House of the Week: Victorian Charm on Water Street

In her book, ”Historic St. Michaels, An Architectural History”, author Elizabeth Hughes documents fourteen  of the houses on Water Street as worthy of mention, including this distinctive house at number 412, the Walter A. Fairbanks House.  This house incorporates many details of the Victorian style such as its asymmetrical “L” shape, the turned post porch columns, fretwork and single -story bay window. Remarkably, the only design changes to the front elevation visible from Water Street are the addition of two dormers on the roof and the replacement of an attic vent with a decorative window. Current day buyers would appreciate the luxury of the two-car garage, a treasured amenity in the Historic District, especially during the summer tourist season.

The floor plan works very well-the entrance hall is between the front sitting room and the family room.  The dining room is connected to the living room making great spaces for relaxing with family or entertaining friends.  The vista from the entrance hall is through the wrap-around windows at the breakfast room to the screened porch and the rear yard. The kitchen, laundry room and pergola covered walkway to the two-car garage completes the ground floor.

The full front deep screened porch with its Victorian fretwork detailing is a great place for relaxing. The wood slat ceiling and wood floors add warmth and charm. I loved the living room with its bay window and furniture grouped around the fireplace. Windows on each side bring additional daylight. The focal point of the family room is the fireplace with millwork on either side for books and family memorabilia. The double circular mirrors echo the abstract art with circular elements. The dining room with another fireplace and its contemporary furnishings and more abstract art continues the interior design scheme. I loved the sleek galley kitchen with its cozy breakfast space surrounded by windows for views to the rear yard. Direct access to the screened porch creates another warm weather living/dining room.

The second floor bedrooms were quite spacious and I think the rear bedroom and  the rear dressing room that connects to one of the bathrooms creates a wonderful suite. The dressing room also has its own stair down to the kitchen area. The attic with its windows on three sides is a blank canvas for myriad uses.

A wonderfully preserved piece of St. Michaels’ architectural history with the best of Victorian details, great updates for today’s lifestyle, wonderful floor plan with appealing vistas, high ceilings with many tall windows for daylight and the bonus of a two-car garage in the heart of the Historic District- how could one resist?

 

For more information about this property, contact Cornelia Heckenbach at Long and Foster Real Estate Inc., 410-745-0283 (o), 410-310-1229 (c) or info@corneliaheckenbach.com, “Equal Housing Opportunity”.

Spy House of the Week is an ongoing series that selects a different home each week. The Spy’s Habitat editor Jennifer Martella makes these selections based exclusively on her experience as a architect.

Jennifer Martella has pursued her dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. Her award winning work has ranged from revitalization projects to a collaboration with the Maya Lin Studio for the Children’s Defense Fund’s corporate retreat in her home state of Tennessee.

House of the Week: Where Michener Slept on Broad Creek

Being a history buff, I especially enjoy writing about houses with an interesting past. The Sellers told me they learned at their closing of their property that it had been christened “Traders’ Point” since traders traveled up Broad Creek to unload their shipments in earlier days.  Its most recent history is even more interesting since the Sellers also learned “Traders Point” had been a rental house and that James Michener stayed there while he was working on his master work “Chesapeake,”required reading for Eastern Shore residents.

On the day I visited, I drove down a gravel road that meandered through the woods with my windows down to enjoy the sounds of nature.  Late afternoon sunlight filtered through the trees and serene vistas changed from water, meadows and woodland around every turn. By the time I arrived at the house, all the day’s stress had dissipated and I was immediately captivated by the property.  I walked around the house and the panoramic views of the shoreline with very little trees to obstruct the water views was a very pleasant surprise.

The one and a half story house, detached large shed and detached garage are located very close to the water, a sought after siting that is no longer possible today with the Critical Area requirements. The Cape Cod Cottage style architecture tied the three buildings together in a very appealing composition. I especially liked the two elevations that faced the water-the side elevation had a center brick chimney flanked by pairs of French doors on each side and an octagonal accent window on the second floor. The long side has a shed roof that extends from the main roof to create an offset bay from the living room to the dining room that breaks up the large open plan and creates a covered porch off the dining room and rooftop deck above.

