Spy House of the Week: Ashby on the Miles

The architecture of Ashby, circa 1855, is dominated by the beautifully detailed Classical two-story front porch supported by Doric columns resting on a brick foundation with full width steps to the lawn below. The front gable over the porch includes a decorative window set into the pediment. The approach to the estate ends with a very pleasing vista of the white color palette of the main house set against colorful mature landscaping and green expanse of lawn. A perfect backdrop for a Plein Air painter.

The spacious entrance hall had a “U” shaped stair and wide doorways led to the main rooms on either side and to the family room at the rear of the house. Sitting rooms with fireplaces, one with a bay window, a formal dining room, period moldings and fireplace surrounds all evoked an era of gracious living.

The family room had a fireplace and a wall full of French doors with Palladian transoms for views to the pool, the landscape and the Miles River beyond. The same window arrangement was repeated on the master bedroom above and wrapped around the seating area at the rear of the suite. My favorite room was the second- floor screened porch complete with a swing for relaxing summer afternoons suspended above the landscape below.

The grounds of this magnificent property included a large swimming pool, raised bed gardens, tennis court, a three-car garage with a one-bedroom guest apartment, a two-bedroom guest cottage and a deep water dock.

For more information about this property, contact Meredith Fine Properties agents Cliff Meredith at 410-822-6272 (o), 410-924-9982 (c), mre@goeaston.net, or Amy Berry at 410-822-2001 (o), 410-310-0441 (c) or amy@talbotfinehomes.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: Historic North Bend

North Bend was built in the mid-nineteenth century by James Dixon and his wife, Mary Ann Bartlett. A historic marker erected on the property by the Lords of the Maryland Manors references the “Manor of Tilghman’s Fortune”, 1000 Acres” that was granted to Captain Samuel Tilghman of London by Lord Baltimore in 1659. The acreage was later subdivided into several estates which included the site of North Bend.

Located on a protected point of land on Grocely’s Cove off the Miles River, North Bend is a blend of Federal and Italianate styles. The massing is unusual with three distinct wings each three- stories high and two three-bay porches, one defining the main entrance and the other on the east façade, that are two-stories high with Ionic columns supporting low sloped roofs. Exterior details like the widow’s walk, low sloped metal hipped roofs and a turret at the northeast corner of the house give this house a unique architectural style. Later additions to the original house were made at the rear as the aerial view at the water side shows but the front elevation maintained its original architecture as the historic photograph illustrates.

The interiors reflected the Owners’ eclectic collection of antiques. Interior period details include crown moldings, doorway moldings and a graceful curved stair. My favorite rooms were in the turret on both floors. The main floor turret area with built-in seating below a circle of windows would be a wonderful spot to curl up with a book from the adjacent library. The library had a wonderful collection of glassware and I recognized and coveted several pieces of Murano glass. The second-floor turret area was an alcove off one of the bedrooms that created a cozy seating area

The house has nine bedrooms and six baths which could be a challenge for many buyers. As an architect, I wondered if the house could be rezoned. Since there are front entry doors on both wings of the main floor, making the house a duplex could be an intriguing option without impacting the original front elevation.

For more information about this property, contact Julie Ann Stevenson with Stevenson & Co., Long & Foster Real Estate/Christie’s at 410-745-0283 (o), 410-251-5291(c) or julie.stevenson@longandfoster.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 Book Review: A Place of Houses by Charles Moore

The seminal book of my architectural education was “A Place of Houses” by Charles Moore, with his partners Gerald Allen and Donlyn Lyndon. The firm’s fourth partner, William Turnbull, drew the beautiful axonometric drawings of houses in the book, ranging from the historical Tidewater house, Stratford Hall, in Virginia to many of the houses that MTLW designed throughout their careers. Their book was published the year before I graduated from architectural school and profoundly influenced my thinking about residential design throughout my career to this day. It is written for anyone who is contemplating building a new house or remodeling an existing one.

