre-Civil War barn that is believed to have been home to a former slave; an island of trees encircling a depression thought to have been created by a meteorite; and a nearby field where the Wright Brothers once landed their plane on the way to visit a neighbor.

The Ianniellos have added to that history by planting a vineyard on the property.

"Before we even came through the house, we were digging holes," Peter says.

They planted some 3,000 vines and after three years, the results are flowing in.

"Last week we had a grape crush," Peter says. He said he expects this harvest to yield at least 5,000 bottles of wine -- which he is producing himself in a building on the property using professional winemaking equipment from Italy.

For the Ianniellos, it's more than a hobby. It's a way of giving back to the land and adding roots to that big tree.

About the house -- Mount Felix Manor was built by agriculturist John Mitchell in the mid-1800s. It has nine bedrooms and 4 1/2 bathrooms, including a separate wing that works as a self-contained guest suite. There are two kitchens, including a gourmet kitchen and a summer kitchen.

The detached cottage features a tray ceiling and wood flooring, but no bathroom. Original birch timbers can be seen in the pre-Civil War barn.

Address -- 2000 Level Road, Havre de Grace, 21078

Asking price -- $1.8 million

Taxes -- $4,613

Size -- The house has more than 6,000 square feet. The property sits on 14 acres and also includes a separate cottage, barn and workshop.

Features -- High ceilings and oak floors are common throughout the house. There are 10 working wood-burning fireplaces. The gourmet kitchen offers marble countertops, custom maple cabinetry and a fireplace. The summer kitchen has exposed brick walls and a fig tree planted outside. The lower level is partially finished.

Listing agent -- Dan Carson, Bel Air Long & Foster, 410-879-0900 (office) and 443-528-3984 (cell).


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