A Busy Seaport
The Fell family, Quakers from Lancaster, England, founded Fell's Point in 1730, and developed it into a major shipbuilding center, as well as a busy deep-water seaport for importing and exporting. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, Fell's Point was bustling with exports of Maryland tobacco and grain and imports from Europe and the West Indies.
A Safe Haven
By 1900, Fell's Point had become a rough district full of sailors, saloons and brothels. In answer to the prevalence of drunkenness and debauchery, the Port Mission Women's Auxiliary opened The Anchorage—a boarding house and recreational center run on Christian values where seaman could enjoy a safe night's sleep, after a mandatory delousing, of course. The Anchorage is the central structure of the seven buildings that make up The Admiral Fell Inn.
As the Port Mission encouraged more seaman to stay at The Anchorage, more space was needed, and buildings surrounding the boarding house were connected to it. In 1929, the YMCA took over The Anchorage and continued the tradition of a Christian boarding house, expanding it to a 105-room Seaman's YMCA, with rooms so small it was nicknamed "the doghouse". The Seaman's YMCA provided lodging for as many as 50,000 sailors a year, and operated until 1955. When it closed, a variety of tenants occupied the buildings, the last of which was a vinegar and cider bottling factory known as the Vinegar Works, which closed in the 1970s.
A New Beginning
In the years after the YMCA vacated the buildings, the structures had fallen into disrepair. A total renovation was completed in 1985, and The Anchorage was reopened as a 38-room bed and breakfast called The Admiral Fell Inn. In 1996, the Inn was expanded into a hotel complete with 80 rooms, rooftop meeting and event space, and furnishings and aesthetics that hark back to the 18th-century era from which it arose.
Since its expansion, the Inn has become an internationally acclaimed hotel, offering intimate elegance in the midst of the still-bustling waterfront community. Because the building's original architectural and historical integrity was preserved in the renovation and expansion, the Inn was chosen as a charter member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Historic Hotels of America.
Today, visitors of The Admiral Fell Inn can enjoy beautifully appointed boutique hotel-style accommodations in a prime location convenient to Fell's Point dining and entertainment.