Victorian charm overpowers ease of maintenance


May 29, 1994|By Donna Weaver | Donna Weaver,Contributing Writer

Until nine years ago, Carol and Jeff Sattler owned what their parents considered a part of the American Dream: a comfortable, nine-room split-level in the suburbs.

But the Sattlers tossed their parents' dream away to buy their dream -- a turn-of-the-century, 15-room Queen Anne Victorian in the Hamilton section of Baltimore.

Sure, they left a house with low maintenance for one that needs constant work, but they say they're happy.

"I like the oldness of it, the craftsmanship," says Mrs. Sattler, 40, a vice president at NationsBank.

"But it needs lots of care and feeding," adds Mr. Sattler, 41, a part-time real estate agent/developer, and full-time caretaker of the couple's two children, Sam, 20 months, and Jason, 4. "It's like having another baby. But it's nice to live in a house that others think is neat."

What's not to like? The house has practically everything on Mrs. Sattler's checklist: pocket doors, hardwood floors, high ceilings, French doors and a fireplace.

The Victorian also has polygonal towers, brass fixtures, two staircases, a wide front porch, large rooms, a decorative tin ceiling in the kitchen and 54 windows, some of them with stained glass. The house also has its original slate roof, complete with bands of red tiles.

The three-story house is one of the biggest and fanciest residences in the neighborhood. Perhaps that's what the Schluderbergs -- co-founders of Esskay -- wanted when they paid German carpenters to construct the house in 1904. The craftsmanship and attention to detail are impeccable, from the carved oak urn finials crowning the threshold to the main staircase to the decorative scrollwork on the radiators.

The 4,200-square-foot house became the first residence in the neighborhood to sell for $100,000 when the Sattlers bought it in 1985. Two years ago, the house was appraised for $165,000.

"It's very rare to find a house in this kind of shape that was affordable," Mr. Sattler says.

The first floor is the most appealing, particularly the spacious 16-by-10-foot foyer with the majestic oak and pine staircase. The 10-foot ceiling rises to 20 feet in the stairwell, which is lighted from above by the foyer's centerpiece: a 36-by-84-inch stained-glass window with views of a lotus blossom from various angles. There's the side view of a lotus blossom and a one-dimensional view looking from above, its petals forming the shape of a cross.

The lotus blossom theme links all of the home's stained glass, from the ones in the sidelights surrounding the front door to the matching half moon stained glass windows in the living and dining rooms.

A narrow servant's staircase is off the kitchen and leads to the second and third floors. The main staircase only leads to the second floor. The second floor boasts 9-foot ceilings, a bathroom, five bedrooms and a roof porch from which one can see the Key Bridge.

The third floor -- originally the servants' quarters -- has uneven ceiling heights because of the cross gables. One room, with its triangular ceiling, must have been popular with the home's younger residents. One wall is filled with children's drawings and names. One drawing shows a male and a female bunny reading a book. "This is a great house for kids to grow up in," Mr. Sattler says.

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