Garrett County dreaming A turn-of-the-century summer resort casts spell over 2 retired educators

Dream Home

February 09, 1997|By Cindy Stacy | Cindy Stacy,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

MOUNTAIN LAKE PARK -- What Prince George's County educators Anne and Don Forrester always wanted when they retired was to settle into "a dream home in a dream community."

They've achieved both, retiring in July 1995 to a new 3,000-square-foot-home in Garrett County's Mountain Lake Park.

"It's a lot like Laurel was 40 years ago," said Mrs. Forrester, who until her move to Maryland's westernmost county had always lived in Laurel. "There's a sense of community and everyone knows everyone."

So besides their new home with old-fashioned front and rear porches, the Forresters are clearly smitten with life in the mountaintop town that was a famous turn-of-the-century summer resort.

Today, Mountain Lake Park is home to the nation's second oldest tennis tournament and the designer of the Elvis Presley postage stamp, Mark Stutzman.

As an undergraduate student in the late 1960s at nearby Frostburg State University in Allegany County, Don Forrester drove to Garrett County to poke around.

"Of course, I was never thinking about retiring here," he said, recalling how at that time, "the county was so very rural and remote."

But Interstate 68 and other improvements have advanced the county just enough to add a variety of restaurants, shops and amenities for retirees.

After relatives and friends had moved to the county, the Forresters began investigating picturesque Deep Creek Lake and nearby towns as a retirement place. Thinking ahead, the couple purchased the full-service town lot in Mountain Lake Park in 1988 and even put their Laurel home on the market a year ahead of their retirement date.

"We were told it was a soft market and it might take a long time to sell our home," said the couple, surprised when it quickly sold and they had to temporarily move into rented quarters until they could retire and finish building their dream home.

Building their Garrett County house -- which cost $216,000 including the half-acre lot -- was a rewarding experience, something that they would "gladly do again."

"We bought all the exterior brass fixtures, ceiling fans and the like before we left the Laurel area," Don Forrester said. "The builder encouraged us to do that, and then he'd installed everything while finishing the house."

The couple said finding a house plan and modifying it to suit their tastes was a fairly simple process, after having lived in three prefabricated homes before.

The Forresters essentially wanted a one-story house with separate sleeping quarters for them and their disabled adult daughter.

"We didn't even think about adding dormer widows and finishing the second story space until a friend suggested it," said Mr. Forrester, who uses the space for his office and recreation room. A local Amish-run lumber company, Rigidply Rafters, custom-built the ceiling and floor joists.

Mrs. Forrester got a sitting room she had always wanted on the first floor, which is separated from her daughter's room by two powder rooms and a shared shower. The sitting room also is accessible from a spacious living room and doubles as a guest room.

"It's a house built to live in," said Mr. Forrester, who said his retirement would be perfect if he could only persuade his parents, in Philadelphia, to move to a nearby Mennonite nursing home village.

The Forresters, both 51, have discovered numerous outlets for their talents and energy. Mrs. Forrester is a volunteer one day a week at Garrett Memorial Hospital, while Mr. Forrester, a former elementary school principal, was tapped by his alma mater to supervise student teachers. He recently joined a Lions Club and reactivated his Masons' membership.

"There's a crying need for volunteers here," said Mrs. Forrester, who also belongs to the Oakland Civic Club and will do anything except substitute teach. "I think I've had enough of schools and kids for awhile," she said, having taught mathematics for 28 years.

She even enjoys housework, saying, "Retirement simply means you don't have to do the laundry anymore on weekends. You can take your time and enjoy anything you want."

Pub Date: 2/09/97

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