Spencer-Silver Mansion - 1896 - Havre de Grace, MD
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member bluesnote
N 39° 32.778 W 076° 05.502
18S E 406197 N 4377971
One of many dated buildings in Havre de Grace, Maryland.
Waymark Code: WM15P43
Location: Maryland, United States
Date Posted: 02/01/2022
Published By:Groundspeak Premium Member iconions
Views: 0

Taken from the website, "Stop #27 on The Lafayette Trail

Description MIHP HA-549, February 1977 (visit link)
“The Spencer-Silver Mansion is the only high Victorian, stone mansion in Havre de Grace. It is a two-and-a-half story, four-bay wide, detached, random ashlar dwelling. The L-shaped mansion has a two-and-a-half story, semi-circular tower on the northeast wall. Built in an eclectic, vernacular style, the structure displays elements of the Chateauesque and Queen Anne styles. The random ashlar walls are constructed of rough, rock granite, quarried at Port Deposit, Maryland. . . The main porch is a six-bay veranda which begins on the front at the second bay, south of the tower, forming a semicircle at the southeast corner and continuing across the south elevation where it terminates at the beginning of a two-story bay. . . The large veranda has a copper roof, while the primary roofing is slate.” At the time of the inventory, this was owned by Dr. Edward J. Simon.

The land on which this mansion and carriage house were built was previously owned by George Taylor Lyon (1816-1891) and his wife, Maria L. Lyon. In his Will, George Lyon bequeathed the property to Maria, who in 1895 agreed with their children to sell this part of the land to John N. Spencer (1845-1916). It is not known whether a building already existed on the land.

John Spencer, who built this impressive stone mansion in 1896, was a wealthy merchant with many enterprises including a fish-packing business, who had architect George Franklin Barber (1854-1915) design it for him and his wife, Margaret Spencer. While Barber and his company had built dozens of such homes all over the country, this is the only high Victorian mansion in Havre de Grace combining elements of the Chateauesque and Queen Anne styles. It was built with the latest gas and electric lighting, humidifiers in the gas fireplaces, and Italian marble fixtures.

After John Spencer died, an ownership dispute reached the Circuit Court between George R. Carver (1839-1918) and the widowed Margaret Spencer, which the court resolved by authorizing Trustees to sell the mansion. In 1917, Charles Bartol Silver (1867-1947), a local canning magnate, bought this showcase house in a private sale and with his wife, Francina “Fannie” Hopkins Silver made this their home. Charles Silver had become part owner of the firm Silver, Spencer & Company, perhaps the largest salt fish packers in the East. In 1914, Silver had succeeded Stephen J. Seneca as a packer of Red Cross Brand foods and the industry grew rapidly. Charles Silver also became President of the First National Bank and remained as such until his death in 1947. His widow, Fannie Silver, continued to live in this mansion for a few years with her sister, Elizabeth S. Cole (wife of C. Walter Cole).

When Fannie Silver died in 1952, she bequeathed this property to her sister, Elizabeth Cole, and her son, G. Bartol Silver (1900-1972), husband of Ida L. Silver. Bartol Silver succeeded his father as President of the First National Bank in 1947. After First National’s merger with Havre de Grace Banking & Trust in 1956, Bartol Silver was elected to serve as the first President of First National Bank & Trust Co. He and his wife, Ida, and their daughter, Elizabeth Silver, remained prominent in Havre de Grace community affairs and the canning industry. Bartol also served as Commodore of the Havre de Grace Yacht Club.

In 1954, Bartol Silver and his wife, Ida, along with Fannie Silver, his mother, sold the mansion to Dr. Edward J. Simon and his wife, Cathryn. The stable behind the house was originally built to store the Silver family’s carriages but Dr. Simon converted it into his medical office. He had the front of it modified by the G.E. Fender Construction Company by removing the carriage doors and replacing them with an entrance door and window. Dr. Simon was popular and long admired for his willingness to make house calls. With Cathryn, he raised two sons, Edward and Arthur, and was an active member of St. Patrick's parish. He also was a member of the Knights of Columbus and was a director of the Columbian Bank for many years while serving as Chief of Staff at Harford Memorial Hospital.

During the Simons’ ownership of the mansion, they converted it into separate rental apartments and made many changes to the interior, while they lived elsewhere. They also added a one-story flat roof granite addition at the rear of the house and divided the property so that the carriage house was owned separately from the mansion. In 1965 Simon had the G.E. Fender Construction Company modify the front of the carriage house by removing the carriage doors on the front and replacing them with an entrance door and window so as to use it for his medical practice. Dr. Simon also loved playing cards, going to The Graw racetrack, and driving around town in his red 1990 Cadillac Seville.

In 1977, Dr. Simon and his wife sold the mansion to Ralph H. Jordan and his wife, Lou, who owned it for another 10 years. Ralph Jordan was on the faculty of the Harford Community College and later served on the Board of Trustees. In 1987, James and Carol Nemeth purchased what had become a neglected 8,000 square-foot mansion and began the formidable task of restoring it to a single family home. After painstaking work, its two parlors flanked the center hall—one more modern in furnishings and the other well-defined Victorian in style with a handsome period chandelier, which they found in the attic and restored. Fireplaces, elaborate mantels, floral tiles, parquet floors with braided corner designs, pocket doors and stained glass were some of the notable features they restored.

While the Nemeths were nearing completion of their restoration, to the great surprise of many people law enforcement agents in 1993 raided Simons medical office (in the former carriage house) as well as Simons home, which was elsewhere. A six-month investigation had led police to suspect the doctor of giving prescriptions without establishing a doctor-patient relationship. After the case got through the courts, “Doc Simon” no longer practiced medicine. He died in 1995, followed by his wife, Cathryn, two years later.

By 1994, the Nemeths opened a bed and breakfast inn with double oak doors that opened to a grand center hallway, parquet inlaid floors, 12-foot ceilings, unusual antique lamps, five impressive fireplace mantles, and the 10-foot quarter sawn oak parlor doors. A beautiful oak grand staircase led to a stained glass window and then to the second floor with the four original bedrooms. The baths revealed fixtures from the turn-of-the-century including a claw-foot tub, marble top sink, and original shell-embossed tiles. A wrap-around porch sat in the shade of an impressive sycamore tree and led out to the large private garden. This building still has its original windows although they are now covered with storm windows.

The carriage house in the rear became part of the Spencer-Silver Mansion bed & breakfast inn in 1994 and was renovated and opened to the 1994 Annual Candlelight Tour. The tongue and groove board ceilings, antique furnishings, and whirlpool tub for two made the carriage house a relaxing hideaway. An ornate iron spiral staircase led to a second-floor loft bedroom, which was complete with a gas fireplace.

The Spencer-Silver Mansion is now owned and run by Carol Nemeth. It received an award from the Havre de Grace Historic Preservation Commission in 2008.

County Records
Built 1896. 5833 sq ft, 2.5 stories with basement, 4.5 baths, detached garage, 16,800 sq ft lot."

(visit link)
Year built or dedicated as indicated on the structure or plaque: 1896

Full Inscription (unless noted above):
Spencer-Silver Mansion 1896

Website (if available): [Web Link]

Visit Instructions:

Any log as a visit to a waymark will require a picture as proof that the person visited a particular dated architectural structure. Any posted visits not containing a picture in the log will risk being being deleted.
Search for...
Geocaching.com Google Map
Google Maps
Bing Maps
Nearest Waymarks
Nearest Dated Architectural Structures Multifarious
Nearest Geocaches
Create a scavenger hunt using this waymark as the center point
Recent Visits/Logs:
There are no logs for this waymark yet.