Have you always dreamed of owning an island? There is one for sale on the upper St. Marys River that offers solitude, tranquil views, and a rumored scandalous past.
Tippity Witchity Island, which comes with a three-bedroom vacation home, pool and dock with a lift, is being offered by David DeSantis of Sotheby’s for $2.1 million.
There are a number of stories that swirl around the island’s history. While early St. Mary’s County records show the island was bought by Captain Henry Howgate in 1879, the real estate listing says, “Depending on whom you believe, this Howgate was either a notorious Confederate smuggler or a former Union Army officer with a penchant for embezzlement.”
When Howgate bought the isle, it was known as Lynch Island. Its peculiar name “Tippity Witchity” is apparently a corruption of the name “Tippling and Witchery Island,” named for a house of ill-repute located there following the Civil War.
That’s according to Chesapeake Bay Magazine‘s own Cruising Editor Jody Argo Schroath, who wrote about the island’s tree-lined shores during a multi-stop Potomac cruise in 2017.
The Tippity Witchity listing mentions a house of ill-repute and distillery designed as an off-the-radar place to trade on the waterways of the Chesapeake Bay after crackdowns in the port of Alexandria.
In the 1950s, new owner Earnest Dickey built a house on Howgate’s property, which had the first electric heat pump anywhere in St. Mary’s County. The current owners bought the house 50 years ago, and this is the first time it’s been up for sale since.
The nearly five-acre property includes both riprap and living shoreline, a beach launch for paddlecraft, and nature trails in addition to the dock with lift. There’s about six feet of water (MLW) at the dock. The house’s three bedrooms each walk out to the lawn or waterfront. A screened-in gazebo porch has river views. A heated in-ground pool has a secluded garden location.
So how will you get to and from your island? You’ll need a boat. The property has an easement on farmland on the riverbank where the owners can land a boat. The island is a 5-10 minute boat ride to St. Mary’s College of Maryland and 90 minutes’ drive from Washington, D.C.
-Meg Walburn Viviano