The Black-Eyed Susan, an 111-foot stern-wheeler paddleboat reproduction, has a winning bidder. In what appears to be a happy ending for the riverboat in need of major repairs, it’s expected to go to live at a local bed-and-breakfast.
In late September, Bay Bulletin reported the paddleboat was up for auction. Now, the Town of Snow Hill has announced that the Black-Eyed Susan will have a new home in Snow Hill, staying along the Pocomoke River as the town originally intended.
Three bids were submitted for the Town Council to decide on, with Mayor Mike Pruitt giving his recommendation for the highest bidder. The Town of Snow Hill chose Henry Wright, owner of the River House Inn, a B & B in Snow Hill along the Pocomoke riverfront.
Wright, who has his captain’s license, made a bid of $75,000 to take ownership of the paddleboat and move it to the bulkhead of the River House Inn on Market Street. It’s been confirmed that the Black-Eyed Susan will fit through the drawbridge from its current home to its new one, but it’s not yet known whether the boat’s engines are working. If they aren’t, he’ll hire a tow, Wright said in his winning bid.
The River House Inn is a striking Victorian on the river that has been converted into a B & B with rooms available in its “main house” as well as three cottages. It is operated by innkeepers Bonnie Markell and Lisa Hardiman, who took over this year after 14 years working together as real estate professionals. The inn advertises its swimming pool, river views, and fluffy waffles at breakfast.
Wright’s plan is to open the Black-Eyed Susan as a permanent amusement, a “a delightful restaurant and event venue” featuring live music as part of the renovation of the River House Inn. He writes, “Our hearts have been captured by Snow Hill’s unique charm,” and says it’s a primary goal of the inn to invigorate the town’s economy.
“If you build it, they will come,” quips Markell.
But it will take some time to see this dream become reality. Wright is still awaiting paperwork to complete the sale. As Wright explains in his bid, once the sale goes through it will likely take 6-8 months to get the permits to build a dock for the riverboat and another 4-6 weeks to build the pier itself.
“We wish Mr. Wright and the future of the Black-Eyed Susan the very best,” the town wrote in a statement.
-Meg Walburn Viviano