The house on a slight rise at the end of Cherry Street on St. Michaels’ harbor was originally known as the Henry Clay Dodson House. It is a landmark in St. Michaels for its French Second Empire style with a remarkable mansard roof covered by deep gray fish-scale patterned slate shingles. Between each arched roof dormer window is an unusual painted accent shingle with a gray center surrounded in white. Other period details include the Ionic columns that support the one-story porches.
This distinctive house is now the Victoriana Inn. The inn has welcomed many guests over the years, including one ghost. This benevolent ghost was a young man who appeared troubled when he checked into the inn one evening. When Innkeeper Aida Khalil Trissell pointed out the brochures of local attractions, he thanked her and said what he needed was a quiet weekend to himself.
He later sought out the innkeeper in the kitchen and appeared anxious to pay his bill in advance. The innkeeper assured him her policy is for guests to pay at checkout and encouraged him to relax and enjoy his stay. Very early the next morning the man’s wife called the innkeeper and was very upset. She had tried several times to reach her husband since he had not answered her texts that morning. The innkeeper went upstairs and knocked on the door several times. There was no response nor could she hear any noise inside the room. She reluctantly opened the door slightly and saw the guest lying on the bed. She was very distressed to see he was clearly not well. When the innkeeper and another staff member went inside the room to the guest’s bedside, it was clear the guest had passed away.
The innkeeper then called the guest’s wife, told her the very sad news and made arrangements for the guest’s body to be transported to her. The innkeeper then closed the door to the room. She later removed all the furniture and arranged for the walls to be painted and the floors to be refinished. When the innkeeper returned from a trip, she went to the room and saw three pennies on the floor of the empty room. She was puzzled becausee no one had been in the room since the renovations had been completed. She picked up the three pennies and put them in a drawer. After the new furnishings were installed, she inspected the room again and found three more pennies in the exact location as the first ones.
Later that day, the innkeeper was conferring with the cook about the next day’s breakfast menu and told her about the curious appearance of the mysterious pennies. As they were talking, they heard three more pennies roll off the kitchen table onto the floor. They turned around to see that the pennies fell at the exact spot where the guest had stood when he asked about paying his bill in advance. The innkeeper and the cook looked at each other in disbelief and were speechless. The cook surmised the guest was trying to communicate with the innkeeper to say he was sorry he had not paid his bill for his overnight stay.
The significance of three pennies has been the source of much speculation. Whatever his intent, he took his secret to his grave. In the years since the first pennies appeared, more pennies have been found, and the innkeeper keeps them in the same drawer where she stored the first ones. She wonders if the pennies will stop appearing when the amount of the bill is paid. She also remembers the guest telling her he wished he could never leave.
Besides its benevolent ghost, the Victoriana Inn is also known for its gracious hospitality and delicious cuisine. During the month of October, the inn is decorated for Halloween. Stop by for goodies such as the holiday treats displayed on these pages. Who knows, you may hear more pennies fall onto the floor for the innkeeper’s collection.
The story of the Victoriana Inn’s benevolent ghost is featured on the St. Michaels Ghost Walk, part of the Chesapeake Ghost Walks offered from April through November. For more information, visit chesapeakeghosts.com/st-michaels/.
The Victoriana Inn is located at 205 Cherry Street, St. Michaels, MD 21663. For reservations, please call 410-745-3368 or visit www.victorianainn.com
Cookies by Susan Russell, Baker/Decorator, of Sugar Coated, offering cookies for every special occasion or holiday, 410-924-7922 or firstname.lastname@example.org