"The voters appreciate sound fiscal policy, and we felt that this decision was a fiscally responsible one" said Mayor G. Fred Robinson. "Additional services cost money, and if we can find creative ways to pay for those services instead of raising taxes, that's a win for everyone in my book."
After purchasing the 5 1/2 acre property from Levitt & Sons for $1 in 1964, the city used the mansion as Bowie City Hall for fourteen years. The building later underwent major renovations, and it reopened as a museum in 1995.
"I'm going to miss the old place," said Bowie's Historic Properties Manager, Pam Williams. "I'm going to miss it all - the distant view of Foxhill Lake from my office window, seeing the kids sledding in the winter, and, of course, the annual tree lighting ceremony every December." Williams hopes that the next owner converts the property into a bed and breakfast.
Construction of the original section of the mansion was complete around 1747 for Provincial Governor of Maryland, Samuel Ogle and his wife Anne Tasker. After Governor Ogle's death, Benjamin Tasker, Jr. became responsible for the management of the property. Tasker is credited with planting the row of Tulip Poplar trees leading to the property - many of which are still standing today. The service wing on the east side of the mansion and the sunroom were added by members of the Woodward family in the early 20th century. The Woodwards are also credited with construction of the stone stable building and the bridge over Foxhill Lake.
The city listed the property with local realtor "Special" Ed Haraway of Exit First Realty. "Ed's been selling houses in the Bowie area for more than 30 years," said Robinson. "We felt that he was the one to best represent this unique property."
"Selling the Belair Mansion is going to be harder than selling your typical Rancher or Colonial," said Haraway, "but I welcome the opportunity." Haraway believes that he'll have a buyer within six months. "I bet there's a wealthy business owner out there just dying for something a little different - a unique place to live and host swanky parties," speculated Haraway.
According to the MLS listing, the mansion has 25 rooms, 6 bathrooms, a new heating system and energy efficient draperies that convey with the property. The asking price? $3.2 million.