Our piece of history that is being written at Westhills Manor started on January 27, 2017 with the purchase of the Manor. The day we signed the purchase agreement, we had a 7 month old baby boy, a 10 year old girl, my husband had just broke his big toe on his driving foot, we had been living in a hotel for a week with everything we own in storage, and it was cold and rainy. But even with all of the stress and strain, it was still the best day of my life. It would take a couple of months for the rest of the family to warm up to the crazy challenging new life that I had just thrown my family into. But I had a plan.
During my maternity leave with the baby I had begun to look for businesses that I could start and build myself. I came upon a book about starting a wedding venue and read it cover to cover in a day. When I read it, I kept telling myself, I could do that. This could be our business.
At the time we were living in a townhouse community in Anne Arundel county. I started causally perusing the local real estate pages, showing the finds to my husband and explaining this mast plan of mine. IF we could find a fixer upper with land and a barn, we could renovate (one of my favorite things to do!!) and open a wedding venue, grow flowers to sell, and grow our own food. Easy peasy!!
After a month of looking online, I convinced Jeremy to "just take a look" at a couple of the places, then we started meeting with a realtor and looking at different properties on the weekends. On a weekend in October, 3 months after our search began, we came upon Westhills Manor in all of its old gloomy and derelict glory. I could tell that the good bones and opportunity were there, but they were hidden under decades of neglect. As soon as I walked in the door I knew this place was the one. I was in house love. The old stone manor house exuded character and old world charm. That day we submitted our offer and began the long purchase process.
As an Army veteran, I choose to finance the property through Veteran's Affairs (VA), which is a very long and drawn out process. Add in the fact that the house being purchased was over 220 years old, sitting on 23 acres, with numerous out buildings and you have yourself a full fledged VA funding nightmare. Instead of the typical 60 days or less to close we pushed just past 3 months with everyday being unsure if funding would go through.
Finally after months of delays, a "homeless" week stay in a hotel (our 1st closing attempt fell through after we had already rented out our townhouse so we had to move out and move our belongings into storage), 4 rented storage units, and a botched move we were finally given the keys to the manor and began moving our belongings into the house on January 27, 2017! To add to the mess, Jeremy dropped a 25lb metal plate weight on his right big toe 2 days before the 1st move. So in the end, I ended up moving our entire household twice (out of the townhouse and into storage then out of storage and into the house) in 1 week. Thank GOD for friends and lots of helpers!! Baby Wesley was only 7 months old at the time and still nursing. So to say that week was hectic is putting it very lightly.
Over the course of the next 360 days we would put our all into farm and house to begin to realize the dream of making it a wedding venue, organic farm, and eventually an inn. The 1st year was purely about surviving and chipping away at the old stone house's rough exterior and interior. Shortly after moving in the furnaces quit working and were unable to be repaired until May. My husband was unable to drive due to his broken toe so he bore a lot of the initial difficulties and discomforts. He would work remotely from the house dressed in a heavy coat, hat, gloves, covered in blankets while a space heater barely warmed a corner of the old house. By the time we were able to fix the furnaces, warmer weather was arriving.
To let the cool night air in during the early summer we tried to open a window, only to have it fall apart in our hands. We had thought we could get a couple of years more out of the windows. But that was not the case. By the end of May, our new windows were being installed. And to this day that is still one of our best investments.
While fighting with the furnaces, the kitchen plumbing was leaking, none of the appliances worked, and there was only about 12" of counter space available and that was old rotted and peeling laminate. While we fought with the furnaces we removed the old broken appliances and installed some basic used appliances to get us through until we could do a big beautiful kitchen remodel. For now, it was just about making the kitchen functional. We fixed the old leaking kitchen plumbing, cleaned and painted the old dingy cabinets, added new cabinets, an island, new wood counter tops, shelving, new sink and fixtures. Over many months of work the kitchen continues to evolve, but now it is a simple and elegant country kitchen with ample storage and prep space. But you would never guess where it started from at it now!
While working our 9-5 jobs 60 miles away, raising 2 kids, renovating the manor house, we also decided to become involved in the Myersville Farmers Market as a way to meet other local folks and introduce Westhills Manor to the public. During the course of the market we sold garden transplants that I grew in my family room, homemade organic bug sprays, and finally in the fall mums and pumpkins. We also planted a garden and was able to can a good amount of home grown produce. There was never a dull or non-busy moment. But we love every minute of it! This year we are aiming to finally be able to work on the more aesthetic design pieces of the manor house. In addition, I am adding lots of flower gardens!
Westhills Manor is rich with history dating back to the Civil war and even more recently with ties to a Mafia murder that occurred in Rockville. We love to give tours of the manor house and grounds and tell the many stories we have learned while living here.