A sprawling 557-acre former MBNA retreat known as Bracebridge Hall in Earleville, Md., is going on the auction block Aug. 7.
The bucolic estate borders parts of Back Creek near McGill Creek leading into the Sassafras River.
Auctioneer Gilbert A. Schwartzman is expecting to draw a large group of people from all over the U.S. and beyond for the 2 p.m. auction.
“This is a spectacular property,” Schwartzman said, while hosting an open house for prospective bidders Tuesday afternoon.
It was the third and final open house prior to the auction, which is set to take place on the front steps of the grand mansion home, weather permitting next Wednesday.
If not, the auction will be conducted inside, but that’s not the preference of Schwartzman, who works for Tranzon, a national auction firm.
“Auctions need to be loud and outside,” Schwartzman said.
He ought to know. He’s been in the business for 38 years.
The Georgian brick colonial home was built in 1991 by Richard Crocker as a 24,000-square-foot private mansion.
He sold it in 1997 to MBNA America, a growing credit card company with corporate offices in Delaware.
MBNA expanded the home to 31,500-square-feet for its use as a corporate retreat and conference center for its employees.
The property flourished as a retreat during MBNA’s heyday. Eventually, the credit card firm put the property on the market and sold it to Chaffin/Light Associates, developers from Annapolis.
The developers had a vision of developing the site for 106 single family homes, a golf course and clubhouse. They got approval for 106 lots, but never completed the golf course design before the economy took a downturn.
Now, the bank that holds the mortgage is auctioning off the property.
In years past, this estate drew interest from some famous people like the late pop star Michael Jackson, who Schwartzman said spent three nights at Bracebridge Hall while considering a potential purchase.
He also said former Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre looked at the property when it was on the market before.
The focal point of the property is a 31,000-square-foot home with nine bedrooms, 19 bathrooms, several kitchens, two conference rooms, living areas, dining rooms, grand entry ways and outdoor patios with views of the water.
It also boasts tennis courts, a helicopter pad, barns and two guest homes.
Eagles, deer and other wildlife are prolific on the site, which sits between Grove Neck Road and the water.
A buyer could use the entire property for himself, or choose to sell off the individual lots, Schwartzman said.
At any rate, potential buyers need to have $500,000 cash or a cashier’s check for deposit at the conclusion of the auction. A total deposit, which is 10-percent of the winning bid price, is due by the end of business on Aug. 14. The winning bid must be accepted by the trustees and approved by Cecil County Circuit Court before it’s final.
Schwartzman said he’ll call for the auction at 2 p.m. sharp, but not begin until about 2:10 p.m. by reading the legal notice first. After he and the trustees make a few announcements, bidders will be able to ask questions before the bidding starts.