Beneath 32 coats of paint on a once-grand 1874 home on Dover Street in Easton, contractors found original siding made from Maryland swamp Cyprus. It was 2005, and Ron and Shelby Mitchell had purchased the building intent on restoring what was then known as the Wrightson House to its former glory — this time as a bed-and-breakfast.
The neglected house had seen many changes over the years. The most famous owners were the Wrightsons, a prominent Easton family best known for the Shannahan and Wrightson Hardware Store on Washington Street, as well as other business ventures.
Through the years, the building’s use shifted from a single-family residence to medical offices to mixed use to a nine-unit apartment building by the time the Mitchells found it. Completing historic renovation on the home was a labor of love. The Mitchells keep photo albums documenting the work.
The exterior alone was a feat. Most, if not all, of the paint was lead-based. The building was wrapped in plastic, and for six days a week, 15 people scraped the paint by hand. Once the paint was completely stripped, contractors applied two coats of linseed oil, two coats of primer, and two coats of paint and hand-sanded the siding between each coat.
They removed the windows, deglazed them, stripped paint from them, and re-glazed them with the original glass where it existed. If a piece of glass was broken, they replaced it with new glass.
Such a replacement is proper in restoration work; replace old with new so the renovation tells the story of the original house.
The Mitchells were general contractors for the project, hiring local electricians and plumbers. They were committed to the proper historic restoration of the building and only had trouble with one portion of the renovation: the conservatory. Few if any historic houses in the region had similar structures. It passed Historic Easton and the Maryland Historic Trust but it took a few drawings before the U.S. Department of the Interior signed off on the design.
The Mitchells researched the Victorian era and learned Victorians were in love with France, silks and spices from Asia, and safari. They used the knowledge to design the suites for the bed-and-breakfast now known as the Inn at 202 Dover: the Victorian Guest Room, the English Suite, the French Suite, the Asian Suite and the Safari Suite.