The Historic Admiral Fell Inn
Home Sweet Home
Ahoy there me hearties! ‘Tis Barnacle here. Lemme tell you a story. A story of a place I call home. A story of a place where visitors stay whilst on vacation and leave with smiles on their faces. A story, of the Admiral Fell Inn.
The Admiral Fell Inn on Fell’s Point’s Historic Waterfront has risen from humble beginnings. William Fell, a Quaker, from Lancaster, England arrived in Old Baltimore in 1726. He was actually a good mate of my father’s father! It was because of him, we have some streets here in Fell’s Point named after some famous Brits: Thames, Fleet, Shakespeare, and Philpot! While you’re down here in Fell’s Point, take a walk around the neighborhood and see if you can find all the famous streets. Also, pay close attention to the buildings. There were some 350 early buildings, many pre-dating back to the 1800s and an additional 200 others pre-date the civil war!
Before the Admiral Fell Inn came to be, my father said it was once known as, ‘The Anchorage’. The Anchorage was a legendary seaman’s hostel that was established in 1889 by the Woman’s Auxiliary of the Port Mission. My father once said it was to maintain, under Christian influence, a boarding house for seamen, a ‘home away from home’, a social and recreational center where the seafarer might find safe refuge while in port. Father said those were the days. He met travelers far and wide and heard of many tales of the sea. Which I’ll have to share with you at a later date.
In 1929, the Young Men’s Christian Association converted the expanded Anchorage into a 105-bed Seaman’s YMCA with rooms so small that it was nicknamed, “the Doghouse”. And I know what you’re thinking, no my father did not stay there, but he did say it was rather small and occasionally…he did take naps there.
Lodging was provided to as many as 50,000 sailors a year! By the end of World War II, the cost to stay in a dorm-style rom had risen to 50 cents a night. A single room costs 1.25 a night. The YMCA stayed open until the mid 1950’s.
Baltimore’s bustling port which you can see outside the Admiral Fell Inn today, was central to Maryland’s economy until the early 20th century. When the role for sailing ships declined in the 1930s, the community of Fell’s point began to deteriorate along with it. The waterfront became a tough enclave of back-door saloons. Many of the properties were condemned in 1965 to make way for a new highway I-95. Which became known as the ‘Road War’.
What’s great about this community is that we’re all family. Together, my family and the community fought to halt the destruction of one of Baltimore’s only intact historical neighborhoods, which resulted in the designation of Fell’s Point as Maryland’s FIRST National Historic District. Fell’s Point was spared.
The cellars of the interconnected buildings of The Anchorage were turned into a cider and vinegar bottling factory known as the Vinegar Works. After the plant’s closing in the mid-1970s, the buildings remained unoccupied until the Inn was created in 1985. Now, an internationally acclaimed luxury hotel, the Admiral Fell Inn offers intimate elegance – amidst the still bustling working waterfront community. The Inn, which consists of seven different buildings, some dating back to the 1770s & 80s was chosen as a charter member of the National Trust for Historic Hotels of America!
And that’s the story of my home. A lot of history I know, but like my father once said, “You have to know the history to appreciate it”.