Seller Story: Fran Ruchman, Annapolis, MD

“Severn Side Farm has been our family’s home for 20 years, however its history dates back to the 1840s. On the north shore of the Severn River overlooking Maryland’s capital city, the property was originally built by Jacob Winchester, who was granted 1,500 acres on the river upon his marriage in 1832 to Mary Ridout, the daughter of a prominent Annapolis family. They went on to have ten children before Winchester’s death during the time of The Civil War. After that, Mary ran the farm alone for 30 years until her death in the 1890s — isn’t that something? In the late 1920s, the home was purchased by the Rich family, and in 1997 I bought it from Mr. Rich’s daughter.

There are six bedrooms, all connected, and everyone gets a bathroom and a waterfront view. The kitchen used to be an old cookhouse, and there’s a ballroom that was a 1920s addition. My friends tease me and call it “Fran’s Estate” and I just hate that. It’s just an old farm house! And if you would have seen it when I first bought it, you would not be calling it a mansion. Maintaining 30 acres means you work every day. Every day. But you have to love it, and over the years we put a lot of work into the house. It has been a great place to raise a family–it’s right on the water with a tennis court, a swimming pool, and a great location. We host the afterparty for the Hospice Cup. It’s a sailboat race that we can watch from the house. Severn Side Farm has seen a lot of parties, a lot of celebrations, weddings and fundraisers. I’m hoping I can walk away and not look back, as I move onto my next party.” –Fran Ruchman

Seller Story: Fran Ruchman, Annapolis, MD
Seller Story: Fran Ruchman, Annapolis, MD
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Seller Story: Fran Ruchman, Annapolis, MD

You have been so generous to share Severn Side Farm as the venue for many fundraising affairs, weddings, and parties. What’s it like being infamous for your fêtes?

I have a modest streak. I don’t want to make it sound like, “Oh, I give the best parties!” But I love to give parties. I’m blessed with many friends, and almost everybody and their kids have had a party here. There’s no problem with parking because there’s so much land, and you can get here by boat. Tennis parties. Pool parties. Our max capacity inside is about 200. Outside, there is almost no limit.

Tell us about the Kittinger desk in your sale.

It belonged to a gentleman named J. Walter Jones, who was my real estate broker in the late 1970s. The desk was given to him by his best friend, Spiro “Ted” Agnew, Richard Nixon’s first Vice President. You might know him for being the only Vice President for resigning after criminal charges, but regardless, this was the desk he used in The White House!

In what ways has the home’s history surfaced in your time living here?

While I was gardening I found some foundation pieces for outbuildings. There is also a little bell in the master bedroom that was used to ring for the maid. It has a wire that goes down to the kitchen, “Please bring me my breakfast!” There was a link to the B&A Railroad on the border of this property and you can still see the train tracks. The Baltimore & Annapolis Railroad was used during the Civil War for a troop train.

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