When I first moved to this area, I had an apartment on the second floor of the building that now houses the Nancy Hammond Gallery. I loved taking walks with my beloved Sheltie along the streets near the property and I always paused by this house to admire its double lot that created spacious side and rear yards for privacy. I also admired the simple elegance of the three-bay house with the center front door and original transom, 6/6 sash windows and the painted common bond brick façade that needed no other ornamentation to add to its charm.
Perhaps my years of watching PBS’ Masterpiece Theater influenced me to imagine “a Rector’s wife” would open the door to the brick walk that ended at manicured boxwoods and give me a friendly wave. How fitting since the house’s provenance includes being the Parsonage for the Methodist Episcopal Church in the mid 1800’! The deed noted the house was formerly the residence of John Wrightson. The house is also distinctive for its being one of few brick houses in St. Michaels’ Historic District and was probably rebuilt around a one-story house dating from 1825-1850. The house’s architectural history continued with an 1877 expansion with a final extensive renovation and updates from 2006 -2020.
On the day of my visit, I noticed that the windows have wood lintels underneath brick jack arches and once inside, I saw clues in the flooring that indicated the original stair had been centered opposite the front door to create two front parlors, each with its own fireplace on the side walls. I much prefer how the renovation relocated the stair to the rear part of the house. Now both the sitting area and the dining area are next to fireplaces and sunlight streams into the room throughout the day from its south-east-west orientation.
The rear of the main floor is an open-plan family/kitchen area and one side of the relocated stairs has an open railing that overlooks the space. The powder room is discretely tucked under the stairs and decorated with one of my favorite Henri de Toulouse Lautrec posters, “Divan Japonais Music Hall”. The “L” shaped kitchen with an island has historic olive green colored cabinetry with one of my favorite granite countertops that I often specify for my architectural clients. My only change would be to remove the soffit above the upper cabinets and replace them with glass fronted units for storage of pieces for special occasions or paint the soffit the color of the cabinetry for a uniform look. French doors lead from the family room area to a spacious deck overlooking the side and rear yards.
The second floor bedrooms are located at the front and rear of the house between the stairs, laundry closet and bath. A smaller open room next to the front bedroom could be used as a nursery or office. As tempting as it would be to make the front bedroom the primary bedroom with its one wall of closets, I prefer the interior architecture of the rear bedroom with its knee walls, sloped ceilings, dormer side window and rear double windows giving bird’s eye views of the landscaping below. I would replace the rear double unit windows with French doors to a screened porch over the deck below for a warm weather outdoor sitting room overlooking the side and rear yards.
Even though the house is located in the heart of St. Michaels’ Historic District, the wooden fence on one side and the hedge on the other side make this property a private oasis. The studio building at the rear yard also contributes to the privacy since it blocks the view of the adjacent rear property. With cabinets and a sink, the studio building is ready for the next artisan or other creative endeavors. Great provenance and historic charm with modern updates-an irresistible opportunity!
For more information about this property, contact Joan Wetmore with Meredith Fine Properties at 410-822-6702 (o), 410-924-2432 (c) or JoanWetmore@msn.com. For more photographs and pricing visit www.meredithfineproperties.com , “Equal Housing Opportunity”.
Photography by True Place, (301) 972-3201, www.go.truplace.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.