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What's Up Magazine

Candlelight Tour Features Historic Annapolis Homes

Jan 11, 2011 11:33PM ● By Anonymous

Tucked into a row of stately brick townhouses is a house that appears small from the front but, in fact, is four rooms deep and contains two sets of staircases. Dating to the mid 19th century, it has been remodeled twice—first in 1890 and again in 2003—each time enlarged further with the addition of yet another group of rooms.

This lovely home is one of a dozen that are open for public viewing during the Historic Annapolis Foundation’s 19th Annual Candlelight Tour on Friday, November 5th, and Saturday, November 6th, from 5–9 p.m. each evening. Tickets cost $30 ($25 if purchased in advance).

The original wooden clapboard structure was only two rooms deep—today, the kitchen and dining room on the first floor, and one of the three bedrooms upstairs. Still evident are the lovely heart-of-pine floors and main entry at the far right front of the house.
In approximately 1890, the owners at the time decided they wanted a grand brick house in the Second Empire style, characterized by a vertical façade and tall, steep roof, together creating an imposing sense of height. Rather than adding onto the back, they built out from the front, constructing a grand parlor, hallway, and staircase leading to a bedroom above—in effect, doubling the home’s size.

The parlor is appointed with antique and custom-made furniture, including a charming, late-18th-century wing chair fitted with a snug slipcover to create the look of upholstery without using nails. Dominating the room are blue and yellow tones, punctuated by elegant, silk window treatments resembling the curtains in the Baltimore Room at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City. Flanking a blue striped sofa, Grandmother’s alabaster lamps light the room. A Chippendale-style, late-18th-century Annapolis chair, “rescued” from a Philadelphia antiques show and returned to its rightful home, sits before a slant-top desk. Above the fireplace hangs an oil painting by the wife of U.S. Naval Academy cadet John Reid, also purchased because of its association with Annapolis.

A side porch adjoining what was once the original kitchen is now a breakfast nook that overlooks the narrow sliver of land between the house and the one next door. The kitchen itself is framed by two classical-style columns. Typical of a townhouse, which has a common wall that runs the entire depth along one side and is totally devoid of windows, the house is nonetheless bathed in light, thanks to a multitude of windows along the opposite wall, a glass door, and skylights above the breakfast nook.

The more recent renovation included updating the kitchen with granite countertops, a stainless-steel, six-burner stove, and cream-colored cabinets, as well as the addition of a den with a working fireplace and, above it, a master bedroom suite. This addition reduced the size of the rear, outdoor garden area, but what remains is an attractive stone patio featuring a lion-ornamented fountain mounted on the perimeter privacy wall.

“I removed the wet bar from the dining room,” explains the current owner (who prefers to remain anonymous). “I wanted to stay with a more traditional look to the room.”

All the radiators were removed during the 2003 renovation work, as well, so a vent system now heats and cools the house. But taking out the radiators created more room for furniture and allowed the then-owners to install several gas fireplaces.

A small but heavily inlaid sideboard and a crystal chandelier serve as focal points in the dining room. In the area between the dining room and front parlor, two Baltimore chairs are on either side of an Annapolis game table, which is attributed to the school of cabinetmaker John Shaw.

While remodeling in 2003, the previous owner set up a woodworking shop in the basement and created many of the carvings on the gas fireplaces that were installed at the time. He even added a mantel in the small upstairs guest room—only for effect, however, because the room has no fireplace.

The mantels, front and back hallways, and various other features added and areas created over the years now provide the present owner with many spaces for displaying fine furniture and antiques. Also left behind were the copper pennies that sit atop the window sills. “A sign of good luck and welcome,” the owner says, “so I’ve kept them.”