Antiquity Restored A historic 17th century house in Baltimore county lives again after a careful rehabilitation

October 28, 1990|By Beth Smith

A pile of stones and a heap of old logs are usually not a home buyer's dream. But to Anne and Hugh Coyle, these rough materials, stacked on a treed lot off Falls Road, meant the solution to their home buying dilemma. He wanted something new, she wanted something old -- together they chose to restore one of the great old houses of Baltimore County.

One year after first viewing what Anne Coyle calls the "rubble," they moved into their new home, which had stood for centuries near Padonia Road and Interstate 83 in what's now Timonium. During the winter of 1986, the house was disassembled stone by stone, log by log, with every salvable part systematically numbered and labeled by contractor Martin Azola. Then all the marked pieces were trucked to a vacant acre in Rockland Village.

Today, Taylor's Hall is restored to all its 18th century beauty by Mr. Azola and architect L. J. Link Jr.

Known as a telescope house because of its three sections, with each addition larger and more stately than the previous one, the house was reassembled using the original building materials and architectural details, including windows, doors, fireplaces, mantels, stairways, molding and woodwork.

Each of the three original sections has a story. The oldest log section, believed to have been built around 1697, still contains its huge kitchen fireplace, log walls and an enclosed corner staircase winding up to a small sleeping loft. The exceptionally large dining room, built in 1727 as the main room of the second section, is authentically restored with its low ceiling, exposed beams and fireplace flanked by two doors. And part of the interior is much the same as it was in 1775 when Thomas Cockey Deye, speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates from 1781 to 1785, built the house's third section out of a special kind of limestone called "Cockeysville marble."

Some changes were made as Taylor's Hall caught up with the lifestyles of the 1990s.

"We built an entirely new house inside an old house," says Mr. Azola. The job included adding new plumbing, heating and electrical systems and installing air conditioning. A garage wing was added. And carefully blended into the rear of the house is a new two-story wing incorporating an up-to-date kitchen, family room, powder room and second-floor master suite complete with a raspberry-colored whirlpool tub.

The combining of the antique with the modern canceled out the Coyles' opposite views on buying a new or old house. Mr. Coyle, a mortgage banker, was not a "fix-it" type and didn't want the worries and problems of owning an old house. Mrs. Coyle, an independent tour guide and history buff who longed for the traditional graciousness of an older home, resisted a brand new home. After eight months of diligent searching, she remembers thinking, "Never the twain shall meet."

Then they had a chance encounter with Martin Azola in June 1986 -- both families were putting children on a camp bus."We knew Marty was a builder and we asked if he had anything," says Mrs. Coyle. "He said he had a couple of historic homes that he had taken apart and was going to resurrect . . . and my ears picked up. And then he said they were going to have all new interiors, and my husband's ears picked up."

One of Mr. Azola's houses was Taylor's Hall. Although it's difficult to trace the history of a house thought to be almost 300 years old, Mr. Azola and Mrs. Coyle have tried to document the structure. It had stood on land granted to Joseph Taylor in 1704. The log section -- probably used for tobacco storage -- is thought to have been standing still when it was bought by Thomas Cockey in 1727; his heir Thomas Cockey Deye expanded this house. Cockey's descendants lived in Taylor's Hall until the mid-1800s.

The house sold to the Padians, Irish immigrants who were instrumental in founding Texas, Md., and for whom Padonia Road is named. One of Anne Coyle's prize possessions is a metal nameplate for a barrel stave, marked "R. Padian," that was found in the walls of the house during its dismantling.

Various owners occupied Taylor's Hall until the 1960s, when the Harry T. Campbell Company bought the house and land that bordered on its quarries. During the next two decades, the house fell into disrepair and was set on fire by vandals. Then in the mid-1980s, Mr. Azola, who was a member of the Baltimore County Landmarks Commission struck a deal with Genstar (formerly the Campbell Company) and Baltimore County, which were in a legal battle over the fate of the house. Mr. Azola's plan was to dismantle it, move it to a vacant lot and rebuild it.

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