Historic Kent Manor Inn History

Built in 1820, Historic Kent Manor Inn has been a premier historic property on the Eastern Shore for nearly 200 years.

Historic Kent Manor Inn was, and still is, a masterpiece of design and craftsmanship. The original house was built circa 1820 and remains as the leftmost portion of the house structure as you face it from the front. It originally included a living room, dining room, large kitchen, pantry and cupboard on the first floor; four bedrooms on the second floor; and two large rooms on the third.

The current center portion of the house was added by Alexander Williamson Thompson (1816-1875) 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 many of their original decorative appointments, including some with Italian marble fireplace mantels. From the eight-window cupola high atop the inn, you can see all 220 majestic acres of our farm include the 1 ½ miles of waterfront along Thompson and Cox Creeks.

The 220-acre property today known as the Historic Kent Manor Inn was originally part of the tract granted to Thomas Wetherall in 1651, just 17 years after Lord Calvert’s arrival in Maryland. Early record described the property as The Courthouse, now Wetherall.

At the turn of the century, it was purchased by Dr. John Smyth and was renamed Smithfield. The estate remained in the Smyth family, until 1843 when Sarah Smyth Thompson, wife of Dr. Samuel T. Thompson, granted 307 acres to her son, Alexander Thompson. Today, our navigable creek is still known as Thompson Creek. A photograph of son Alexander Thompson hangs in our beautiful inn in tribute.

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. You can still find graffiti from this period of our history on the walls on the way up to our cupola. The business closed in 1911 and the Bright family farmed the property until selling it to the Reifsneider family in 1917.

John Reifsneider cultivated the land until it was purchased by Theodore Elliot 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 Pennyworth Farm.

Restored to its original beauty and expanded once again in 1987 by Maryland developer Fred Williams, the Historic Kent Manor Inn now features 24 luxurious guest rooms, several conference rooms, and many generous spaces for weddings and meeting with seating for over 600 combined.

historic room in common area at Kent Manor Inn
fireplace in common area at Kent Manor Inn