Caring for the Past, Preserving for the Future

On a morning at Bowman’s Folly, you may begin the day by drinking coffee while walking through the garden full of roses and zucchini in the summer. In the winter, perhaps you’d watch the ducks foraging in the pond.

Robin Rinaca and her husband, Nick Covatta, lived and worked at their nursery with their two daughters Anna and Danielle. They could never quite disconnect from work. “You’d look out the window and work was right there in the backyard,” recalled Robin. There was little peace or privacy. But Robin dreamed of a place on the seaside with an old house. “I love historic houses, the wildness of the seaside, privacy, and undeveloped surroundings. That’s what drew me to Bowman’s Folly,” she remembers.

Although Bowman’s Folly had renters from time to time, the owners hadn’t lived there in 100 years. General John Cropper’s family owned the property since the 1600s but his heirs had followed paths away from the family home. The house, built in 1815, needed to be updated for modern living. The grounds and cemetery, where General Cropper is buried, were overtaken by vegetation.

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Caring for History and Wildlife

As things go on the Eastern Shore, an acquaintance mentioned the property and beautiful historic house to Robin. Although it wasn’t listed for sale, Robin and Nick bought the property in 1988.

It took 2 years to realize their dream. Robin and her family moved into Bowman’s Folly in 1990. “I’m happy I am able to care for the history and the wilderness here,” she reflected. “The cemetery and house are taken care of. There are gardens, a pond, and trails in the woods. I really enjoy it,” Robin added. Robin shares her love for Bowman’s Folly with her daughters and son-in-law and by taking friends for walks in the woods. The wildlife enjoy it too. The pond often hosts 50 or 60 egrets. It’s a wild place full of mallow, cat tails, ducks, bullfrogs and snapping turtles, who sun themselves on the fallen trees.

“It’s a special property from an environmental and historic perspective. From the beginning I knew we needed to do something to protect it,” Robin explained. It was originally around double its current size, possibly around 1,200 acres. “We really wanted to protect what we could of that legacy,” she added.

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“I feel more like a steward, someone who is caring for and taking responsibility for the house and property until the next generation.”

- Robin Rinaca, easement donor

For the Next Generation

So Robin and Nick placed a conservation easement on the property. Bowman’s Folly may pass to new hands. But the conservation agreement will remain, conserving rich history and important wildlife habitat.

“I’m not comfortable with the concept of ownership,” explained Robin. “I feel more like a steward, someone who is caring for and taking responsibility for the house and property until the next generation.”

This sentiment was echoed by Nick before he passed away in 2012, “Land is enduring. One person doesn’t really own it, we are merely custodians for future generations.”