This house is one of the oldest houses that remain on the two blocks of N. Aurora Street that were once nicknamed “Silk Stocking Row” in honor of the notable families who called this street home in the late 19th century. The property is located on a very desirable corner lot with an alley at the rear for access to the one-car former carriage house. The deep lot has another outbuilding and the screened porch at the rear of the house overlooks the fenced lawn that has several mature trees for shade. At the side street, a row of tall crape myrtles are aligned at attention over the shade garden.
The front elevation is a three-story, three bay composition with a steeply pitched front gable that accentuates its three floors. The pair of entry doors at the right side of the front elevation next to two single windows sets up the symmetry of the second floor windows below the double unit window centered in the gable. The classic color palette of the reddish brick exposed foundation, white lap siding and green shutters has great appeal. The double entry doors have a simple treatment also; instead of a porch, brick steps with white railings lead up to the stoop. At the side elevation, there is a porch leading to the secondary entrance to the kitchen area.
When I opened the front doors, the vistas through and across the house clearly illustrated this interior was from an early era of details and craftsmanship. The spacious foyer ends at a diagonal bulkhead with side brackets that separates the public rooms of the front parlor and the dining room from the rear parlor and kitchen area. High ceilings, windows strategically placed for ventilation, moldings with a mix of both crown and dentil at the ceiling, baseboard and hardwood floors date from the late Victorian era.
In the foyer, the top and bottom crown moldings at the ceiling are painted brown to contrast with the middle dentil molding of white. In the front parlor, all the layers are painted white along with the baseboards and window trim. The inside-mount plantation shutters are stained brown to complement the wood floors and the upper shutters can be open to allow sunlight within while the bottom shutters can be closed for privacy. The lovely shade of yellow for the walls would be a perfect backdrop for furniture. On either side of the fireplace is built-in millwork with the top of the baseboard being the bottom shelf and above the top shelf is an arched recess that is backlit for display. Past the stairs is the one-story cloakroom and powder room and the door to the dining room. The spacious dining room has a wide corner built-in cabinet with upper glass doors waiting to be filled with the next owner’s serving pieces and crystal. The side wall has a double unit window and the rear wall has a single window overlooking the rear yard. The chair rail above the wainscot divides the walls for paint and/or wallpaper. The period chandelier is set in the center of the room to accommodate a large table for dinner parties or family celebrations.
Offset from the dining room is the family room across from the “private” section of the hall ending at the kitchen. The family room projects beyond the side wall of the house with a center double window and single windows at each side to create a box bay for views of the shade garden. The long room can accommodate seating in both the box bay area and around the fireplace. Next to the family room is a secondary stair that once was probably used by staff to access the upper floors but is now a great fire escape. The large kitchen has beautiful stone flooring, wood paneled cabinetry, granite countertops and black appliances. When the kitchen was renovated, the layout accommodated the long existing windows very well and the back door leads to the screened porch overlooking the yard. As much as I treasure my screened porch, I would open up the rear wall of this kitchen to a sunroom overlooking the landscaping. Then one could later convert the original family room into a main floor bedroom since the cloakroom and powder room could become a full bath.
The stairs to the second floor have winders at the top portion ending at a hall with windows for daylight along the side of the house. The wide hall connects the rear primary suite with the three other bedrooms along the side and front of the house. Past the first staircase is another staircase to the third floor. I loved the wall detailing at both ends of the second stair with a rounded top meeting a “bracket” of plaster at each side wall that leads to the rear primary suite. There is a small bedroom included in this area that would be a delightful sitting room with its windows on three sides for the primary bedroom suite. I would move the laundry alcove out of the primary suite and its wide alcove with the same arched top/bracket sides would be a perfect office nook.
As appealing as the guest bedrooms are, my choice, if I were lucky to be a guest, would be to claim the third floor with its sloped wall/ceiling planes from the intersections of the gables, knee walls of various heights, wood floors and windows on all exterior walls. The space spans from the front of the house to the rear with the third room projecting over the family room below for bird’s eye views of the Historic District from all rooms.
One of a kind residence with details from another era, great family house with a deep yard for play, zoned well for gathering together and for privacy on each floor. The house also has a basement which would make it easier to add an elevator at a later date. The radiators are a great source of heat and adding high velocity AC would complete the thermal comfort. The house has great “bones” and with restoration of the wood floors and painting that could be done as a master plan, this house could once again be the gem of “Silk Stocking Row.”
For more information about this property, contact Diane Taylor with Benson and Mangold at 410-770-9255 (o), 410-924-1586 or D.email@example.com. For more pictures and pricing, visit www.bensonandmanghold.com ,“Equal Housing Opportunity
Photography by TruPlace, https://truplace.com 301-972-3201
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.