This seafood magnate's estate is full of history and up for auction with no minimum bid. Photo courtesy of TTR Sotheby's International Realty

Phillips Seafood President’s Severn River Estate Hits Auction Block

After sitting on the market for nearly a year, one of the Bay’s most pristine—and priciest—properties is hitting the auction block, with no base bidding price, on August 12.

Located at 1604 Winchester Road in Annapolis, the 23-acre estate overlooking the Severn was most recently listed by owners Steve Phillips, President and CEO of Phillips Seafood Restaurants and Founder of Phillips Foods, and his wife, Maxine, for $24.9 million in August 2020.

Now it could belong to anyone—yes, even you!—who’s able to put a $100,000 deposit in escrow and pay up to 12 percent in premium costs following the six-day auction, which will be hosted by Concierge Auction.

“The pandemic was the major factor that created headwind for the sale of this listing,” Brad Kappel, who along with partner David DeSantis holds the listing for TTR Sotheby’s International Realty – Annapolis Brokerage, told Bay Bulletin. “Property tours were severely limited and overseas buyer interest, which is a key segment of the affluent audience that this property would appeal to, was minimal due to quarantine restrictions. The auction platform, however, is designed to create wide-ranging interest, in essence ‘bringing’ the market to the listing, and has successfully procured numerous record-breaking sales.”

Photo courtesy of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty

With that in mind, Kappel believes the property could very well become the most expensive home sold in Maryland.

“When you take into consideration the level of investment that the current owners have made, in terms of both time and money, this turn-key waterfront estate truly offers a once in a lifetime opportunity to own one of the finest properties on the East coast,” says Kappel. “The most expensive home ever sold in Maryland was $20 million, so this sale has the potential to break that record.”

Whether it takes the title or not, the property will provide its next owners with the same unique features that first led the Phillips, who are avid sailors, to purchase what was then an abandoned friary for $2.5 million in 2002. Among them: 270-degree views of the Severn River,  over 1,500 feet of water frontage, and a six-slip deep-water pier.

“This is the perfect location for the boating enthusiast,” Kappel concludes.

But Kappel adds that, boater or not, anyone who wants to celebrate the Annapolis waterfront lifestyle will be impressed by the sheer size of the 26,000-square-foot Georgian home. It comprises seven bedrooms, eight bathrooms, and 11 fireplaces, plus $32 million in unique features that the Phillipses added in a five-and-a-half-year renovation their agent describes as “mammoth and complex.” 

Some of the most eye-catching outdoor highlights include a restored chapel, 60-foot infinity edge pool, full outdoor kitchen, large teak pavilion in the forest, tennis court, roof garden, and small funicular (cable rail) running to and from the dock. 

Inside, there’s every possible element for entertaining, from a commercial-grade gourmet kitchen, catering kitchen, and wine cellar to an oversized ballroom, conservatory, library, music room, paneled billiards room, and indoor pool and spa.

Beyond the eye candy, the home’s next inhabitants will have no shortage of discussion topics while hosting and hobnobbing thanks to the property’s “You can’t make this stuff up” history. 

Said to be a stopping point on the Underground Railroad due to its Severnside location, the property was bought in 1911 by E. Bartlett Hayward, a man who’d made his fortune casting shell casings for French Field guns during World War I. Hayward built the mansion with a clear eye for fun, reportedly hosting epic cookoffs and poker games, and perhaps engaging in some bootlegging through the secret tunnel to the water that the Phillipses found shortly after buying the home. 

Hayward sold in 1945, and in 1950 the home took on quite a different personality under the ownership of a group of Franciscan friars, though they introduced their own elements for fun: a bowling alley under the chapel, a waterside tennis court, and multiple massive outdoor pizza ovens. The property even had a short stint in 1989 as Yokahama Academy, a boarding school for Japanese boys, before community opposition forced it to close.

Whatever the future holds for 1604 Winchester, one thing’s for certain: it will have a new owner by August 19. 

The only question is: who will the winning bidder be?!

Steve Adams