The authors set the scene by writing about three towns they believed showed how individual houses grouped together can bestow a unique sense of place on an entire community; Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard, Santa Barbara, CA and Sea Ranch in northern CA. Edgartown’s three centuries of New England architecture, Santa Barbara’s decision to rebuild in the Spanish Colonial style after the devastating 1925 earthquake and the new architecture of Sea Ranch were all unique places.

I was fascinated by the first pictures I saw of the Sea Ranch condominiums. The stunning black and white photography made the simple geometric house forms seem to rise naturally from the rocky cliffs along that part of a barren stretch of Pacific coastline and to resemble rock formations themselves.

Climate and topography have always influenced the form of houses. Houses here in Maryland evolved to primarily deal with the hot summers. Unlike New England houses where the fireplace was centered to conserve heat for the surrounding rooms, Tidewater houses located the fireplace on the exterior wall, with rooms along a double sided central corridor through the middle with doors at each end to catch the breezes. In other parts of the country, a preferred way for arranging rooms evolved from the New England boxes to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie houses such as the Willitts House in Highland Park, where he removed walls between rooms and extended wings in four directions to spread across the flat site.

The authors believed there were three factors to be considered in designing a house, and they christened them “The Order of Rooms”, “The Order of Machines” and “The Order of Dreams”.


They describe rooms in their simplest forms as a space with a floor, walls and a ceiling. Space is brought to life by its dimensions of length, width, and height and is animated by light. Variations in the height of a room alters the feeling of the room- my old farmhouse has 7’-4” ceiling heights and whenever I visit homes with heights of nine feet or greater I keenly feel the striking spatial change.

The authors felt the opposite factors of movement and repose are important characteristics of a room. A single focus like a fireplace inglenook, a bay window, etc., becomes the center of interest and invites repose. The authors also believed “focus” organizes the interiors of rooms and “outlook” occurs through windows, which can bridge between near and far views.

The authors divide machines into two groups, self-operating like HVAC units or small machines that we operate directly, like a washer or dryer. These machines require spaces and must be considered in the design of a house. They also consider stairs to be “machines” since they assist us in vertically moving between floors. One of the most beautiful stairs I have ever seen is one illustrated in the book, the central hall in the Nathaniel Russell House in Charleston, SC, with its sinuous stair that connects three floors in a graceful spiral.

My favorite order was the last, the order of dreams. Around the middle of the 19th century, American domestic architecture changed with the popularity of Pattern Books. Instead of the sole New England Colonial style, these books offered an international range of styles from Greek Revival, Gothic, Queen Anne, Tudor, Swiss Chalets, etc. Now homeowners could select a house style to match their dreams.

The order of dreams encourages you to imagine your house fulfilling your memories and daydreams so you can create special places for them to be nurtured. One of the author’s examples of how dreams inspired an iconic house is Fallingwater. The family would picnic opposite the waterfall and dream of their house with that view. In a master stroke of genius Frank Lloyd Wright placed the house over the falls instead and the everyday became extraordinary.

Think about the places you have seen or read about that linger in your memory. For me, a few of them are a glimpse of a garden with a trickling fountain through a gate in Charleston, SC, the two-story library at Biltmore House with its massive fireplace, terraces where Fred and Ginger danced, and the screened porch at the Buckhorn Inn in the Great Smoky Mountains of my home state of Tennessee.

Collections and other memorabilia give clues about the things that matter most to us and need an important place in our homes. I collect pitchers and Oaxacan wood carvings of animals in colorful patterns. I also love genealogy. Along my stairwell are five generations of my family on my mother’s side back to one Antonio DePrato of Barga, Italy. I see my great- grandfather Mac in my brother’s face and I like to think my love of roses “stems” from my great-grandmother Rose.

The authors end the book with a series of thoughtful questions to encourage one to contemplate how their answers will tell them what they want their house to be. I used their list as a base to compose my questions for clients to create a ‘building program’ to guide the design. I have made many changes over the years but the core list remains a thoughtful guide.


