Owners maintain look of past centuries

CARRYING ON A HOUSE'S HISTORY 1990

December 30, 1990|By Beth Smith

Walking through the front door of Chris and Carol Dozier's home in Unionville is like climbing into a time capsule programmed for a journey backward into rural America of the early 1900s. The world that greets visitors is one of oak, pine, stone and brick, accented with bits of color -- blue, red, mustard -- and complemented with primitive country furnishings.

The authentic look and feel of the great room instills a profound sense of history. Underfoot is a random-width pine floor, scarred by the passage of time and the boots of the men and women who walked these planks for nearly 200 years. Overhead, exposed oak beams run the length of the room.

Under one small window, an 1800s dry sink, decorated in its original red paint, holds mouth-blown glass jars stuffed with Christmas potpourri and candy canes, an antique basket filled with magnolia leaves and holly, and hog scraper iron candlesticks, made in the early 1800s. A brick and paneled wall, painted Williamsburg red, surrounds a large fireplace decorated with dried apple pieces on a string. The bright fire takes the chill off the rainy day and casts a warm glow on the woven red linen camelback sofa and gold wing chair. A 19th century hand-hooked hearth rug, hanging above the fireplace, proclaims "Welcome."

On the wall, faded American and English samplers express timeless lessons. An antique spice rack, with "cinnamon," "nutmeg" and other names of spices, now barely visible but once painted confidently on the tiny compartments, hangs near the door. Nearby, a primitive, enclosed stairway winds to the second floor.

A step-back, mustard-colored 1820s cupboard from Maine holds serving pieces of mocha-banded yellowware in the blue seaweed pattern, made in the 1860s. Near another small window, a sawbuck table made of pine and four primitive, mixed-wood chairs, their black paint worn off by use, offer a place to sit and chat or just view the winter landscape. Here and there, springs of holly and boughs of greens add simple touches of holiday cheer.

In the mid-1800s, this pleasant space was the main room of a tavern hosting rough and tumble teamsters, stopping on their journeys to and from isolated towns, their wagons loaded down with goods for the settlers flocking across the mountains. Now it is the informal living area of the Doziers and their two children, Brian, a midshipman at the Naval Academy, and Kim, a sophomore at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa.

Today, the Dozier house is situated in a meadow almost 50 minutes from Baltimore, in Frederick County. Five years ago, it stood on land near Romney, W.Va., in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.

"We first saw a picture of the house in Mid-Atlantic Country" magazine, says Carol Dozier, who is a nurse, and who also sells American primitive painted furniture of the 18th and 19th centuries and handworked samplers from the same period. "Actually, there were two houses, this one and a stone house. I said to a friend I would like to knock on the doors to see if the owners would want to sell."

The Doziers had been living in Columbia for 12 years and had a home full of primitive antiques. They had been searching for a place more in keeping with the style of their furnishings and accessories. After hearing from their real estate agent that the houses were for sale, they drove out on Halloween three years ago.

"I was thinking more in terms of the stone house," recalls Mrs. Dozier, "but Chris was immediately attracted to this house." At the time, the house was basically a shell of logs and siding. The interior was rough. To inspect the attic -- what was to become their son's bedroom -- the Doziers had to climb a ladder, as the steps were not in place.

"What impressed me," says Chris Dozier, a Naval Academy graduate and sales executive with an interest in woodworking, "was that so much of the original house, including the floors, beams, logs, paneling, doors, mantels, moldings and other woodwork, had been saved."

They talked to Phillip Hatfield, the owner of the house, who had had it dismantled and moved from its original site.

"I saw the house advertised in the Washington Post," says Mr. Hatfield, who was in the process of restoring an 1823 stone house in Unionville, "and I went to see it during Christmas week in 1985."

Having restored homes in Bolton Hill, New Market and Howard County, Mr. Hatfield was not a novice when he trekked over to West Virginia to see the Zacharia Arnold house, named after the original owner who built the log section of native oak and yellow pine in 1795. Arnold descendants had lived in the house until the 1970s.

Although less experienced restorers might have been put off by the rather plain-looking, 35-foot-long and 25-foot-deep frame house with no indoor plumbing, no heating system except a center fireplace, crumbling plaster walls and all sorts of problems, Mr. Hatfield was impressed.

"I knew this house was special," he says.

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