The entry door opens to a large room defined by the kitchen, sitting and dining areas.  Even though the day was overcast, the rooms had daylight from windows on multiple walls. I especially liked the sitting and dining areas with the color palette of slate blue and cream of the rugs, upholstered furnishings grouped around the fireplace and the accessories.  Older wood distressed finish pieces like the cupboard in the kitchen with a colorful collection of fish and crab ceramic pieces and the storage bench at the door were delightful accents and gave the house great personality.

The rest of the main floor contains a corner bedroom with double windows on two sides and a bath. The stairs to the second floor has built-in shelves with interesting collectables including wood figurines of Tweedledum and Tweedledee and several birdhouses. The second floor has a large bedroom with sloped ceilings, the octagonal accent window and French doors to a rooftop deck. Another bedroom and bath completes the floor plan.

This house works so well for a family with master suites on both floors but also has great potential for modifications.  If one wanted a larger main floor bedroom, the rear wall could be extended with wrap-around windows for a panoramic view of the landscape and water. The shed could become a screened pavilion for warm weather crab feasts or could be finished for all-season use by adding rows of windows that would increase its vistas to the water.  It could even be moved back to conform to Critical Area setbacks and connected to the main house.

Fantastic site, seventeen acres of privacy, two-thousand feet of water frontage on Broad Creek, a charming cottage that could easily be expanded, a large shed that has rough-in electrical and plumbing ready for its transformation, proximity to St. Michaels restaurants-what more does one need?  I’m buying my lottery ticket this week!

 

For more information about this property, contact Cliff Meredith with Meredith Fine Properties at 410-822-6272 (o) 410-924-0082 (c), or mre@goeaston.net, “Equal Housing Opportunity.”

Spy House of the Week is an ongoing series that selects a different home each week. The Spy’s Habitat editor Jennifer Martella makes these selections based exclusively on her experience as a architect.

Jennifer Martella has pursued her dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. Her award winning work has ranged from revitalization projects to a collaboration with the Maya Lin Studio for the Children’s Defense Fund’s corporate retreat in her home state of Tennessee.

Habitat: Atelier 11, the East End of Easton and Adaptive Re-Use

This year, the architecture and interior design firm Atelier 11 celebrates twenty-five years of design excellence in architecture and interior design.  Notable projects include the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy Building Complex, the Talbot Hospice building, the Community Center at Londonderry and Evergreen Cove as well as numerous new residences, seamless addition and renovations.

The ESLC complex was unique for its sustainability and for its being a historic building that now has a new life to house the ESLC offices and other non-profits.  Glass interior walls encourage collaboration and the stained concrete floors and brick walls are preserved elements of the building’s early days. The building’s welcoming form, colors and sunny interior spaces of Talbot Hospice have drawn back many people whose loved ones spent their last days there. Many people return to visit the chapel or stroll the grounds and feel the presence of their loved ones.

The Londonderry Community Center was an opportunity to provide an environment for residents to socialize or to try a new skill including dance, art, crafts, or attend lectures to exercise the “little grey cells” as Agatha Christie’s famous detective, Hercule Poirot, was fond of saying. Evergreen Cove was an opportunity to literally think “outside the box” of a brick rancher.  Atelier 11’s solution opened up the box to nature and is a peaceful setting for yoga and other healing arts.

What many Talbot County residents may not know is the firm has also made a significant contribution to urban design. When they built their office at 11 S. Aurora Street in 2002, the East End needed revitalization to eliminate vacant lots and to renovate the existing housing stock before structures deteriorated to the point that demolition was necessary.  They constructed their building in the middle of a vacant block and opened for business.

Slowly but surely other building owners or investors followed Atelier 11’s pioneering lead and rescued this neighborhood to give it a solid future. After completing their building, Atelier 11 added development to their list of services. They designed and built two new houses on lots near their building to knit the streetscape back together. Now that the Easton Town Council has voted to approve the creation of an Arts and Entertainment District, the availability of tax credits will ensure the East End will continue to thrive.

Their office building is also an example of how good design matters in creating a building that can adapt to changing economic times and uses. When the housing and real estate crash occurred in 2008, firms in Easton had to make painful choices about staff but luckily Atelier 11 retained core staff. They consolidated their office on the second floor and opened a gallery on the first floor.

