Haunts & Jaunts: Vino Villa

Vino Villa, Greenwood

The Vino Villa from Madison Avenue.
*Photos by Rick Hinton

  I had driven by the home on 200 N. Madison Avenue many times, always on the way to somewhere else. The summer months found large groups of people on the outside patio, smiling and seemingly oblivious to the traffic rolling past. Finally my wife and I made a point to stop, park and go inside. I’m glad we did. The house has always intrigued me, but I couldn’t put a finger on it. I soon found out why. This historic home, occupied by Vino Villa, had once been home to a member of the Polk family. I was intrigued—historically, and soon culinarily!

J.T.Polk started a canning business in 1872, beginning modestly with tomatoes. By 1887 his operation expanded to fruits and vegetables. Brick buildings were constructed to employ over 500 workers. Simple houses were constructed in the neighborhood

Main staircase of what was once a family home.

for employees. These homes, and a few restored buildings, are still a fixture along Main Street in Greenwood. Claiming the honor as the largest cannery west of Baltimore, Polk became Greenwood’s largest employer… essentially putting Greenwood on the map! Yet, at the end of the work day, J.T. Polk had to go somewhere to rest his head. Rumor is that his home was located east of the cannery, where present day Valley Vista Golf Course sits. (Once the site of the Polk dairy barns) J.T.’s son Ralph and wife Grace built their residence a little closer into town in 1904, naming it “Maples.” It’s now known, in a different incarnation, as Vino Villa.

Wine racks on the 1st floor level.

Laura and I were wine ignorant, yet we wanted to learn. We couldn’t find better teachers than the staff, especially our waitress, Amy. The three-story home, with intimate seating in multiple rooms, became an experience in artesian dining,and uncorking a bottle. Outdoor seating on the patio is offered (with music) for warmer months. Vino offers a vast selection of wine, gourmet cheese, pizza and beer, an array of appetizers, sandwiches, salads, breads and deserts. Laura and I have yet to order from the entire menu, but we plan to in time. Other services offered are anniversary and birthday parties, bridal showers, small weddings and receptions, wine tastings and accessories. And a Wine Club! We joined on our first visit.

   Paul and Laura Jacquin bought the property in 2010. They put in a lot of work to get their vision where it needed to be. “It ultimately came down to the atmosphere we wanted,” Paul stated. It began as a labor of love and continues to this day.    

   Is it haunted? A few of the employees think so….