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: Craftsman Perfection

I simply can’t resist Craftsman styled houses since two of the houses I have called home have been that style of architecture. The dramatic view from the water of this magnificent house immediately caught my eye. Multiple gables, bay windows, first-floor porches and screened porches that meandered around the angled footprint of the house and second floor decks – all created great architecture. The house is nestled in the trees along its shoreline of Tarr Creek and waterside mature trees provide shade but allow views to the water, especially from most rooms on the main level and clear vistas from areas of the second floor.

The tree-lined drive offered glimpses of the center wing of the house as you passed by the separate guest house and garage to arrive at the main house.  The symmetrical front elevation is enhanced by a wrap-around porch and the angled wings created very pleasing massing. The front door opens to an entrance hall with the “L” shaped stair to the second floor and French doors on the opposite side leading to a sitting room.  The stairs led to a gracious second floor landing with a wall of books and another wall for family photographs.

Several sitting rooms on the main floor offer many different areas for relaxation and all have fireplaces. The waterside family room at the end of the entrance hall, a den near the ground floor master suite, the cozy sitting area that is part of the open plan kitchen and informal dining area that also leads to the sunroom/screened porch are wonderful spaces. Some of the walls are accented with wainscot and trim for a paneled effect and the large family room has built-ins and coffered ceilings for great interior architecture.

I loved the gourmet kitchen and how the angled cabinets paralleled the house’s footprint and had vistas through the sitting and dining areas to water views. The second floor had another sitting area and a billiards room for more relaxation options for the four en-suite bedrooms. The second-floor decks would be hard to resist for enjoying the “bird’s eye” views of the landscape and water.  A stunning property in sought after Royal Oak!

 

For more information about this property, contact Laura Carney with Benson and Mangold Real Estate at 410-745-0415 (o), 410-310-3307 (c) or laurahcarney@gmail.com, “Equal Housing Opportunity”

Architecture by Christine Dayton, Christine M. Dayton Architect, PA, 410-822-3130 or chris@cdaytonarchitect.comConstruction by Steve Spurry, Spurry Builder Inc, 410-745-2259

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: Forbes Says Easton is One of Five Best Places for Vacation Home

Talbot County has once again made it onto a Forbes list. This time around, they are calling Easton one of the top five places to have a vacation home.

The reasons they cite include, “crazy low property taxes, year round culture, a farm-to-table foodie scene that gets better every year, water everywhere, and a level of celebrity discretion that’s on par with the Hamptons.”

For the full story please go here.

Spy House of the Week: Victorian Charmer

Chestnut Street is one of my favorite streets in St. Michaels’ Historic District for its range of architectural styles such as this charming Victorian. There are also inviting water vistas- E. Chestnut ends at St. Michaels harbor and W. Chestnut, where this house is located, ends at San Domingo Creek. Lots on this side of W. Chestnut Street have rear property lines at Thompson Street so deep lots with access to two parking spaces off Thompson Street is a big plus.

I loved the symmetry of the front elevation with the center gable and the decorative attic window with the full front porch supported by turned columns with lacy brackets. The green shutters added color to the façade and the brick sidewalk with planting beds completed the curb appeal. The center door created two cozy seating groups for visiting with family and neighbors.

The front door opened up to the stairwell with an open handrail to the living room. The focal point of the room was a fireplace flanked with full height millwork. Antique furnishings and beautiful hardwood floors created a gracious sitting room.

The dining room at the rear of the house with a window wall and French doors led to a brick terrace shaded by a pergola for al-fresco dining. I could imagine being a dinner guest and enjoying cocktails under the terrace pergola and lingering over dinner and enjoying views of the rear garden. The spacious galley kitchen had a wall opening open to the dining room and views to the side garden and was connected to my favorite room, the family room. The stepped brick chimney for the fireplace was a unique detail and the room’s comfortable upholstered furnishings arranged around the TV and fireplace and proximity to the front porch was a great spot for relaxation.