After five years of having a second office in Lynchburg, VA, to add University work and downtown development projects to their repertoire, the firm converted their Easton building to a live-work space and relocated staff to a studio at the corner of Washington and Dover Streets. Now on the market, 11 S. Aurora St. could be a gallery/living space, a single family residence, or a commercial building. As Principal Architect Lauren jokingly remarked to me, “it is probably the only residence that has a fully compliant ADA bathroom on the first floor.”

On the day I visited, one of the firm’s associates, Tom Batchelor, gave me a tour of the completed construction.  I had always admired the distinctive front door mat created by embedding rounded edged stones into mortar that provides a distinctive way to remove mud from one’s shoes.  The former reception area now becomes a spacious entrance hall with filtered light from both the front French door and sidelights and from the stair landing beyond. The ADA compliant restroom now is a full bath with the renovation of an adjacent storage room for an ADA shower. The former studio space has been transformed and could be an open plan living-dining-kitchen or a studio area . The rear high windows at the South Street side of the building filter sunlight in while maintaining privacy. The former Principals’ two offices are now a bedroom and a den.

As we climbed the stairs to the second floor, we paused at the landing with its dramatic large window overlooking the surrounding neighborhood. I asked Tom how many buildings we could see that had been renovated since Atelier 11’s pioneering building. He told me the firm had actually compiled a map that showed over seventeen buildings which is an amazing statistic.   

The second floor now contains three bedrooms, one of which is a spacious master suite.  The overlook to the first floor has been maintained and also provides light into the hall from the window at the side wall. The master suite has a French door to a terrace with a stair down to the sidewalk along South Street and would be a great space for sunbathing. Opposite the terrace is the “Tower”, a two-story rental unit with living, dining and kitchen on the first floor and a bedroom and bath on the second floor.

Co-Principals  Jon Braithwaite and Lauren Dianich divide their time between offices according to who is the lead on projects.  The next generation of Atelier 11 will continue under the leadership of senior staff of Christian Chute and Tom Batchelor and support staff in both offices.  Happy Anniversary to a talented team of architects and interior designers who have been responsible for some of Talbot County’s best design work, and for the community service that is part of the firm’s mission.  Bravo!

For more information about this property, contact Kelly Showell with Benson & Mangold Real Estate at 410-822-1415 (o), 410-829-5468 (c) or kshowell1958@gmail.com, “Equal Housing Opportunity”.

Jennifer Martella has pursued her dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. Her award winning work has ranged from revitalization projects to a collaboration with the Maya Lin Studio for the Children’s Defense Fund’s corporate retreat in her home state of Tennessee.

 

Spy House of the Week: Serenity on Solitude

For the first time in forty-five years, this twenty-acre property is now for sale. Located between St. Michaels and Easton near Oak Creek Bridge, this unique property has a main house, large barn containing an office, two apartments and a loft entertainment room, Pole Barn and other outbuildings that offer myriad uses from a family compound to a mini-farm. The main house is surrounded by mature trees, landscaped areas, a pond with a bridge and nearby gazebo. The fork of the gravel drive leads to the barns and the other fork becomes a circular drive for the house. The wrap-around porch has a pitched gable to mark the entry flanked by brick steps. On the day visited, loquacious ducks were clearly enjoying a late afternoon swim in the pond. I sat in the gazebo nearby and enjoyed the serene sounds of nature.

I loved the geometry of the original house’s front to rear gable with shorter gables at each side. The wrap-around porch spanned between the two side gable wings to tie the composition together. Subsequent additions altered the original geometry by adding a family room and a ground floor master suite. The beautiful Georgia pine stained hardwood floors, the wood balustrade with its stained newel post and white balusters, window and door moldings are a few of the original details that remain. The exterior wall of the charming dining room is a full bay with long windows and a door to the porch. The second floor contains two other bedrooms and one bath.

The immense open plan loft of the barn is a delightful surprise with its exposed gambrel roof framing, high ceilings, Georgia pine floors and is the perfect space for a family reunion or other celebrations. Two billiard tables still leave plenty of room for the bar and seating ready for entertaining.

