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Son of the Famous "Chef Boyardee" Built Penderyn 
Estate in Queen Anne's County

Feb 20, 2015 12:00PM ● By Cate Reynolds

Boyardee’s Masterpiece

Son of the Famous Chef Built Penderyn Estate in Queen Anne’s County

by C.B. Scott

Built in 1989, the Penderyn Estate in Queenstown is all about the location. Nestled in the privacy of a peninsula on the Wye River with a 2,000-foot panoramic view of DeCoursey Cove, it is the perfect spot for a luxurious vacation home or hideaway. But when Mario J. Boiardi—son of Hector Boiardi, better known as Chef Boyardee—purchased the 18 acres in the 1980s, he and his wife, Maureen, envisioned something a bit more opulent. The couple built a sprawling 22,500 square foot Georgian-style mansion with indulgent extravagance and European treasures in almost every room. The grand marble foyer leads to a 60-foot arched marble hallway complete with marble busts and Chinese export ginger jars. The conservatory’s walls are lined with genuine Chinese silk wall coverings, and its vaulted ceiling sports a hand-painted trompe l’oeil Coyne. Large Palladian windows provide abundant natural light to the rooms, as well as showcase the beauty of the peninsula.

Eleven wood-burning fireplaces, including one in each of the eight bedrooms and plush drawing and billiard rooms provided luxurious comfort for the homeowners and guests. The fireplace in the family room came from a 16th French monastery, and the conservatory’s made of 17th century French limestone. Up to 22 guests can enjoy dinner in the formal dining room beneath an 18th century signed Perry of London crystal chandelier.

Of course, the estate boasts the expected everyday luxuries, as well. A two-story pool house, a heated four-bay garage, a personal sauna, and an inviting gourmet kitchen with Hobart appliances, a gas stove with six burners, and a royal blue cast iron heat-storage oven. The main house even has a two-story “in-law” wing with three bedrooms.

But the lure of this Georgian, eclectic circa 18th century style estate is less the lavish European interior than the sheer beauty of the peninsula and the Wye River. According to Daniel DeCaro, of DeCaro Luxury Real Estate Auctions, which recently listed and sold the property agent at auction, the estate sits on one of the best lots on the entire Eastern Shore. “It’s just a magnificent lot,” he says.

Indeed, this private, yet expansive waterfront was what drew Boiardi to the area, and he spent $18 million to construct an estate that takes full advantage of it. The property’s impressive water frontage sports views from almost every corner of the residence, which includes a 157-foot Bailey dock with 11 slips and deep water access. The main residence includes multiple private balconies, a large pool and patio, and a formal English rose garden, all with unobstructed views of the water. Mr. Boiardi named it “Penderyn” after a village in Wales.

While the estate cost a reported $18 million to build, the Boiardis sold it in 1999 to Morgan O’Brien, a founder of Nextel Communications, and his wife Belle Brooks O’Brien, for $8 million. Seven years later, in 2006, O’Brien put the property back on the market for a hefty $29 million. But the property didn’t sell. In fact, the property didn’t sell for seven years. By 2013, the price had gradually been reduced back to $8 million, the price O’Brien originally paid in 1999. Listings noted that the structures and appliances were top quality, but the furnishings were dated. With still no buyers, the listing was finally removed in favor of an absolute auction.

Now under the shadow of the auctioneer’s gavel, interested buyers came out of the proverbial woodwork. More than 500 potential buyers traveled to the Eastern Shore over three weekends of open houses to view the property. When the absolute auction took place July 19, 2014, 16 parties bid on the property. In the end, the 18-acre estate closed for $3.9 million, less than half of what O’Brien originally paid, and only 28 percent of the $13.9 million assessed value of the estate, according to Maryland property tax records.

According to Mr. DeCaro, that price is a steal for the beautiful peninsula location alone. And admirers of the waterfront locale now have a chance to build their own piece of paradise. In October, 11 acres of waterfront land were listed by Rosendale Realty, the buyer’s agent for the winning bidders at the auction. The parcel includes a waterfront building site, has deep water access, and overlooks the state-owned Wye Island Natural Resource Area. The parcel is currently listed for $1.1 million.

Sources: Daniel DeCaro (listing agent), DeCaro Luxury Real Estate Auctions, 800-332-3767,; Michael Rosendale (buyer’s agent), Rosendale Realty, 410-643-2166,