Even if our own experience was different, most of us can envision care-free summer days at the shore. Games on the beach, hiking in the forest; only coming back to the house at sunset when it was obvious that we were late for dinner.
Now you and your family can create your own summer wonderland with the purchase of an idyllic island located in a sheltered cove of the Chesapeake Bay.
Tippity Wichity Island, as it has come to be called, has a storied, and somewhat mysterious, history. Was it, as some folks say, an early settlement for Native American families, evidenced by the arrowheads and pottery shards found on the Island at various points? Or was its past darker and spicier?
Early records for St. Mary’s County document a purchase of the Island by a Captain Henry Howgate after the Civil War. Depending on whom you believe, this Howgate was either a notorious Confederate smuggler or a former Union Army officer with a penchant for embezzlement. Either way, it appears that Mr. Howgate purchased what was then known as Lynch Island in 1879 and built a house of ill-repute and distillery meant to appeal to traders and others doing business on the waterways of the Chesapeake after a crackdown of similar establishments in the then thriving port of Alexandria.
It is not clear how long the establishment lasted or what became of Howgate and his “employees,” but the 20th Century brought a new era of respectability for St. Mary’s County and the Island which obscured its raucous history.
In the 1950s, a gentleman by the name of Earnest Dickey built a new house on what remained of Howgate’s folly and wired it for electricity. In fact, the installation made history for the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative, which documents the house as the first anywhere in the County to use the (at the time) new invention of the electric heat pump. A Baltimore Sun article from 1962 recounts the Dickeys exploits on the Island, including a winter “rescue” from the Navy at the nearby Patuxent Naval Air Station who flew an electrician to the home by helicopter to repair a breaker that hobbled the all-electric homestead in the middle of a serious freeze.
Having purchased the Island upon seeing a classified ad in the Washingtonian Magazine, the current owners have spent a generation updating the home and its amenities (including a more reliable electric service and generator) while enjoying a dreamy lifestyle of crisp spring mornings with the awakening bloom of native hydrangea and laurel, hazy summers of boating and barbecues, and Fall nights with campfires and ghost stories.
Tippity Wichity Island includes a charming and spacious three-bedroom home with a focus on connection to the lush grounds and surrounding water. Each bedroom provides direct outside access. On side of the home features two bedrooms, one of which is the primary, and a full bath. The primary bedroom provides a prominent view of the St Mary’s River through sliding glass doors giving way to a private porch. The third bedroom and additional full bath are located on the opposite end of the living area for guest privacy.
The open “great” room of the home serves as the central gathering place, providing ample space for living, dining, and entertaining. The room is accentuated by a wood-burning fireplace in the center and large windows offering views down the river on one side and access to the back porch, garden, and grounds on the other.
While each of the numerous porches offer a unique view and tranquility, the highlight is the screened-in “gazebo” porch. The space welcomes outdoor dining year-round or a shaded respite with the ebb and flow of the river in the background.
The Island and Grounds
The Island itself is just under 5 acres highlighted by the dock with boat lift, permitted riprap shoreline and living shoreline with a small beach, soft launch for kayaks/canoes, scenic nature trail and multiple storage structures. The river is clean and temperate, but a heated in-ground swimming pool sits adjacent to the house in its own private garden location.
Although much has been written about the erosion of islands in the Chesapeake, Tippity Wichity sits four meters above the high-water line and is protected from all but the most calamitous storms. Mean low water at the boat dock is approximately six feet, which allows for many sail and powerboat options.
Nestled squarely in the St Mary’s River Sanctuary, the Island provides a scenic outpost for nature enthusiasts and the avid outdoor enthusiast to pursue the abundant wild game and fish down the river, across the mouth of the Potomac, and into the fabled Chesapeake Bay. This incredible property could also serve as a corporate/non-profit retreat or sporting lodge.
The property enjoys an easement across farmland on the bank of the River for access to a dock. In addition, the Island itself is just a 5-10 minute boat ride from St. Mary’s College, an historic liberal arts college in St. Mary’s City. In addition to shopping and dining options, the town/College and nearby Leonardtown offer ample opportunities for entertainment, including an outdoor summer concert series and the Governor’s Cup yacht race.
A Dream Come True
Available for the first time in 50 years, Tippity Wichity Island is ready for its next owners to create their own piece of St. Mary’s County history and priceless family memories.