They'd rather remodel than relocate 48 years at home in the Historic District of Dundalk

Dream Home

August 25, 1996|By DeWitt Bliss | DeWitt Bliss,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Convenience and remodeling have kept Robert and Betty Rappold in their home in the Historic District of Dundalk for 48 years.

"Every time we felt like moving we remodeled," said Mrs. Rappold. "We have thought about moving several times, but it was so convenient to his job at Bethlehem Steel and to our families who lived close by that we decided to remodel instead."

Mrs. Rappold also cites the history of the community, its people, and the stores and services close at hand, in speaking of the reasons for living in the house on Township Road where she and her husband raised four children after becoming the home's third owners.

The house bears a brass plaque noting that it is in the Historic District of Dundalk, the part of the community started during World War I by the Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation.

Edward H. Bouton, president of the Roland Park Company, directed the project for the federal agency and, after the war, as president of the Dundalk Company. Edward Palmer, chief architect for the Roland Park Company, designed the shopping center and the homes, many of them in stucco with steeply pitched roofs and dormers.

The house started as a typical example of a home with a living room across the front, and a sun porch along the north side.

The dining room and kitchen shared the rear of the building. The front and back doors were at the south side of the house next to those of the adjoining house. At the north end of the lot was a garage, shared with a house on the next pair. The second floor had a bathroom and two bedrooms, and the third floor another bedroom.

The work on the inside began 38 years ago when the Rappolds expanded the bathroom into space that had earlier been taken up by a linen closet. The closet was replaced by a wall of closet space in their bedroom, replacing a small hallway to the steps to the third floor. At the same time, they cut through a wall, building a bar between the kitchen and dining room.

Thirty years ago, the Rappolds replaced the sun room with a wood-paneled family room with windows at the corners, and 10 years later they added a brick fireplace with a raised brick hearth. Though it includes a storage space for firewood, the fireplace now houses gas logs.

The Rappolds also remodeled the kitchen and dining room, reversing their positions so that the kitchen could be reached from the driveway outside through the family room.

The old kitchen door and a small pantry were removed and a window installed. The dining room wall, separating it from the kitchen, is now covered by a floor-to-ceiling mirror, making the room appear larger.

Twenty years ago, they added a bay window to the front wall of the living room, and 13 years ago they built a glassed-in porch across the back of the house -- a Florida room -- connecting at the same level with the dining room and at the other end with the family room. The dining room connection is through a French door where the back door once was.

About two years ago, the Rappolds removed a large damaged pine tree from the back yard, which then was redone, moving a fountain from the center to the southwest corner to make the garden look larger, planting evergreens along the back fence for privacy, and planting perennials and a few annuals that are easily cared for.

The house is furnished in a mixture of styles. Floor-to-ceiling shelving units in a bedroom and in the living room, and a shelf over the fireplace contain Mrs. Rappold's collection of photographs of their four children and nine grandchildren.

The first floor also houses her collection of 15 miniature baby carriages, some of them antique. Three of them on the floor are doll-size carriages with dolls in them, and the remainder smaller ones on shelves.

The Rappolds have been retired since the early 1980s, he as a supervisor in the primary mills at the Bethlehem plant and she as a part-time bookkeeper at the L&S Welding Co. in Baltimore. Her father was a founder of the company, and the job benefits included a ride to work and baby-sitting by her mother.

Though the Rappolds are happy in Dundalk, and long ago gave && up looking at houses as a favorite thing to do on Sundays, the remodeling might not be over.

They are thinking of installing insulated glass and insulating the floor and ceiling of the Florida room so it can be used more during colder weather.

Pub Date: 8/25/96

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