Turning a Historic Home into a Modern Marvel
One of today’s popular buzzwords is “repurpose.” People find new purposes for everything, from furniture to wine bottles, housewares and even homes. Hidden away within the outskirts of Easton is a perfect study in home repurposing, 510 Diamond St.
This address is appropriate, as it truly is a “diamond in the rough,” and was not converted from a barn into a personal residence until 1972. This home was further repurposed just four years ago when Kevan and Chris Full, the home’s third owners, converted the corn crib into a charming one-bedroom, one-bath guest apartment available for rent via Airbnb.
Their two-and-a-half story brick barn and loft home is known as “St. Aubin’s Keep” or “The Keep.” It was built in 1806 as a stable and carriage house for the home of Nicholas Hammond (known as St. Aubin’s House, referring to his ancestral home on the Isle of Jersey), which is the stately manor home directly behind the Full’s house.
This structure is unique in that it was built out of brick instead of wood, attesting to the wealth and prominence of its owner. Hammond was one of the original founders of Easton and the first president of the Eastern Shore branch of Farmer’s National Bank. Further indicating Hammond’s affluence is the quality of the brickwork, including the molded cornice on the front. This is one of the finest remaining examples of early barns, and shows the detail that went into building country homes.
Two small outbuildings are attached to the home. One is an Adirondack shed covered with beaded vertical Cypress siding. Attached to this is a gable-roofed corn crib with lattice walls. The connection of these two buildings creates a warm and inviting courtyard.
When Kevan and Chris moved in, the corn crib had been poorly converted into a guest suite. Since their home only had two bedrooms and an unheated loft, they needed to make a third bedroom. Ultimately, it was their daughter who suggested using it for Airbnb. Since they are retired and considering additional sources of income, Kevan and Chris explored this option and decided to move forward.
They brought the apartment up to town building codes. With a warm look, Kevan shared, “We love being hosts, and for us this is a constantly evolving process. We continually find new ways to improve the crib, the latest being adding a pull-out make-up mirror in the medicine cabinet.”
Kevan installed a concrete counter and explained that he had wrestled with different counter ideas, but decided upon the concrete because it fit the nature of the crib … and it’s indestructible. He added, “The floors, décor and overall feel of this small but unique accommodation all mark this as such a warm and inviting haven, that the only complaint we get from guests is that we book up so fast.”
“At first, there was some rumbling around town at our doing this,” Kevan said. “but in reality, how can someone who brings students into their homes for piano lessons complain about us bringing guests to stay in our crib?”
Kevan, who is the jovial and convivial host, checks in all their guests.
“We are entering our fourth season with Airbnb, and we do not allow our guests to disturb our neighbors. We only allow two guests to stay in our one bedroom, one bath attached apartment, do not allow smokers, and do not allow anyone outside after 10 p.m. Only one car is allowed, no children fewer than 12 are allowed, and no partiers,” Kevan said.
Kevan explained that the people who use Airbnb are not your typical travelers who need a hotel stay. Those who use the site are “adventurers,” people who come to explore Talbot County, and want a unique place to “hang their hat.”
“We also like being an Airbnb host because, like using Uber, it is based upon reviews. Guests and hosts get reviewed, so there is a comfort margin. Just as guests get to select places they would feel comfortable staying, we get to select people we would feel comfortable hosting,” Kevan said.
Kevan and Chris don’t provide breakfast for guests because they want them to local options for the meal, and they love making recommendations for places to see, restaurants to try, and events to attend. They love being “Brand Ambassadors” for Talbot County, Kevan said.
“We truly love our guests, and have found this to be a rewarding and growing experience,” Chris said.