Sandtown couple didn't look far


August 14, 1994|By Donna Weaver | Donna Weaver,Contributing Writer

For Clarice Allen, a typical spring walk to the neighborhood playground changed her life.

While taking her four foster children to Lafayette Community Park in Sandtown, Mrs. Allen came across a 100-year-old brick rowhouse for sale. The Sandtown native, who was renting a house a few blocks away, was eager to keep her roots in the neighborhood.

"I thought, 'That's it. I can buy a house in my neighborhood and not have to move away from all my friends and family members,' TC " recalls Mrs. Allen, who had never owned a home.

She acted quickly, taking her husband, John, to see it. She knew it would be perfect, and she wasn't disappointed.

The long, narrow house had a kitchen, dining room, living room, three bedrooms, a bathroom, a raised basement and a back yard.

The price was right, too: $29,500. They bought it and moved in June.

She's still dreamy-eyed about the whole endeavor, but she also is level-headed enough to realize the move is the right one for her family.

"We're setting an example for our foster children," says Mrs. Allen, 40. "We're telling them that it's really important to buy a home. If you do work, your dreams can come true. If you work, you can get what you want."

The house is exactly what the Allens want. It has a small entry foyer with terra cotta floor tiles, a spacious living room with projecting bay windows, a dining room with an arched alcove with decorative brackets, a kitchen with the original tin ceiling and windows that measure 94 inches long in the living and dining rooms.

A narrow staircase leads to the second floor and its three bedrooms and bathroom. The Allens' bedroom, above the living room, has projecting bay windows. The middle bedroom is roomy enough for the couple's three foster boys: Ricky, 5, Derrick, 8 and Tyrea, 3. Their foster daughter, Devonna, 2, uses the other bedroom. A skylight at the staircase landing lights the narrow hallway.

The walls are plaster, most of the floors are oak, and the rooms have 10-foot ceilings. In the living and dining rooms, the oak floors sport a decorative red border. The window and door moldings are topped with bull's-eye plinth blocks.

"The house has everything we need, and it's big enough for our entire family, especially after we turn the basement into a family room, a guest bedroom and an exercise room," says Mrs. Allen, who works full-time as a housekeeping supervisor for the Regional Institute for Children and Adolescents in Baltimore and part-time for Brite Way Laundry, which is a few blocks from her home.

Her husband is pleased with the house, too. "I'm more comfortable here," says Mr. Allen, 63, a retired cook who works part-time as a cashier at a Baltimore parking garage. "This is something that will be mine eventually."

When it's time to shop or run errands, they only have to step out their front door. A supermarket is across the street, a bus stop is five blocks away, a barbershop is on the corner, a hardware store and dry cleaners are a few blocks away, the playground is down the street and four elementary schools are nearby.

"Everything is so convenient and the neighbors are so wonderful," Mrs. Allen says. "I don't want to leave."

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