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, “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.

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