The History of the Monroe Bay Inn Bed & Breakfast*
The Children’s Salt Air Home was built by Professor Alexander Melville Bell, father of Alexander Graham Bell, in 1895 as a free summer place for under-nourished children and those recovering from illness. Rumor says the home was an orphanage but there were many children who had one parent. From the turn of the century until WWII, children came from Washington, D.C. on the St. John steamboat.
The location of the Children’s Salt Air Home was on Monroe Bay Avenue and Hamilton Street. This was a fairly large complex with a large main house (see photo above) and several outbuildings. There were five acres containing the main three-story building, a small one-story building and a two-story building containing the dormitory for small boys. The dormitory still stands, noticeably renovated, at 306 Hamilton Street – the Monroe Bay Inn Bed & Breakfast!
Local people recall that they and their friends, Colonial Beach town kids, used to go over to the children’s home and try to mingle with the “guests”. The kids who were spending their summers at the home had organized summer activities and the town kids wanted to be a part of the fun. They say that the place was huge and had a great shady pavilion where there were many impromptu basketball games. One woman said she once had a job as a kindergarten aide in more recent years in the “orphanage building” which housed grades K through 3 at that time for the Colonial Beach Public Schools.
Recently, I discovered that the Monroe Bay Inn was the first bed & breakfast in Colonial Beach. It was known as Quiet Water Cove and was designed and operated by Mickey and Kemper Beard beginning in 1990.
*Note from the Innkeeper: Over the last ten months, I have researched the Inn online and talked to several local people about the history of the Inn and have received or found the above information and photo. Watch this page for more information about the Inn. If you know any history of the Inn, please contact me.