When the owners of Hidden Harbor Marina in Deale, Maryland, tapped Devin Kimmel to design a freestanding bar on site, the Annapolis architect decided to go nautical. Critical-area laws ruled out siting the bar directly on the waterfront, but another idea dawned on him: “floating” it within view of the water and boatyard in a retrofitted boat.
As luck would have it, they discovered Southern Belle, a 1960s deadrise oyster boat, languishing in drydock. “She had an elongated shape, flat sides and great horizontal lines, which made her ideal for a bar,” Kimmel recalls. The owners bought the 39-foot Belle and the architect had its cockpit outfitted with the inner-workings of a bar. Teak counters were installed on her sides and a coat of sealant preserved her weathered patina.
Kimmel also designed an open-air, Tidewater-style boat shed to enclose the bar. It’s built with wood salvaged from a century-old tobacco barn nearby that, he says, “makes it look like it has some history to it.” A firepit lures guests on chilly nights.
Opened in 2017, the bar became an instant hit at the marina, which also encompasses the Anchored Inn. “You’re surrounded by boats and you can see the water when you sit there,” reflects Kimmel, principal of Kimmel Studio Architects. “It just feels like the Chesapeake Bay.”
The Boat House Bar is open from March through November; theboathousedeale.com.