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Wicomico town goes through a revival

August 29, 1999

By Dick Moore

Whitehaven is a riverfront village in Wicomico County, one of the earliest- settled places in this county going back to Colonial times. For a time, it looked like the town would be a major settlement until Salisbury, more conveniently located at the center of the Delmarva Peninsula, overtook it.

Whitehaven languished. Time seemed to be passing it by. A daily ferry connected it to Somerset County across the river. Its shipbuilding industry seemed to fade away. An old hotel appeared to be on its way out.

But thanks to the work and devotion of a dedicated few, Whitehaven is now undergoing a revival. The old hotel is being restored and now gleams brightly with its yellow paint and highlighted rich red and green colors.

The building that once looked after traveling salesmen who came to Whitehaven to sell their wares in the nearby countryside is undergoing a transformation. It will become, a bed and breakfast.

The hotelís restoration is part of an ongoing revival of Whitehaven's fortunes. About 10 years ago, a few of the village residents began talking about a celebration of the local church's 1992 centennial. As the Whitehaven Villager quarterly newsletter notes in its latest edition, one thing led to another.

The old schoolhouse was made, available and it became a focus of operation after repairs were made. In 1993, the Whitehaven Heritage Association was organized, and funds were sought and obtained from the Maryland Historical Trust.

In time there was money for a new roof, the porch was rebuilt, and there was foundation repair work, new windows and electric lighting. Volunteers painted the newly renovated schoolhouse this year.

Kenneth Trippe's hotel project, seems to be well under way. Trippe has plans for seven hotel rooms in the old building, which is more than 100 years old. In addition, there will be a kitchen for catering, an area for business meetings and receptions, and possibly a small country store.

The project should be completed by next year. Pat Russell, a Whitehaven resident and vice president of Wicomico Historical Properties, said the third phase of the project will follow.

In 1994, she and her nonprofit organization bought the old hotel at auction. She later had it placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The hotel restoration project is expected to cost about $500,000. Funds have been coming from the Maryland Historic Trust and the Maryland Board of Public works.

For years, the old hotel sat like a derelict on the Whitehaven waterfront. There were many in Whitehaven who thought this old building could not be saved.

Trippe, a Salisbury-based business banker, purchased the property last month and subsidized the remaining $210,000 needed to complete the project.

Doris Scott, whose husband, Davis; is an artist, said the population of Whitehaven is about 50 full-time and 16 part-time.

Thanks to people like Trippe, the Scotts and Pat Russell, the revitalization of an historic waterfront town has been made possible as dozens of other residents contributed time and money, too.

Reprinted with permission of The Daily Times (Salisbury, MD)

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