Here’s a “known known”: Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is letting go of his vacation home in St. Michaels, MD. The Eastern Shore residence, which Rumsfeld, 87, picked up in 2003 for $1.5 million, is on the market for $2.45 million.
The sleepy town, about 2.5 hours from Washington, DC, offers a respite from the hurly-burly of political life, for tourists and notable names alike.
But the historic home from 1805 comes with a sinister past—way, way before Rumsfeld ever came on the scene.
The property, known as “Mount Misery,” by 1833, was apparently the home of a farmer, Edward Covey, who also routinely took on the role of “slave breaker,” the New York Times reported as a side note to a travelogue on the town of St. Michaels.
According to the Times article, Covey got his hands on the “rebellious” Frederick Douglass, who grew up in the area and went on to become a great abolitionist leader and statesman.
Douglass described the violent but formative experience in his book, “My Bondage and My Freedom,” writing, “I shall never be able to narrate the mental experience through which it was my lot to pass during my stay at Covey’s. I was completely wrecked, changed, and bewildered; goaded almost to madness at one time, and at another reconciling myself to my wretched condition.”
When Covey tried to “break” him, Douglass reportedly fought back, and escaped.
A 2006 article in the Baltimore Sun suggested that Mount Misery’s history be reclaimed by turning the place into a museum or a monument to a horrific chapter in U.S. history.
For some, the home’s moniker of “Mount Misery” may hit a little too close to home. Rumsfeld’s tenure in the Cabinet of George W. Bush was controversial for its embrace of torture as a means of extracting information from suspected terrorists, A play titled “Mount Misery,” exploring the story of the historic property and commenting on the lives of both Douglass and Rumsfeld, was staged in a theater in San Francisco in 2015.
The Georgian brick abode, located on 4 private acres, was built on land granted by Lord Baltimore in 1667.
Original elements of the four-bedroom, 4.5-bath abode include doors, floors, mantels, and five fireplaces. Measuring 4,052 square feet, the structure was restored in 1954, and then expanded and upgraded by Rumsfeld in 2003. It has an updated kitchen, dining room, multiple living spaces, a gym, and an office.
The grounds include flowering shrubs, patios, gardens, plus a pool, sauna, and tennis court. The property also has a 135-foot pier, two power boat hoists, and 700 feet of creek shoreline.
Mount Misery must love company. In June, former Vice President Dick Cheney, a longtime friend of the former secretary of defense, sold his neighboring vacation retreat in St. Michaels at a loss, at $2.1 million, after placing it on the market in April for a little over $2.49 million.
In 2005, he and his wife, Lynne Cheney, paid $2,667,500 for the estate, located just a couple of miles from Rumsfeld’s residence.
Rumsfeld served as secretary of defense from 1975 to 1977 under President Gerald Ford, and under Bush from 2001. His tenure ended when he resigned from the post in 2006. After he retired, he wrote his autobiography, “Known and Unknown: A Memoir.”
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