Turn-of-the-century grandeur Restoration: A family pours love and labor into bringing back a proud old house in Baltimore.

Dream Home

August 16, 1998|By Joni Guhne | Joni Guhne,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The 95-year-old home of Jim and Jean-Marie Padden stands sedately on a corner lot in the community of Mayfield like a grand old matron ready to bestow her blessings on a new generation.

At the turn of the century, Mayfield was home to some of Baltimore's leading merchant families.

The three-story brick house on Mayfield Avenue, just a couple of blocks from Clifton Park, was built in 1903 for Edward Bauern-schmidt, son of John Bauernschmidt, founder of the Bauernschmidt Brewery of Baltimore.

The house showcases the craftsman philosophy of construction: six-over-one windows, frosted glass and hammered metal chandeliers, 10-foot ceilings and extensive use of oak interior trim.

The couple was excited to find the house four years ago.

"Actually, the house found us," Jean-Marie said. "We weren't really looking, but we both liked Mayfield, and there was an 'open house' sign.

"When we walked into the foyer, we were both immediately smitten, and what's even better is that this house can accommodate my entire family of 10 brothers and sisters.

"I'd have to say, my favorite room is the east parlor, which is our formal living area," she said, adding that it was the first room to be decorated. When it was completed, she told Jim, "I'm never leaving this house you can hold my wake right here."

The house is filled with mementos from the turn of the century: A small wooden door in the kitchen was once the "modern" delivery door for the iceman; two wood-trimmed electric power boxes are still fitted with knob-and-tube wiring.

On a wall in each room are the buttons once used to summon servants, who had their own back stairway and living quarters on the third floor.

In the kitchen, the servants received their calls at a wooden box on the wall with arrows that pointed to the room where they were being summoned: the vestibule, the east and west parlors, the bed chambers and, a surprisingly contemporary name, the den.

Above the arrows is hand-lettered in gold: Edward Bauernschmidt, Baltimore.

A wall switch in the original master bedroom allowed the owners to turn on every light in the house, perhaps an early anti-burglar device.

Four bedrooms are on the second floor, each 16 feet by 19 feet, plus a large bathroom with its original tub and sink.

The bedrooms provide sleep and play space for the Paddens' three children: Vincent, 4; Nancy, 3; and Rita, 2.

A maid's closet on the second-floor landing is equipped with a sink and running water.

The basement has a canning room, in addition to an oak-paneled laundry with several ceramic tubs.

Beyond the purchase price of $200,000, the Paddens estimate they have spent more than $70,000 fighting the ravages of time, including stripping and refinishing woodwork, doors and floors, and correcting a front porch that hung loosely from the house because of poorly functioning copper downspouts.

The fourth owners of the house, the Paddens try to accomplish at least one or two major improvements each year.

Stepping through the floor of the rear deck prompted Jim to re-landscape the back yard from the house to the swimming pool.

Facing a side street, the separate brick, three-car garage forms an architectural backdrop for the pool.

"It took painters two months just to paint the exterior woodwork," Jim said.

Inside, the balusters on the main staircase were a three-day job for the crew.

Walls and ceilings in the spacious attic were finished to accommodate the nanny's quarters, plus a new office.

Kitchen cabinets have been replaced and new green-and-white tiles cover counters and backsplash. The kitchen -- in which two layers of floor tiles were removed to reveal the rich patina of an old pine floor -- is large enough for a breakfast table and two refrigerators.

A house with 54 windows is a house with lots of heat exchange, but the prohibitive cost of replacing them with modern windows far outweighs the winter fuel bills of $700 a month, Jim said. He has installed 13 window air conditioners.

Although the house has three mantels, it was never equipped with fireplaces. The assumption is that families at the turn of the century who could afford central heating were so proud of it that they did not install fireplaces.

Another theory is that the original owners were German, and European fireplaces traditionally were mantels fitted with small stoves.

"This move has taught us so much," Jean-Marie said.

When they decided to refinish the floors, she jokingly suggested that they move all the furniture onto the porch and hire security guards to watch it.

After weeks of moving furniture from one room to another and calling on all their friends to help, they realized her idea would have been the sensible thing to do.

Pub Date: 8/16/98

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