It is not unusual for a potential buyer to write a letter to the sellers in the hope their letter would sway the sellers if multiple offers were made. I was quite touched by the remarks of the sellers of this property who wanted to share their love for the property’s space, privacy, convenience and quiet that meant so much to them for almost half a century. Their description of sharing their property with wildlife from birds who daily feasted at several feeders to nocturnal owls to deer and foxes sprinting across the fields to the surrounding woods should entice another family to call this unique property home.

For more information about this property, contact jay Frost at Long and Foster Real Estate Inc., 410-745-0283 (v), 410-310-7623 (c) or jay.frost@lnf.com, “Equal Housing Opportunity”.

Spy House of the Week is an ongoing series that selects a different home each week. The Spy’s Habitat editor Jennifer Martella makes these selections based exclusively on her experience as a architect.

Jennifer Martella has pursued her dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. Her award winning work has ranged from revitalization projects to a collaboration with the Maya Lin Studio for the Children’s Defense Fund’s corporate retreat in her home state of Tennessee.

Spy House of the Week: The Teeny House

When prospective buyers drove up to this property, their two-year old exclaimed with glee “why, it’s a teeny house”! It was love at first sight for all and of course they christened their new home “Teeny House”. The house was a small hunting cottage so the couple hired an architect to create a weekend/summer cottage for them. The architect kept the lodge feeling and created a cottage loaded with charm.  The sloped entry hall that extends from the front door to rear windows overlooking the water connects the two story wing of living room and bedroom with other bedrooms above to the one-story wing of the dining, kitchen and den areas.

The hall is lit by skylights and separates the living room from the dining room. The living room has a wood stove between pairs of double windows with bookcases below. The rear wall facing the water is all glass for maximum views to Caulk Cove through French doors, full glass sidelights and transoms above.  The French doors lead to a porch covered by second floor deck. The wood ceiling is a continuous plane from the living room to the porch ceiling to connect the indoors and outdoors. Accent walls of wood, light from the hall skylights, upholstered furnishings and quirky accent pieces like the twig rocker and vistas to the French doors and windows of the dining room make this a light and cozy space.  

The dining room extends beyond the rear wall of the house so it has windows on three sides and a chamfered ceiling creates a great space for lingering over meals. The French doors to the side patio and the island with bar stools separates the dining area from the spacious kitchen with its white cabinets, quartz counters, tiled backsplash, stainless steel counters and wood floors. Behind the kitchen is a cozy den for watching TV.

The front elevation’s distinctive triangular bay window detail of three stacked ventilated window units on either side of the triangle’s point is the focal point of two bedrooms, one on each floor. The windows are full height and with the double window unit at the side wall brings more light into the spaces. Each bedroom has a closet and a cabinet door above for seasonal storage. One bedroom has soft sage green walls and the other has butter yellow walls with white bed linens and wood furnishings to complete the restful look. My favorite bedroom was the master bedroom at the rear of the house. Pitched ceilings, butter yellow walls, a wall of French doors with full glass sidelights leading to the covered deck and side windows create a serene space.

The 12 acre site includes a the three-car garage has space for a workshop on the ground floor and the upper floor is currently furnished as an open plan guest suite containing sleeping areas, sitting areas and a kitchenette. There are myriad outdoor opportunities to enjoy the water views and sunsets from the covered decks at the living room, master bedroom, deck next to the kitchen with a umbrella covered table and chairs for al fresco dining, stone paved terrace with a glider and two chairs and the stone terrace next to the living room deck with a high top table and chairs.

I can well imagine how delighted that two-year old was when he explored his house for the first time since I fell under the spell of this charming cottage too.  Where else can you relax on a bench and contemplate nature in the company of a giant frog?

 

For more information about this property, contact Tom Crouch with Benson and Mangold Real Estate at 410-745-0720 (o), 410-310-8916 (c) or tcrouch@bensonandmangold.com, “Equal Housing Opportunity”

Spy House of the Week is an ongoing series that selects a different home each week. The Spy’s Habitat editor Jennifer Martella makes these selections based exclusively on her experience as a architect.

