When I first saw this house, I admired the designer’s homage to the American Craftsman architectural style, personified by brothers Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Greene. The American Craftsman style encompassed all aspects of residential design, from architecture, applied arts, decorative arts and landscape design. The style evolved from the Shingle Style, Japanese design and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie style. The Greene brothers’ practice culminated in their design of the Gamble House in Pasadena, CA. Many years ago, I toured this iconic house and marveled at the interiors, the work of Scandinavian woodworkers who labored for eleven months to carve, cut, join, and hand rub seventeen species of wood, predominantly redwood, into the house and its furnishings with the highest level of craftsmanship.
After many years in the house, the Gambles decided to move back east. When I toured the house many years ago, the docent told me about the first showing. The Gambles reached the bottom of the front steps as a realtor and potential buyers had just reached the top steps. The Gambles heard the wife of the couple exclaim “the woodwork makes the house so dark”. The realtor then said, “oh, you can just paint all the woodwork white.” The Gambles immediately stormed up the steps and reclaimed their house. Today, Gamble House is on the National Register of Historic Places (with nary a white wall in sight) and is open for tours and events.
This Craftsman style house is sited on 5.53 +/- acres with water views from the northwest to the southwest along the fully rip-rapped shoreline along the Choptank River. The gravel drive leads to a clearing in the trees to the front elevation of the two and a half-story house clad in red cedar shake siding with creamy white trim. The windows and doors have the signature Craftsman header detail that extends slightly beyond the top of the jamb trim.
The entry door with its full height sidelights of stained wood is a preamble to the stunning woodwork throughout the house including the custom staircase in the foyer. Over the front door is a very low slope roof supported by stained posts with an additional horizontal beam that is an Oriental touch. The main floor rectangular plan is articulated with offsets, a notched corner and the elevation is enhanced with two box bays whose gable roofs penetrate the roof at the third floor. One box bay has a triangular shape that overhangs the first floor below and the other box bay ends at the first floor ceiling. A greenhouse projects from the studio wing with its half solid, half glass walls and roof.
The rear elevation opens up to the water for panoramic views from two box bays, multiple long triple unit windows and sliding doors to two decks, one off the living room and one at the other end of the house off the studio, and single doors from the butler pantry and the kitchen. Over the sliding doors to the deck off the living room is another slow sloped roof with a frame of stained pilasters, angled framing and horizontal brackets supporting the shallow low sloped roof. The elevation is further articulated with a wide shed dormer at the partial third floor for bird’s eye views up and down the river. The corner of one side elevation opens up to the water with a grid of rows of long windows, transoms and long windows above wrapping around the corner.
The custom Craftsman style wide front door opens into the spacious foyer next to the stairs opposite the elevator. When I saw the beautiful stained maple window and door trim, the treads, risers, and balustrade of the stairs, I was remembered the realtor’s comment about the Gamble House’s redwood. I hope the buyer for this house will appreciate how the stained trim enhances this house. The detailing of the custom wood entry door was skillfully detailed with a grid of wood and glass and I especially admired the earth toned colors of the quartzite stone flooring. Off the foyer is a short hall to the elevator, bath, and butler’s pantry.
The foyer blends into the open plan living-dining-kitchen-den, with the freestanding Temp Cast fireplace that is a sculptural element at the center of the space. This splendid space’s ceiling heights change from the two story living area to the one-story den, dining and kitchen. The placement of the stained beams and columns and the change in floor finishes also defines the change in function. The corner projection of the living room reaches out to the water with the floor to ceiling arrangement of windows, transoms and upper windows separated by structural mullions with black metal straps framing the panoramic views of the river. Above the top windows is a row of transoms below the gable ridge. The dining room’s wood table can accommodate family meals or larger dinner parties and the table is perpendicular to the rear long triple waterside windows.
As a cook, I simply coveted the spacious kitchen and adjacent butler’s pantry with Craftsman styled wood cabinets spanning from the ceiling to the curved furniture leg treatment at the floor, the shallow cabinets at the waterside wall with knee space for a workspace, drawers for table linen and built-in shelving for cookbooks. The kitchen sink is below an opening in the wall that is on axis with another in the adjacent butler pantry to one in the studio beyond. Center doorways in the butler pantry also connect the three spaces.
The large waterside studio with its pair of sliding doors with full sidelights, a skylight above the recessed translucent ceiling panels in a black grid that resembles a Shoji screen, the row of cabinets and sink for clean-up, is dream space for any creative endeavor. The front wall has an opening to the side entry hall and deck off the driveway. The hall has a long bench for dropping totes and bags after an afternoon of errands and closets for coats. The continuation of the beautiful earth toned stone flooring ties all of the “service” areas together.
The second floor contains two waterside primary suites with walk-in closets and spacious baths and an office/bedroom in the corner above the den below. One primary bedroom and the corner bedroom/office have large wall openings overlooking the living room. I especially liked the waterside bath with the Craftsman style cabinetry detailed with a center seat, dual lavatories and triple windows and transoms above with mirrored panels at each end. The other primary bedroom is located at the side gable wall with a two single windows and a third accent window below the ceiling’s ridge, and a triple unit window at the front wall.
The partial third floor contains another suite with a sitting room, bedroom and bath. The sitting room has a railing overlooking part of the second floor and a rear dormer infilled with windows offers long views of the water. The interior architecture of the sloped ceiling’s follows the angle of the roof rafters to meet the flat center portion.
Very private 5.53 acre property with a fully rip-rapped 750 foot shoreline and sandy beach along the Choptank River that offers the peace and quiet of nature. This magnificent Craftsman style house constructed with the highest level of craftsmanship is beautifully sited to offer Northwest and Southwest views over the open water of the river. The house has low maintenance exteriors including Ipe decks and copper roofing, along with geothermal HVAC, radiant heat and a climate controlled crawl space with concrete slab floor. Universal Design features include an elevator to serve all floors and one bath that is wheelchair accessible for aging in place. One of a kind property that pays homage to the iconic work of the Greene and Green brothers!
For more information about this property contact Faye Roser with Benson & Mangold Real Estate at 410-822-4215 (o), 410-310-6356 (c) , or [email protected]. For more pictures and pricing, visit fayeroser.bensonandmangold.com/,“Equal Housing Opportunity” Designer: Susan Harwood of Harwood Design
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.