Retired Pa. couple finds Shore 'place in the sun' Retreat: The Robinsons moved into their weekend retreat in Kent County, but they still are close to their children in Philadelphia.

Dream Home

November 15, 1998|By Joni Guhne | Joni Guhne,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The dream home of James and Maxine Robinson was neither the result of agonizing effort nor did it come as a complete surprise.

While exploring historic Chestertown on the Eastern Shore a little more than three years ago, the couple came upon the waterfront community of Tolchester Estates on the Chesapeake Bay.

The discovery came during one of their frequent trips from Philadelphia to visit family in Annapolis.

Built along Tolchester Beach, a popular Kent County destination in the early 20th century for Baltimore excursion boats, Tolchester Estates was nestled within a forest of maples, oaks, sweet gums and dogwoods.

Here, the Robinsons found a house -- a three-bedroom rancher with a sun porch on a half-acre lot -- so perfect for them that it and its $70,000 asking price couldn't be ignored.

As retirement neared, the Robinsons discussed leaving their Philadelphia home of 23 years. But if they decided to move, their new destination had to be within a 100-mile radius of their children in Philadelphia.

So, when they discovered the Upper Shore, they knew they had found the perfect location, just 93 miles from home, and "two hours door-to-door," Mrs. Robinson said.

The Tolchester Estates home had all the prerequisites: the Bay and an easy country lifestyle that was the opposite of their hustle-and-bustle life in the heart of Philadelphia.

At first their new home was a weekend retreat, with the Robinsons arriving on Friday evening and lingering long into Sunday afternoon before reluctantly returning to Philadelphia.

"Every Sunday afternoon, I would start to get depressed," she said with a look of relief now that she no longer has to leave the home she and her husband love.

"We began extending our stay into Monday morning," she said, "and hating to leave even then."

Of course, living in the city had been their best option. Retired from the Navy, James Robinson was employed by the state of Pennsylvania and worked in Philadelphia. His wife was a human resources worker at two city hospitals.

On the first of August, after three years of driving nearly 200 miles every weekend, the Robinsons moved permanently to their "place in the sun."

Among the aspects they enjoy most about the home is that it is roomy enough to allow their five children and two grandchildren to sleep over.

It also has the spacious sun porch, which has windows that open to provide a continuous breeze through the house.

Much of the house is decorated in her favorite style, "nautical country." The dining room, with wainscoting made of old barn siding, is trimmed with graceful loops of nautical roping, and a guest bedroom with murals of the bay.

Another much-liked feature is the master bedroom with its cathedral ceiling and skylight, where moonlight can illuminate the room at night.

But like many homes, this one needed a few improvements.

A storage building was constructed shortly after the move to accommodate belongings from their former two-story townhouse. The Robinsons also are having an addition to the house built that will add a laundry and powder room.

Knowing that the house was truly their parents' dream home, the children all pitched in on moving day with their mother organizing the move. Each box had been numbered to match that of the room for which it was intended. "And the children didn't mind that everything was on one floor, either," she said with a laugh.

As eager as she was to move, the native Philadelphian cried as she prepared to leave a lifetime of memories.

But, Maxine Robinson added, "I wouldn't trade it. While I've never been a nature person, I just love going out and walking. I love the water and the trees. The birds talk to you, and the people are so warm and friendly. There's quite a culture shock between Philadelphia and Tolchester."

Pub Date: 11/15/98

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