Jennifer Martella has pursued her dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. Her award winning work has ranged from revitalization projects to a collaboration with the Maya Lin Studio for the Children’s Defense Fund’s corporate retreat in her home state of Tennessee.

 

Habitat: The Garden Sculptures of Jan Kirsh

Last winter when gardens were dormant, I featured the colorful garden sculptures of landscape designer Jan Kirsh.  Since 2009, her fruit and vegetable collection has grown to include artichokes, asparagus, carrots, eggplants, figs, pears and peppers that have enlivened the gardens of many Eastern Shore residences and galleries. This month she unveiled her new 36” tall pineapple sculpture and has already installed two of them on top of brick posts that flank the entrance gates of a fabulous vegetable garden south of Annapolis. The pineapple has long been regarded as the symbol of hospitality and Jan’s creative and whimsical interpretation with lime green foliage, undulating texture and bold tropical colors make her pineapple design a distinctive addition to her collection.

Jan moved to the Eastern Shore in 1978 and quickly made a name for herself as a talented landscape designer. As her garden design practice flourished and evolved, she found that her clients often requested that she  help them site existing sculpture and/or art objects in their gardens as part of her landscape design effort.

That facet of her work was fun and challenging and inspired her to return to her sculptural roots and to create fruit and vegetable pieces that could be incorporated into the gardens she designed. The best of both worlds for Jan is to design and then build a garden that includes a custom piece of her sculpture especially suited for the location.

Not one to rest on her laurels, Jan also has designed a line of 3-D printed jewelry including the popular halved fig in bronze and steel with Swarovski crystals that  add significant sparkle. Jan will soon launch an e-store where fans can purchase the jewelry, fruit and vegetable sculptures or commission a custom piece.

After seeing Jan’s luscious pineapple, I was reminded of the duet from “Cabaret” about another pineapple that was a gift from a suitor to his lady love:

“If you brought me diamonds,

If you brought me pearls,  

If you brought me roses like some other gents

Might bring to other girls-

It wouldn’t please me more

Than the gift I see

A pineapple for me…:

Whether you are seeking a pineapple for your garden or a gift for the gardener in your life, what better way to perk up your garden this spring with the exotic and colorful pineapple?

A portfolio of her landscape work can be seen at her website www.jankirshstudio.com or contact her at 410-745-5252 (o),410-310-1198 (c) or email at.jankirshstudio@gmail.com. “It Couldn’t Please Me More”, from the musical ‘Cabaret’, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb.

Spy House of the Week is an ongoing series that selects a different home each week. The Spy’s Habitat editor Jennifer Martella makes these selections based exclusively on her experience as a architect.

Jennifer Martella has pursued her dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. Her award winning work has ranged from revitalization projects to a collaboration with the Maya Lin Studio for the Children’s Defense Fund’s corporate retreat in her home state of Tennessee.

Spy House of the Week: Bozman Beauty

As I drove down the long driveway lined with trees, the vista to the front door of the house expanded more and more to reveal a traditional styled house with light yellow siding and a wood shake roof.  The historic one-room deep house had a center full story and a half original wing marked by two original chimneys on each end next to lower side wings. Later additions were designed to enhance the original footprint. The addition at the front created a master suite and steps back to respect the original house’s massing. I absolutely loved how the rear elevation additions artfully transformed the original house with its array of wide shed dormers, window dormers, porch and screened porch, making this elevation almost totally transparent for views to the water.

The front door opens onto a foyer opposite the stairs and cross vistas on one side through the dining room, kitchen and mud room/laundry and on the other side, through the living room, library and master suite. Part of the living room, entrance hall, and dining room opened onto the new spacious family room with its dramatic interior architecture created by windows and French doors on three sides, two dormer windows opposite each other and a double unit window high above the shed roof of the covered waterside porch. Another small addition connects to the new family room and creates a spacious informal dining area to the rear of the kitchen with wrap-around windows for water views.

The ground floor master bedroom has chamfered ceilings and a sitting area in a box bay wrapped in windows for panoramic water views.  The suite also contains two bathrooms, a mini-bar and a French door to a private terrace. On the second floor, two other bedroom suites are separated by the two-story stairwell.  I loved the interior architecture of these spaces-one bedroom had two dormer windows opposite each other connected to another sleeping area with a row of low windows under shed dormers that became headboards for the beds.  

