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The Mains Gate at LANGDON FARM


Do you ever find yourself saying, “If I ever win the lottery, I am going to . . .?” A young couple found themselves asking that question of themselves two years ago when they stepped out in faith to purchase one of Bay Hundred’s iconic historic estates. But it wasn’t a lottery win that inspired Arlene and Tye Mains to leave their comfortable suburban lifestyle in Northern Virginia, to take over ownership of Langdon Farm in Sherwood. It was a project they had dreamed about years before that they called “Imagine” that motivated them to uproot their family and create a new lifestyle on the Eastern Shore.

In 2017, Tye was commuting to Dallas, Texas, building high-end custom-built homes with his company Mains Signature Homes. His wife Arlene was working in real estate in Northern Virginia. The two played tag team raising their three young daughters.

“One night when Tye was in Dallas, our house got broken into while I was alone with our three girls,” said Arlene. “That was the impetus for us to decide to leave the area. It was a really scary experience.”

The couple had already been feeling like change was in the air as their youngest daughter who was nonverbal had been recently diagnosed with autism.

“We were beginning to see that every child has different needs and the idea of unplugging from the rat race we were experiencing in Northern Virginia was something we had talked about,” said Arlene. “We were imagining what it would be like to raise our children reconnected to community and a home in a more rural area.”

The couple decided to put their house on the market. When it sold immediately, they moved in with family, not knowing where they would go. In 2019 when Tye returned from Dallas, they began looking at farms.

“We both really like history,” Arlene said. “Langdon Farm in Sherwood, Maryland came up in our search, but it was on the market for $10 million, and we couldn’t afford that. We both even said to each other, ‘If we win the lottery, we will buy it.’”

The 153-acre waterfront historic property which was originally listed at $15 million in mid-2007, experienced several price reductions. When the price of the property was reduced to $6.5 million, the couple took notice again. Something was drawing them back to it.

“We were not the traditional buyer to purchase a property like this. We realized that if we could purchase the farm, it had to be a business,” said Arlene.

They had good credit and some assets to put toward the purchase but needed to create a business plan about how they would generate income from the property. After exploring every angle they could through the USDA and Farm Credit, the seller then agreed to temporarily hold the financing until the couple could secure permanent financing. That sealed the deal and the couple purchased Langdon Farm in December 2020 for $4.2 million.

“We never thought this would happen,” Tye said. “When I took my family to see the house, my brothers shocked me when they told me that our father, who lived in Virginia, had put an offer on the house in the mid70s that wasn’t accepted. What a coincidence. We then knew this was supposed to be our home.”

Buying a historic property of this size during the pandemic created immediate challenges for the Mains in terms of generating income even though both continued with their day jobs. Their business plan included having shortterm rentals in the main house on the property and leasing its farmland.

To initially deal with the costs of stabilizing the property, the Mains did short-term rentals. One of their first show in the main house. The couple learned a lot about the wear and tear on the property with this type of rental and have adapted their rentals to small CEO retreats and intimate family gatherings.

“We are now very cautious about who comes to stay because people often don’t always care for it the way we do,” Arlene shared. “We are hands-on owners with Tye doing repair work and upkeep and me cleaning the rooms.”

“Tye has always been one to swing for the fences,” quipped Arlene. Tye added, “I like to go above and beyond for the excitement and thrill of doing something different.”

Both credit their parents and ancestors for giving them their fortitude for a challenge. To leave their legacy on the farm, the couple decided to name the farm The Mains Gate at Langdon.

“We want to allow the property to show itself and be aligned with its original purpose,” stated Arlene.

The main house on the property was built circa 1769. A former property owner won it in a bridge game so it was named Bridge’s Chance by his daughters. As with many Bay Hundred mansions, the house saw many historical events, including being occupied by British soldiers during the War of 1812.

The main house has 10 bedrooms and 9 bathrooms, 11 fireplaces, a swimming pool with a hot tub, a pool house, a cabana, and a 280-foot deep-water dock. There is a traditional English boxwood garden and a kitchen garden, as well as apple orchards and a graveyard. The 18 outbuildings include the main house, the overseer’s house, a springhouse, a woodshed, a garage, a chicken house, a greenhouse, a smokehouse, a slaughterhouse, a storage building, a machine shed, a barn, and a linear complex containing a stable, a carriage house, a storage shed, a machine shed, a granary, and a corncrib. The farm boasts roughly 4,000 feet of waterfront footage on Harris Creek and Dun Cove and is located off Tilghman Island Road to the north of Tilghman Island.

Mabel Lindsay Gillespie, a Pittsburgh heiress, developed the entire farm complex as a summer home for herself between 1929 and 1969. Locals reported to the Mains that at some point she used it as a school for underserved children and that her farm helped supply food to locals.

“Bay Hundred houses like this have so much history and are often tucked away from the community. Our dream is to allow the property to be utilized by the community,” Arlene said.

“I used to dream about this place I called ‘Imagine’ –a farm where people worked in the gardens, where kids came and learned about the natural environment, and where there were apple trees,” she said. “When we came here so much of what I was dreaming about was here.”

“You must walk between your imagination and reality,” Arlene continued. “We want to do this to inspire people to get into their bigger life, which means trusting their instincts. If you have a reoccurring thought as we did, there’s something to it and that’s leading you to a cool place that you think is out of your reach.”

The couple has enjoyed sharing the property with local organizations. The Avalon Theatre held its 100th Anniversary party at the mansion, the Girl Scouts met on the property, and they hosted activities of the Plein Air Festival. They also allow a local yoga instructor to provide classes to the community on the farm in one of its buildings.

“Our goal is to put the farm back together and keep the integrity of this historic property,” Arlene said. “To do

Plans for Project Imagine include offering a CSA with heirloom vegetables, fruits, and flowers from the farm’s organic gardens, therapeutic riding programs, endangered farm animals, and children’s programming. To help fund the restoration plans and expanded programming, the Mains hope to sell their 24-acre parcel of property in conservation easements on Tilghman Island Road to a local nonprofit organization to benefit the youth and community of the Bay Hundred area. The Mains hope that the property can be used to develop natural forestry programs, offer walking trails and have an educational component for teaching kids about the environment on the Eastern Shore.

“Because we purchased the farm during the pandemic, it was a blessing of sorts,” said Arlene. “It gave us the time to slowly get integrated into the Tilghman community and to determine some of the local needs of the community. We have never felt more supported than we do here. People are so kind and inviting. We determined access to a central community space was one of the highest needs. Project Imagine will be giving land back to the community and creating community programming for everyone, including children with special needs like our daughter.”

Redrock Productions visited The Mains Gate at Langdon to discuss a network potentially wanting to capture the couple’s adventure as it unfolds.

“We have merged the farm and Project Imagine in our minds creating a place owned by no one and built for everyone where people can really grow and ultimately help to change the world,” said Arlene. “We didn’t get here logically and we’re not going to stay here logically. We kept following our intuition and were open to every destination that came up. Once you set an intention that clears the path to your dreams, you just have to be brave enough to follow a path you can’t see with your eyes. And that’s how we got to The Mains Gate at Langdon.”

To follow The Mains Gate at Langdon, visit themainsgate.com or follow them on social media.

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