Colonial times in Rodgers Forge


January 09, 1994|By Maryalice Yakutchik | Maryalice Yakutchik,Contributing Writer

The thing the Prengers like best about their home is also the thing they like least.

Work, school, relatives and recreation -- everything from soccer at school to symphony in the city -- couldn't be more convenient, Michael Prenger boasts before turning wistful: "The house is central to everywhere," he says, "everywhere but Williamsburg."

But, by the look of things, Virginia's Colonial city has taken up residence at the Prengers' restored brick rowhouse on Murdock Road in the Rodgers Forge section of Baltimore County, from the American flag to the globed candles in the windows to the blue of the settee and china. The careful attention to detail -- the wooden basket of dried hydrangea and the bittersweet woven in the dining room chandelier -- comes from years of study and experience.

Mr. Prenger and his wife, Pamela, both 43, have visited Williamsburg at least 30 times. It was the site of their honeymoon, as well as their 20th anniversary. The appeal has to do with going back to a quieter, more peaceful time, when both beauty and comfort were priorities, says Mr. Prenger, a molecular biologist at the Gerontology Research Center on Eastern Avenue, an arm of the National Institutes of Health.

He and Mrs. Prenger, a medical claims examiner at Core Source in White Marsh, kick around the idea of retiring in Williamsburg. And they hope that at least one of their two daughters will earn a soccer scholarship to the College of William and Mary, giving the couple another excuse to visit the area.

But as much as they love Williamsburg, neither is really looking forward to moving from Rodgers Forge again, Mr. Prenger says. The couple's first house was just a block away on Murdock; then they moved to Harford County and then to Lancaster County, Pa. Two years ago, the family came back and settled among the 1,200 residences that make up the original section of Rodgers Forge, built 55 years ago to resemble an English town.

Elizabeth, 10, and Kaitlyn, 11, are enrolled in the fifth and sixth grades in Rodgers Forge Elementary and Dumbarton Middle schools. Bothparticipate in sports offered by the Towson Recreation Council.

Mrs. Prenger likes living just a short drive from her mother and mother-in-law, all of whom share the same Williamsburg Potpourri china pattern; the easy access to extra pieces makes entertaining easy, whether it's Thanksgiving dinner for her brother's family, who also lives in Rodgers Forge, or the main courseof the neighborhood dinner parties that move from house to house.

Mr. Prenger appreciates the low maintenance of the three-story structure, which has the charm of an older home: deep baseboards, curved walls and tile and hardwood floors, to name a few features. Outside, there is enough yard to grow some roses and keep a small dog named Patience content.

The Prengers bought the property for $110,000 from the estate of its second owner. In fact, there are several original owners still living on his block, Mr. Prenger says. When they moved in, they went to work on the plain white plaster walls: adding wallpaper in the dining room; painting the living room a taupe named Moir Shop Fawn and the kitchen in Market Square Tavern Green (both named after Williamsburg sites where the colors are found).

"We spent between $2,000 and $3,000 on molding and wallpapers," he says. "But I did all the work myself."

The most substantial addition the Prengers have made to the three-bedroom, one-bath house is a used-brick patio out back: a gracious if tiny retreat, perfect for sipping cider or ale and reminiscing about old Williamsburg.

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