By Ryan Cornell
Middletown's historic Wayside Inn will return to the auction block on Oct. 16.
Owners Jacob and Lois Charon, who bought the property for $1 million at an April 2009 auction, have authorized the bidding to start at $535,000, which was the same starting price at the auction four years ago. They have listed the reserve price at $775,000, which is $220,000 less than the minimum reserve price back in 2009.
A cashier's check for $55,000 must be presented to bid on the property.
This isn't the first time the inn has been on the market since the Charons purchased it. The property was listed for sale last December with an asking price of $1.5 million.
One of the oldest continuously operated inns in the U.S., the Wayside Inn first opened its doors to guests in 1797. It was owned by Leo Bernstein, a Washington, D.C., banker and philanthropist, from 1960 until his death.
The inn has 22 rooms, a conference center and a restaurant.
Gordon Greene, an auctioneer with the Chartwell Group, is handling the auction. He noted the inn's historic value, kitchen, seven dining rooms and reception area as selling points.
"These very unique properties need the high profile of an auction," he said.
He said the Chartwell Group auctioned off the Hotel Strasburg in 2009, property surrounding the Strasburg Emporium in 2010 and the Berkeley Springs Castle in West Virginia.
He said the sellers didn't want to establish a number that was too high for bidders.
"You have to make it worthwhile for them to come and look," Greene said, adding that is important for buyers of unusual properties.
He said he's starting to call people about the property being auctioned and will post the first advertisement in Monday's edition of The Washington Post.
"It's a special place," Mrs. Charon said. "Someone will come and get a good buy out of it."
She said she and her husband plan to move back home to Prince William County after the property is sold.
"We work hard here," she said. "We're not 18 years old and we have some health issues we need to address. You don't do this forever."
She said the closing of the Wayside Theatre last month had no effect on the price they listed.
The auction will begin at noon on Oct. 16 and will be held on-site.
Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org