Even though it was late afternoon on the day when I visited the house, the quality of light that filtered inside from so many windows and doors gave the interiors a light and airy feel.  Every room had awareness of the water in some way. Peaceful setting on Harris Creek, great floor plan and flow, wonderful additions that update the house for today’s lifestyle, pool and guest house with living room, kitchen, two bedrooms and bath, close to St. Michaels’ attractions-quite a list and too hard to resist!

For more information about this property, contact Cornelia Heckenbach at Long and Foster Real Estate Inc., 410-745-0283 (v), 410-310-1229 (c) or info@corneliaheckenbach.com, “Equal Housing Opportunity”.

Spy House of the Week is an ongoing series that selects a different home each week. The Spy’s Habitat editor Jennifer Martella makes these selections based exclusively on her experience as a architect.

Jennifer Martella has pursued her dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. Her award winning work has ranged from revitalization projects to a collaboration with the Maya Lin Studio for the Children’s Defense Fund’s corporate retreat in her home state of Tennessee.

 

Spy House of the Week: Mansfield House

The Charles H. Mansfield house, circa 1875, is a classic two-story side entry-parlor Victorian that is one of the most popular styles found throughout St. Michaels’ Historic District. In the late 90’s, the original rear wing was expanded and an addition built along the Chew St side. The addition is connected by a one-story hyphen and the end wing has a gable facing the street to break down the massing and to minimize its impact on the original historic structure. The other side of the addition faces the side yard that is surrounded by a privacy fence. This house is a landmark during the holiday season and I enjoy driving past the huge holly tree at the corner of the house that is illuminated by strings of colorful lights.

The Mansfields would recognize many period details that have been carefully maintained such as the turn doorbell at the side door, the ornamental escutcheon plates on the original doors, the high ceilings, built-ins, beautiful hardwood floors, stairs with winders, interior transoms above doorways and stained glass accents.  The full front porch with its fretwork on each side of turned columns and decorative railing has also been preserved to maintain the historic streetscape. The porch has maximum seating space since the entry door is at the side, offering front row seats to all the holiday parades throughout the year.

Most of the rooms have large windows on at least two sides for daylight throughout the day and even on the overcast day when I visited, the rooms were bright. The house flows well from the front living room to the dining room, kitchen and sunroom. The sunroom and the rear spacious master suite are part of the addition and overlook the private enclosed outdoor room containing hardscape and planting beds. The master suite’s high pitched ceilings add character to the space and stained glass panels allow light to filter in while maintaining privacy. The addition also enlarged the dining room with its original fireplace and a large pantry. I could well imagine having cocktails on the terrace and then moving into the spacious dining room that could seat ten to twelve for  dinner.

The second floor layout creates private suites separated by the stairs. The two front rooms could be a bedroom and sitting room or the smaller of the front rooms could be a nursery or study.  The rear suite is a spacious second master with generous closet space and a dressing area.

A historic house with modern amenities, additions that greatly increased the livable area, private outdoor space and across the street from Gina’s Restaurant and the Mill shops-great property!

For more information about this property, contact Kate Koeppen with Chesapeake Bay Real Estate Plus, LLC,  at 410-745-6702 (o), 410-829-0705 (c) or katekoeppen@lovsmre.com, “Equal Housing Opportunity”.

Spy House of the Week is an ongoing series that selects a different home each week. The Spy’s Habitat editor Jennifer Martella makes these selections based exclusively on her experience as a architect.

Jennifer Martella has pursued her dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. Her award winning work has ranged from revitalization projects to a collaboration with the Maya Lin Studio for the Children’s Defense Fund’s corporate retreat in her home state of Tennessee.

 

Habitat: Spring Fever at Unity

Unity Nursery is the destination for all things relating to landscape and gardens. The countdown to the Spring Equinox is over and the Nursery kicked off its spring season with their annual open house on March 23rd. The eye-catching giant “Big Rooster” near the entrance drive was soon a popular spot for selfies. As attendees strolled through the site, they discovered several new changes. Retail sales is now back at the Roadside Kiosk where a display of seed packets will soon be joined by items from the Nursery and fresh produce, vegetable and herb plants grown on site under the watchful eye of Farm Manager Teresa Mycek.

