The property now known as Historic Kent Manor Inn was once part of the tract called Smithfield. “The Courthouse, now Wetherall.” Mr. Thomas Wetherall was granted the land in 1651, only seventeen years after Lord Calvert’s arrival in Maryland. Purchased by Dr. John Smyth at the turn of the century it was renamed Smithfield. The estate stayed in the Smyth family until 1843 when Sarah Smyth, wife of Dr. Samuel T. Thompson gave 307 acres to her son Alexander Thompson. Today, the area is still known as Thompson’s Creek.
The Thompson heirs sold the property to James Benjamin Bright in 1898. His eldest son, Benjamin Harrison Bright, occupied the mansion and opened the house as a summer hotel called “The Brightsworth Inn”. The business closed in 1911 and the Bright family farmed the property until selling it to the Reifsneider family in 1917. John Reifsneider continued to cultivate the land until it was purchased by Theodore Elliott Tolson, a native of Kent Island, in 1922. Mr. Tolson reopened the house again as a summer hotel and called it Kent Hall. After the death of Mr. Tolson the farm was bought by T. Worth Jamison in 1951 and renamed again as Pennyworth Farm. Historic Kent Manor Inn was, and still is, a masterpiece of design and craftsmanship.
The original wing of the house was built circa 1820. It consisted of a living room, dining room, large kitchen, pantry and cupboard on the first floor; four rooms on the second floor; and two large rooms on the third. The center portion was added by Alexander Thompson just prior to the Civil War, circa 1860, with four rooms on both the first and second floors, and five smaller rooms on the third floor. All of the rooms on the first and second floors of the 1860 addition still have their original Italian marble fireplace mantels. From the eight window cupola on the roof you can see all 224 acres of the farm including the one and one-half miles of waterfront along Thompson Creek and Cox Creek.
Restored to its original beauty in 1987, Historic Kent Manor Inn now features twenty-four luxurious sleeping rooms, several conference rooms, a Garden House with seating for 150 guests and a four-star quality restaurant in a English setting with working fireplaces serving fine New American cuisine with an Eastern Shore influence. Historic Kent Manor Inn is owned maintained and professionally managed by a holding company whose principals are David Meloy and Alan Michaels. Our executive chef is one very talented William Lackey, originally from Pennsylvania, whose primary culinary experience was developed at the acclaimed Plantation Resort on Amelia Island FL. Historic Kent Manor Inn is an ideal location for meetings and corporate retreats, elegant waterfront weddings, or a romantic weekend getaway to a serene country setting. Visit Historic Kent Manor Inn and let our staff introduce you to the essence of Eastern Shore hospitality.
(with special credit to Wendy Woods)