Sandaway Suites & Beach in Oxford, MD has a rich hotel history from being a centennial house to part of the Chesapeake Bay Yacht Club. Guests at Sandaway's historic Victorian Lodge now can enjoy modern hotel amenities in Oxford, Maryland.
Presumably, Colonel Samuel Wetherill, Sr. built the Sandaway Lodge sometime between 1873 and 1876. It may therefore be Oxford's centennial house. It was certainly standing in 1877 for its outline in much its present form appears on a map of Oxford prepared that same year by Lake, Griffing and Stevenson. Since Colonel Wetherill purchased the land for $450 in 1873, it is improbable that such an imposing structure could have then existed - even in the light of those days' money values.
Upon Colonel Wetherill's death in 1894, his widow sold the property to the Sinclair family, who operated it as a hotel until 1902, using the name "Sinclair House." Edna Sinclair, a direct descendant of that family was the Oxford Postmaster in 1975.
Mr. J. Edward Tylor bought the house from the Sinclairs and occupied it as a private home. It remained in use for that purpose until 1965, passing through a succession of owners. Among the latter was the Eastern Shore's prominent Goldsborough family. They remained in residence from 1910 until 1948, and for a brief time was the Chesapeake Bay Yacht Club's anchorage in Oxford, Maryland. One of the owners who succeeded the Goldsboroughs gave it the name "Sandaway," perhaps to relate it to "Sand-beach" - a term which had been applied to the vicinity for years before it contained any building of consequence. The present owners, Wendy and Ken Gibson, theorize, however, that "Sandaway" may have been adopted to describe the noticeable beach erosion over a passage of time - a condition corrected a lot by the construction of a new jetty.
Another interesting part of Sandaway Lodge's history was that is was also home to Kirkland Hall Junior College for Men during a brief time leading up to 1967. Kirkland Hall Junior College relocated to Easton, MD in 1967 on what is now the site of the Calhoon MEBA Engineering School. Kirkland Hall Junior College then became Ocean City College in Ocean City, Maryland from 1972 to 1974. The founding president of both Kirkland Hall Junior College ventures was Captain Walter J. Stencil (USN Ret). He was born in Ohio, in 1914, and was a 1937 graduate of the Naval Academy. He died in 2008, at the age of 94, in Easton. He had quite a distinguished career in the Navy, from Peal Harbor to the Cuban missile crisis. After his retirement, he settled on the Eastern Shore.
Wendy and Ken Gibson purchased the Robert Morris Inn and Sandaway from Wendy's father, George White Jr., in the year 1975. For many years Sandaway was known as the Robert Morris Lodge, serving as an annex to the historic Robert Morris Inn. In 2010 Ken & Wendy Gibson signed a lease to purchase agreement to sell the Robert Morris Inn to Chef Mark Salter and Ian Fleming. The Robert Morris Inn was sold in 2014, but Sandaway did not change hands. The Gibsons ran the Sandaway as a hotel bed and breakfast, marketing the property as Sandaway Suites & Beach. The Sandaway Lodge has 9 rooms, and there are 9 additional rentals on the waterfront property. Though Victorian in aspect, guest rooms are comfortably furnished. Most rooms look to the west past an expanse of well-manicured green lawn to the mile-wide Tred Avon River, Choptank River, and the Chesapeake Bay beyond. Sandaway's guests often sit on the screened porches and enjoy seeing a summer sunset gradually dim the white sails of homeward bound yachts. And later in the year, the lodge is a favorite refuge for waterfowl enthusiasts to watch the great Vs of geese wing their way above outbound oyster tongers' boats in the early dawn of a crisp fall morning.
In 2020 the Ken and Wendy Gibson celebrated 50 years of running Sandaway Suites & Beach. With the help of their son and Innkeeper Ben Gibson, they turned several of the interior rooms into waterfront vacation rentals for increased safety during the pandemic. Industry-leading hotel enhanced cleaning and safety measures with Select Safe were implemented. Click to read the Tidewater Times August 2020 feature story about the Gibson family and Sandaway Suites & Beach.
For the future, the Gibsons plan to operate as a Chesapeake Bay hotel with vacation rentals available. In 2021, breakfast will no longer be served at Sandaway, and 3 local breakfast spots in Oxford, MD will be promoted within walking distance for its guests. Salter's Tavern, the Oxford Market, and Oxford Social all get wonderful breakfast reviews. There are a total of five restaurants that also serve lunch and dinner in Oxford, Maryland that are within walking distance for Sandaway guests.
"Lots of porches, huge trees, and chaise lounges make this a comfortable retreat." Frommer's