A New Chapter in Annapolis: Historic charmer in downtown proves perfect for a couple from Pittsburgh
Dec 08, 2015 09:00AM ● Published by Cate Reynolds
As so many do, Bill and Maggie Donley spent many a summer weekend cruising the Chesapeake Bay. So when the Pittsburgh couple decided to take early retirement, moving closer to the area where they could more readily enjoy their favorite pastime seemed like a natural next step for this new chapter in their lives. Now the couple is relishing their new lifestyle and their new home in Annapolis’ Historic District.
“Julie Shepard, our real estate agent [with the Creig Northrop Team of Long & Foster Real Estate in Annapolis], listened to what we wanted and was proactive in finding us this historic house that is in immaculate condition,” the Donleys say. “The location is perfect for us to walk downtown—and we love the fact that we have off-street parking!”
The Donleys are no strangers to the charms of older homes, having lived in a 1920s-era Victorian in Pittsburgh, so they welcomed the opportunity to purchase one of Annapolis’ older residences, with its 4,854 square feet and 14 rooms that provide plenty of space for visiting offspring and grandchildren. Not to mention the fact that the house had already been updated, complete with a renovated kitchen, addition to the back of the house, and restoration of the front porch that had at some point in the home’s history been taken off.
“The house had been so well-maintained that we didn’t have to do anything,” the couple says. That not only includes renovating, but redecorating as well—the Donleys loved the interiors so much that they bought the house completely furnished.
Inside the home, polished hardwood floors, moldings, brick fireplaces, William Morris-style wallpaper, Oriental rugs, serene shades of peach, blue, gray, and white, and traditional furnishings and artwork complement more modern elements such as granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, and a multitude of windows that let light stream in throughout the house.
In purchasing the home, which sits on almost a quarter-acre lot, the Donleys are continuing the history of the property, which, according to available records, was a gift to one Susan Richardson from her father, Aaron Jones. In 1876, her four children divided the property among themselves, with the lot that the Donleys’ house sits on going to one Richard A. Richardson.
The lot was sold several times over the next decade, with assessment records showing a three-story frame house with porch on the site in 1908. Through the years, the house has been a private residence (at one time lived in by five-time Annapolis Mayor and State Senator James F. Strange) and a rental property with as many as five apartments, with tenants including widows, students, and individuals affiliated with the Naval Academy.
In 1993, the home was sold to Brian and Valerie Miller, who undertook a restoration that, in 2013, earned it recognition by Historic Annapolis for its “architectural value and integrity and historical significance to the city, state, or nation...”
The Donleys are pleased to be able to carry on the legacy of their new home and are settling into their new life in Annapolis.
“We love the brick sidewalks, the big trees, the garden in our backyard, and hearing the children play [at nearby St. Mary’s],” they say. “And our new friends and neighbors are the nicest of people. We’re so grateful to have found exactly what we wanted.”