The main floor also contained a bedroom and bath for guests who love its cozy size. The master suite on the second floor with its light palette and crisp white bed linen was a restful retreat.
I love urban gardens and this fenced garden had areas for shade and an English cutting garden that was obviously a labor of love for the owner.

For more information about this property, please contact Elizabeth Foulds at Long & Foster Real Estate at 410-745-0283 (o), 410-924-1959 (c), or foulds@longandfoster.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: Golden Chestnut

This property has it all-a site on a premier point of land along the shoreline of St. Michaels harbor, a combination of an original house, circa 1800, with an addition that telescopes down to complement the original house and a renovation that carefully preserved the original details and design features.

The aerial view shows how the house reaches out to its waterfront with a rear elevation with large windows and a brick patio, screened porch and second floor deck that are wonderful outdoor rooms to enjoy the harbor views. The close proximity to the water can’t be built today given the current Critical Area standards. Multiple boat slips, one of which can accommodate a 70-foot yacht, await guests who wish to arrive in style.

The interiors of the rooms were as stunning as the site and the exterior traditional architecture. The front door opens to an entry hall that is dominated by a large maritime painting above an antique settee resting on beautiful wide plank hardwood floors. Arched openings led to the dining room whose focal point was a brick fireplace centered on an antique table surrounded by upholstered chairs.

The sitting rooms were located at the rear of the house and flooded with light from French doors and tall windows for harbor views. One could easily sink into the comfortable furnishings and enjoy privacy from the street and the ever- changing harbor activity.

I loved the kitchen with its warm palette of light woods and tile floor and the blend of the older island cabinetry contrasted with the newer cabinets. The pitched ceiling was broken by two exposed wood beams that created space above the upper wall cabinets for the owners collection of ceramics.

My favorite room was the screened porch with its stained wood framing and wide screened panels for unobstructed views of the harbor. A rug with a bold geometric border anchored the comfortable seating group and close by outside were a hammock and a Lutyens bench for more relaxation options.

The stair landing led to an alcove lined with bookshelves and seating for a cozy reading nook. The master bedroom suite had a flat ceiling that defines the sitting and dressing area and a pitched ceiling that defined the sleeping area. Two high accent windows over the bed and a dormer window provided daylight and views to the harbor and created a restful retreat.

Privacy on a quiet dead-end street in the heart of St. Michaels’ Historic District, a stunning site and magnificent architectural style- how could one resist?

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

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: Lynnhaven

The dictionary defines “haven” as a “port”, a safe place”and a place offering favorable conditions. “Lynnhaven” is aptly named for its private, gated location minutes from the much sought after Oxford corridor, SW exposure, 6 ft. MLW off the Tred Avon river and to this aspiring oenophile, its wine cellar!

I was immediately captivated by the entrance hall, with its polished granite floor, curved stair and rounded landing above. Works of art were hung on the wall at eye level above several stair steps. Clearly this would be the harbinger of a beautifully appointed house. I loved the serene neutral palette of the interior design accented by rugs, pillows, accessories and decorative porcelain in the living room, library, dining room and sunroom. Beautiful hardwood floors and four fireplaces added extra warmth. The sunroom windows were on a direct axis to the pergola at the end of the pool to frame the vista.

The front and rear elevations were very different. The front was a classic traditional central gable wing with an ocular accent window and two-story columns flanked on each side by secondary wings. In contrast, the rear elevation opened to the water with walls of windows, gables, second floor decks and dormers to maximize the water views. The solar roofing panels were unobtrusive since the roofing shingles below were a dark color.

The pristine kitchen with its warm wood cabinetry was connected to an elegant informal dining area with an antique hutch and cabinet to accompany the round table and Regency chairs. I loved the family room with its stone floor, painted wood-slat ceiling, millwork filled with books flanking a fireplace, comfortable furnishings and a large-screen TV. The perfect spot for relaxation after a dip in the nearby pool.

