The house, inspired by Italian countryside estates, was built in 1929 for Robert Garrett, winner of six Olympic medals — including gold medals in the shot put and discus throw — at the first modern Games, in Athens, in 1896 The Baltimore activist was largely responsible for bringing the Boy Scouts of America to the region, and ran the city’s parks and recreation agencies in the 1940s and 1950s until asked to resign from the Board of Park Commissioners due to his opposition to racial integration.
The Garretts were a prosperous and prominent Maryland family. Robert was an investment banker and philanthropist as well as an Olympic athlete. An aunt founded the Baltimore Museum of Art, a grandfather ran the nation’s first passenger railroad, and an older brother worked in the State Department as a diplomat.
Gibson’s island house was Garrett’s summer home. The private island, purchased for $165,000 in 1921, was developed as a summer community and attracted, among others, Baltimore socialites dissatisfied with the quality of the city’s golf courses. Today it is ranked by Forbes as the 24th most expensive zip code in the country.
Gibson Island Corp. owns the public spaces on the island, and the island has a private police force. The Gibson Island Club (membership by invitation only) has, among other amenities, a nine-hole golf course designed by prominent course architect Charles B. Macdonald, tennis courts, and a clubhouse. There are also private marinas on Gibson Island, which has become famous for its sailing culture, one of the main reasons Elizabeth and Mark Rogers bought Villa dei Fiori in 2005.
Elizabeth Rogers said she fell in love with the home — which had undergone a three-year renovation — when she entered the open-plan great room, with its six-foot-wide fireplace, original ceiling, and custom Murano chandeliers. The room also features a wet bar with cherry folding doors and Miele dishwasher. Multiple French doors open to a porched deck overlooking the water.
“We look directly over the Magothy River as it enters the Chesapeake Bay,” Rogers said. “On the nights that there are fireworks, you can see the fireworks coming out from Annapolis, and sometimes all the way to Washington, along the water. Very very nice.
The main floor includes a library with custom furniture and marble framing a wood-burning fireplace; a family room; a sunlit breakfast nook with large windows; and a kitchen with a cathedral ceiling, where Rogers said his grandchildren like to cook using ingredients from the garden. There is also a bedroom, with cherry hardwood floors and private bathroom, which could be used as a master bedroom. The Rogers family calls it the “VIP room”.
The primary bedroom suite can be reached down a spiral staircase with wrought iron balustrades created by Patrick Cardine, an acclaimed blacksmith and designer, some of whose work can be seen at the Washington National Cathedral. The journey to the lower floor can also be made using an elevator with inlaid wood carvings.
The primary bedroom has Venetian plaster walls, multiple cedar walk-in closets, and a bathroom with shower, freestanding tub, and dual sinks. This floor has three more bedrooms (although one is equipped as a home gym), each with a private bathroom. There is a mahogany wine cellar, a sauna and a sunny corridor overlooking the sea.
Alongside the main residence, the estate features a detached coach house with home theater on the first floor and a studio apartment on the second. Rogers said the coach house was occupied by the captain of his sailboat during the summer.
A pool and hot tub behind the house are flanked by two vine-wrapped pergolas. One side of the house has a sculpture garden. A gated path at the front of the house leads to a cobbled patio at the end of the driveway and a two-car garage, hidden from view.
Behind the house, the property slopes down to the water and the landscaping includes a vineyard, rows of berry, fig and apple trees. There are more than 25,000 perennial flowers — perhaps the inspiration for the estate’s name, which translates from Italian to “House of Flowers.”
Rogers describes life on the island almost like a trip to Lake Como in Italy, but much closer to his family in Maryland.
“Every morning, we wake up and enjoy the home, Gibson Island loving, quiet pleasantness,” Rogers said. “We sit down to breakfast, look at the view and say, ‘It’s just wonderful to be here.’ “
744 Skywater Rd., Gibson Island, Md.
- Bedrooms/bathrooms: 5/9
- Approximate square footage: The main house is 12,987 square feet; the coach house is 1,760 square feet.
- lot size: 3.5 acres
- Features: This estate, inspired by the Italian countryside and Gibson’s private island, has been on sale for the first time since 2005. Most of the five bedrooms overlook where the Magothy River meets the Chesapeake Bay and each has a private bathroom. bath. Notable features include a sauna, hot tub, swimming pool, garden and vineyard. There is room for two vehicles in the garage and several more on the cobbled patio at the end of the driveway.
- Listing Agent: Sarah Kanne, Gibson Island Corp. real estate