Two Homes On Shore Define Luxury

December 19, 1993|By William Thompson | William Thompson,Staff Writer

Easton -- Even if writers of real estate ads were prohibited by law from excessive use of superlatives, no court would convict them for emptying the thesaurus on McGill Creek Farm and Penderyn, the two priciest properties on Maryland's home market.

Both are located bayside on the Eastern Shore, where sprawling estates surrounded by farmland are still common, despite pressure from cookie-cutter development.

While the centerpiece of each waterfront property is a red-brick mansion designed to conform with the Shore's Colonial-era structures, neither is more than 4 years old.

The real estate agents' code phrase "upper brackets" barely defines the high-end asking price for each home -- $16,250,000 for Penderyn and $15,235,000 for McGill Creek Farm, though it's still to be seen whether the homes will fetch anything near those figures. But the asking price alone makes it obvious why the properties are listed on the international market.

And when it comes to the ad writers' fondness for "spacious," the word cannot adequately describe these two properties.

The Georgian-style manor house at McGill Creek in lower Cecil County provides 25,000 square feet of living space. And if that's not enough elbow room, there's a rooftop widow's walk and 713 acres of rolling farmland to appease anyone's wanderlust.

Snow White and the dwarfs could each have a bedroom at McGill Farm, with extra rooms to spare for their cousins.

Penderyn, located on 44 acres across the narrows from Wye Island in Queen Anne's County, is slightly smaller at 22,512 square feet of living space. Georgian in design, too, the house has 23 rooms -- including eight bedrooms, a conservatory and a billiard room -- and customized Palladian windows on the ground floor that give the downstairs an airy quality.

What about "extravagant"?

Each house has formal and informal dining areas as well as living quarters for servants and separate wings for overnight guests.

Fireplaces are abundant. Penderyn's living room boasts a 17th-century French limestone fireplace that reaches to the ceiling. McGill Creek's fireplaces are equipped with gas jets to start the logs burning without the fuss of crumpled newspapers and kindling.

McGill Creek has backup heating, electricity and water units. Penderyn has a hidden de-icing system beneath the front steps and breezeway.

Both houses feature domestic and imported furnishings, many of which were made specially for the owners. Inside the McGill Creek mansion, for example, even the brass hinges for the solid mahogany bookend doors were customized.

And how about "ingenious"?

The pool house at McGill Farm has the requisite changing rooms and bar. It also has an awning that automatically retracts if winds become too strong. Inside the house, in a small marble-floored bar next to the library, hot and cold water arrives at the touch of a foot. Gold-plated pedals at the base of the sink make it easier for the two-fisted drinker.

Penderyn's billiard room has more than meets the eye. Behind the floor-to-ceiling solid oak walls are secret compartments. FTC Who took the cue ball?) For waterfowlers, Penderyn comes equipped with a state-registered, in-river duck blind.

Boca Raton builder William J. Crocker said he bought the undeveloped McGill Creek Farm in 1986 after he and his wife, Helen Ann, took a detour visit up the Sassafras River while en route from Nantucket to Florida aboard their 134-foot yacht Spellbound.

They were looking for a summer place, he said, and became infatuated with Cecil's rolling farmland and narrow creeks.

"We didn't really start to build a house that big," he said, "but with five kids and our grandchildren, by the time we got done it had turned out that way."

The Crockers hired New York City architect David Anthony Easton to design both the exterior and interior of the house. The reason for having only one designer, said Mr. Crocker, was to ensure that the building show cohesiveness -- inside and out.

"When the house came together," he said, "it wasn't standing there raw. We didn't have to go inside and figure out what came next."

Although the farm has nearly 8,000 feet of waterfront and Mr. Crocker has a permit to build a dock, there are no boating facilities. Part of the reason is that with a water depth of five or six feet, the creek is too shallow to accommodate large vessels.

That was never a problem for Mr. Crocker, who said he kept his yacht at a marina in nearby Georgetown.

"The idea was never to put the boat at the end of a dock," he said. "You have to keep some distance between yourself and the crew."

Mr. Crocker said he put the newly completed estate, where he raises purebred Black Angus cattle, on the market two years ago for health concerns.

McGill Creek, which includes three tenant houses and a barn complex, is being sold furnished -- from the Steinway piano to the original artwork on the walls. "It's as turnkey as they come," said A. John Price, a salesman with Patterson Schwartz Real Estate, who is handling the listing.

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