The area between the Kiosk and highway 213 will soon be enhanced by gardens to inspire the home gardening enthusiast. Benches will be strategically placed for rest or contemplation of sculpture and other garden art. On the other side of the Kiosk and beyond the bridge over the spring below is now a row of stacked planters and urns of many sizes and styles that are separated in groups of color for ease of selection.

The five greenhouses are ready for this year and in one greenhouse, seedlings were poking through their containers in anticipation of being planted in the ground. Brussel Sprouts were still sprouting and the garlic continue to grow. One of the previous owners of the property was a landscape architect and he planted many specimen trees that are now mature. Overlooking the vegetable garden is one of these trees, the “Ben Franklinia” tree, which is thought to extinct in the wild.

The main building is now dedicated to services relating to Unity Nursery’s sister business, Unity Landscape Design/Build. The showroom features work of local artisans, outdoor furniture and art. Around the walls are displays that illustrate products such as low voltage lighting, irrigation and hardscape products along with photographs of completed landscape projects. The day I visited, I was immediately captivated by a stunning handcrafted dining table by artisan Vicco von Voss. The table’s free form and mix of black walnut, maple burl, ebony and holly was hard to miss. Unity is also the exclusive representative of a line of teak furnishings by Three Birds Casual. Pieces on display include a rocking chair, side table, dining table and chairs whose stylish design would complement any screened porch or pool terrace. I liked the slightly flared top of the chair back that would make it quite comfortable for reading by the pool or dining al-fresco.

The education and credentials of the Unity team is quite impressive. Unity Landscape Design/Build’s president, Michael Jensen, attended the College at West Chester University for Architecture/Urban Planning where he grew to appreciate the symbiotic relationship between architecture, landscape and the environment. He transferred to the landscape architecture/horticulture program at Temple University in Philadelphia and returned to the Eastern Shore to found Unity Landscape Design/Build in 1992. He fulfilled a need for landscape design, installation and maintenance services to help homeowners in the Chesapeake Bay watershed fulfill their design goals and comply with Critical Areas restrictions to protect the Chesapeake Bay water quality.

The Unity Design/Build team’s Field Operations Manager, Cliff Westman and Environmental Designer, Lucas Lees, recently completed the Certified Chesapeake Bay Landscape Professional (CBLP) workshop and received their certifications. This is a voluntary credential program for professionals who design, install and maintain sustainable landscapes.

Sustainability is key to the mission of Unity which is to serve as an “inspiration center offering services and on native plants and natural solutions”. Design is guided by principles of geometry from ancient Greece such as the Golden Ratio, which is a mathematical ratio commonly found in nature. The Greeks believed that the use of the Golden Ratio created beauty defined by symmetry, proportion and harmony. The result is organic, natural looking and aesthetic compositions.

To make your landscape harmonious, visit Unity Nursery to become inspired by the range of high quality plants, perennials, shrubbery, trees, native and seasonal plants of all sizes that would enhance your home and its outdoor environment. Unity Design/Build’s staff can work with you to create a plan that meets your budget. Then they obtain the permits, install the landscape and hardscape and provide maintenance.

Upcoming events include the popular “Beyond the Backyard” Series of Workshops every Saturday in April beginning at 9:00 am to inform and inspire participants to “think beyond the backyard”. Check their website for workshop topics.

Unity Church Hill Nursery is located at 3621 Church Hill Rd. For more information, call 410-556-6010 or visit their website www.unitychurchillnursery.com. The Nursery is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 to 5:00, Saturday from 8:00 to 4:00 and is closed on Sunday.

 

Spy House of the Week: Modernism by a Master

McInturff Architects is based in Bethesda, MD, and the firm’s principal, Mark McInturff, FAIA , has designed many houses on the Eastern Shore including his own second home in Neavitt. The owners of today’s featured house had searched for several years for the right property on the Eastern Shore that would be a weekend home until they moved here full time. Their primary criterion was a waterfront site that maximized the naturally cooling breezes off the Bay. After several years of searching, they found a unique seven acre property with an existing house very close to the shoreline with panoramic water views on three sides. The existing house had too much deterioration and fire damage to justify renovation so the owners turned to McInturff to design a new home.

