Nov 25 2017

About Us & The Inn

About Us


Harvey & Elise Altergott in 1970/1971 at Tangier Island Airport in Maryland
Elise and I, Harvey Altergott, are retired after working in the Washington, DC area for a number of years. Prior to that, I was in the Navy and we moved many times as I was assigned to different ships and duty stations.

We came upon The Tavern House by chance. We didn’t need a house in Vienna, Maryland, that was an hour and a half from our work. But when we stumbled upon it, we knew it needed us. Boards were falling off the outside, the roof was leaking, wall paper was peeling, plaster was falling and termite damage was obvious. But we, especially Elise, loved the house. So we bought it.

The house had a long history, having been built in the early 1700’s. It was a Tavern in colonial days. The deeds continue to refer to it as ‘The Tavern House’. In those days, a tavern would provide lodging for travelers, serve meals and drink, and often be a center for community activity. Later when the term ‘tavern’ was not as socially acceptable, the house was referred to as a ‘hotel’. Over time, it has been a home, sometimes a private residence of the owner. We were the first to refer to The Tavern House as a Bed & Breakfast.

We knew when we bought it, that the house needed much work. For five years we spent our weekends, holidays, and many nights commuting while we worked to stabilize and restore the house. We jacked the house up and replaced the huge wood sills; we put in new wiring, new plumbing, replaced large areas of the plaster, re-pointed the chimneys - the list goes on and on. Most of this we did ourselves - we were much younger then.

Our goal was to restore the house to what it would have looked like in the 1700s, as authentic as we could. Intentionally, we did not sand the old floors, did not replace the windows, nor did we replace wood that was scarred or damaged but serviceable. We did not want a house that looked new. We wanted a house that showed it’s pride in being old and having been lived in for over two hundred years. Samples of the woodwork were sent off to Pennsylvania for paint analysis so that interior paints would be the original colors applied to the house in the past.

A blacksmith in Massachusetts duplicated door latches by matching the impressions made in the wood by the original hardware. The old guillotine windows were retained; held open by small wood stops that pivot on the window casing. Whole sections of plaster were repaired or replaced with the old formula of lime, sand and hair. Replacing the original plaster was a problem, finding a person experienced with the old techniques and finding a source for the hair. After much searching, we found the right man and a source of hair in a Virginia upholstery supply firm.

Our Bed & Breakfast

Bird from Tavern House Bed & Breakfast Sign on front of B&BWhen completion of the restoration came closer, we realized that we had a five bedroom house. About then I had the opportunity to retire. Now what would two retired people do with a five bedroom house? Operate a bed and breakfast? It seemed like a good idea so we opened the doors of ‘The Tavern House’, our home, to guests in 1985.

Now we know it was a good idea. We have enjoyed the house, the peace and quiet of a small town, and we have stayed in contact with the outside world through our bed and breakfast guests.

We have had guests from all over the world stay at The Tavern House Bed & Breakfast — Canada, England, Germany, Russia, Sri Lanka and South Africa, to name just a few. The conversation has been great! Everyone brings interesting stories. And we have made many friends, many coming back year after year.

View a few Guest Comments here….

View from the Entry of The Tavern House B & B

View of the Nanticoke River from Vienna, Maryland's Tavern House Bed & Breakfast 21869
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