Baltimore neighborhood is about to get very secure

Baltimore Sun

The painter, prepping to apply a couple of coats of linen white, didn’t know who was about to move in. A neighbor had no clue either. Even the seller didn’t realize who had bought his South Baltimore row house.

The first time Daddy visits, though, any lingering mystery will vanish, right around the time the serious-looking, earpiece-wearing Secret Service agents show up: Jenna Bush and Henry Hager, who by then will be her husband, are moving into a two-story, 128-year-old row house in a lively neighborhood south of downtown.

The White House wouldn’t comment on the couple’s new digs. (It rarely discusses the Bush family’s private doings.) Real estate and property tax documents, though, confirm that Hager bought the house last month for $440,000. He turned over power of attorney to Jenna for the purpose of signing purchasing and financing documents in his name -- including an affidavit that stated this would be Hager’s principal residence.

It’s unclear when Jenna -- the blond half of President Bush’s 26-year-old twin daughters -- and Hager, a former aide to Karl Rove, will move in. The couple are scheduled to marry at the president’s ranch near Crawford, Texas, on May 10, and Hager, 29, is due to receive an MBA at the University of Virginia about a week later. Then there’s been talk of a long honeymoon in Europe.


But after that, imagine the possibilities of future sightings in the neighborhood: There’s Rub, the barbecue restaurant whose menu tips its (cowboy) hat to Ruby’s, a beloved eatery just off the campus of Jenna’s alma mater, the University of Texas in Austin; and Ropewalk, the watering hole that serves as something of a Republican oasis in an overwhelmingly Democratic neighborhood and city.

Roger Sandau, a lawyer and insurance broker who had lived in the house for a year before selling it, said neither Hager nor Jenna Bush was at the closing, having signed the necessary documents earlier and leaving the actual settlement to their agent.

“I had no idea that’s who bought it,” he said. “I heard it was a relocation for Constellation.”

It is: Hager reportedly has been hired by the energy conglomerate, which is the parent company of BGE and has its headquarters nearby.

Told who Hager and his fiancee are, Sandau wasn’t overly impressed -- he works in the entertainment business and has a client list that he says includes “many” celebrities -- but was delighted.

“There’s a real sort of heartbeat in that neighborhood. Their ability to walk to restaurants and bars will make it wonderful for them,” Sandau said.

Neighbors say the red brick row house with a wood-framed storefront window is believed to have been a dry cleaners and a candy shop in previous incarnations. It’s spacious, by row-house standards, at nearly 2,000 square feet, and a peek through the first-floor windows reveals that it has exposed brick walls, a fireplace and hardwood floors.

But the prime piece of this real estate is in back: an attached garage.

“I would say that when it snows,” Sandau said, “they will smile with glee every time they pull in.”

Perhaps in part because of the guaranteed space in a neighborhood where parking is at a premium, the house generated a lot of interest despite an otherwise down market, Sandau said.

“I would move in yesterday,” said neighbor Jen Kearney, who pronounced the house in “fantastic shape.” She was tickled to learn who had bought the house, welcoming them and whatever fringe benefits they bring.

“I’ll love having her security,” Kearney said of the Secret Service detail that guards members of the president’s family.