The main wing of the new house fits precisely over the former house’s foundation and contains the living, dining, kitchen, and den along the water side with the stairs and service areas at the entry side. A new secondary wing containing a guest suite, office and storage is perpendicular to the main wing and set back to maintain unobstructed water views from the main wing’s living areas. Connections flow seamlessly between indoors and outdoors with the wide hall that separates the waterside areas from the front entry areas. One end of the hall blends into a screened porch open on three sides of the house that is the perfect spot for a crab feast. The other end of the hall ends at a secondary entry to the wrap-around waterside deck that separates the guest suite/office wing from the main wing. The detached garage/pool house wing is connected to the main house by deep eave overhangs that slide under the secondary wing’s higher eaves to create a covered walkway.

The geometry of the house is a masterful study in massing, solid/void interaction and transparency. The materials of glass, stacked stone and lap siding in earth tone colors become part of the wooded landscape and the slender edges of the deep roof eaves accentuate the horizontal planes. The deep eaves offer another benefit-windows can remain open to catch the Bay breezes without relying upon air conditioning. Vertical projections from the front wall frame the living-dining area’s two-story wall of glass beyond. Full height glass walls, standard windows that wrap around corners of rooms, high windows that turn down along the edges of solid wall planes, the zinc-clad roof clerestories and the openness of the “Crab Room” enables the house to come alive at twilight when illuminated from within.

Like the historic Eastern Shore houses, the two-story main wing telescopes down to the one-story guest suite on one side and the one-story “Crab Room” on the other side.

The rear deck at the second floor covers the deck area below next to the  living/dining area. The glass wall panels at the rear of the living-dining area can fold and disappear making the space completely transparent, increasing the floor space by 30%. In addition, motorized screened panels at the rear edge of the deck drop down to enclose the covered deck creating a variety of transparency options from total transparency to closed house/closed porch.

The crisp detailing of the interior with its lack of trim around the windows and doors was refreshing and the stained window frames contrasted with the surrounding white walls. I loved how the roof clerestories penetrated the rooms below for a variety of ceiling planes and distinctive interior architecture. The detailing of the “U” shaped stair enclosure was equally impressive. A long narrow slit in the stacked stone exterior wall aligned with the vertical slit in the center drywall handrail between the lower and upper run of treads. A small round handrail floated over the top of the drywall handrail and was anchored to it by short brackets. On the lower run of treads that were suspended above the floor, a full-height stained wood screen instead of a handrail enables light to filter through the stairs to the adjacent kitchen. Treads without overhangs and the flush stringer edge delineated by a black trim piece completed the crisp design.

I was very fortunate to have a tour with one of the Owners and to my surprise the tour began in the basement but I soon learned why. He was deservedly proud of the sustainability and sophisticated technological features of the house and site including geothermal wells that provide heating through radiant floors. The biggest surprise was beyond double doors where eleven huge cisterns taller than my 5-8” height store water collected from the roofs which eliminates any concern about storm water management. The water is then released onto the site for irrigation when needed.

This Dream Team of clients with sophisticated taste and vision, a master architect and a contractor’s precise workmanship worked together to create this Modernist masterpiece.

 

Architecture by McInturff Architects, 301-229-3705, www.mcinturffarchitects.com. Design Team: Mark McInturff FAIA, Christopher Boyd and Jeff McInturff.
Photography by Mark McInturff and Julia Heine Construction by Think Make Build LLC, 202-798-5000, www.thinkmakebuild.com.

Spy House of the Week is an ongoing series that selects a different home each week. The Spy’s Habitat editor Jennifer Martella makes these selections based exclusively on her experience as a architect.

Jennifer Martella has pursued her dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. Her award winning work has ranged from revitalization projects to a collaboration with the Maya Lin Studio for the Children’s Defense Fund’s corporate retreat in her home state of Tennessee.

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