Since the house had an elevator, the master suite could remain on the second floor for more expansive water views from its private deck. I also liked one of the guest rooms that had another private deck. The graceful arc of the iron headboard and the warm wood chests and dresser would make any guest linger; however, the guest room tucked under a “canopy” of exposed collar beams painted white to blend with ceiling would be my choice of accommodation. Dormer windows with bookcases built into the eaves created charming interior architecture.

For more information about this property, please contact Cornelia Heckenbach at 410-745-0283 (o), 410-310-1229 (c), or info@ corneliaheckenbach.com, “Equal Opportunity Employer”.

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 “Snuggery”

By a funny coincidence, the House of the Week I chose for Chestertown last week had a cozy sitting room with a fireplace that the owners had dubbed the “Snuggery”. St. Michaels own Snuggery house began its life as the Robert Dodson House, circa 1798. The log house was built by Dodson on a site facing St. Michaels harbor. In 1870 Henry Clay Dodson relocated the log structure to Cherry Street, where it remains today. He remodeled the house in the Victorian style and expanded the original log restructure to its present form. The front part of the house holds the distinction of being the only early log structure remaining in St. Michaels. The original milk house at the rear of the property has also been renovated for myriad uses.

The charming cottage style architecture has many double windows to brighten the interior rooms. The 1870 renovation left portions of the original log walls exposed in the front parlor, the dining room and the ground floor bedroom which gives the rooms great architectural character. The two front parlors have angled corner fireplaces with original decorative surrounds. A wide cased opening connects the two rooms for better flow and the cross vistas through the wall opening are of double windows on each side of the house for an open feeling. The dining room between one parlor and the kitchen would be a cozy spot for breakfast.

The Snuggery is currently a B&B with a main floor guest suite. The second floor contains other charming guest rooms tucked under the roof eaves with exposed cross bracing beams under the drywall ceiling. I especially liked the Owners’ sitting room on the main floor with its wide bay window framing views to the back yard and the fireplace for cozy winter evenings. The Owners’ bedroom was located on the second floor and spanned the width of the house which created areas for sleeping and an office area with double windows at each side of the space.

Many fans of the Snuggery would be quite disappointed if the new Owners decided to convert this charming cottage back to a single-family residence but it could easily be done. Whatever happens it remains a delightful part of St. Michaels’ history.

For more information about this property, please contact Elizabeth Foulds at Long and Foster Real Estate at 410-745-0345 (o), 410-924-1959 ©, or foulds@lomgadfoster.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: “Into the Woods”

When I first saw this property that caught my eye, the waterfront wooded setting and how the house massing of shed and gable roofs blended “into the woods”, to borrow the title of a Sondheim musical. The crisp forms evoked New England salt boxes but the interiors were a delightful contemporary surprise. I loved the open living-dining room with the wood joists and decking floating over hardwood flooring the same warm light color as the ceiling. The eclectic mix of modern, antique and Scandinavian furniture reminded me of a visit to a Danish friend many years ago, complete with the bold contemporary art.

The hall that led from the living-dining room was more than a mere passage; rather, it was another opportunity to display art and sculpture atop a Scandinavian sideboard. The “U” shaped kitchen also had light finishes and the dropped counter with chairs below under a large picture window was the perfect spot for breakfast. Another hall had space for a mini-home office or workspace complete with an ergonomic chair.

The spare contemporary look carried through to a main floor bedroom with a platform bed covered by a colorful quilt in a star pattern. The bath had European touches of a narrow depth porcelain lavatory over a teak cabinet with inlaid wood work. This suite had its own exterior door which would be convenient for guests.

The master suite was a delightful dormer room tucked under the roof with dormer windows for light and views into the woods for nocturnal star-gazing. Appropriately, a wedding ring quilt adorned the bed and the warm wood furnishings created a restful retreat.

An inviting deck at grade level with chairs by the water was a peaceful place for contemplating nature. The two-story barn could be converted to a guest house and the site is large enough for the addition of a pool.

For more information about this property, please contact Cornelia Heckenbach at 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.