To many people, South Point is just a road on Maryland's Eastern Shore that forks to the right as Route 611 veers left and passes over Sinepuxent Bay on the bridge to Assateague Island National Seashore.
But to Bob and Carol Wilson, South Point is more than a road -- it's a small, sheltered peninsular community that seems transported back to another time.
It's also where the couple has taken residence in a prefabricated home that began its life in a Nanticoke manufacturing facility.
Mr. Wilson, a chief human resources officer at the Johns Hopkins University, and Mrs. Wilson, who worked part-time for a Towson-based law firm, felt drawn to the Eastern Shore when they were considering retirement. They were empty nesters and their home in the Timonium neighborhood of Springlake was large and comfortable, but they wanted to change location.
"We used to daydream about transporting our home to a place near the seashore where our porch would overlook the water," Mrs. Wilson said. "I never dreamed it would happen."
It took two big steps to get there. First, the couple bought an Ocean City condominium in 1994 and began to sample living in the resort area year-round. Two years later, Mrs. Wilson retired and they decided to sell their condo and Springlake house and find a single-family home near the shore.
"We loved coastal living," said Mr. Wilson, "but we wanted a more peaceful setting and a one-level home with no steps to manage as we get older."
The hunt consumed many weekends as the couple explored communities as far north as Bethany Beach, Del. It brought them to South Point, a peninsula jutting south toward Chincoteague Bay and bordered on the west by Newport Bay and on the east by Sinepuxent Bay.
Even then, it was chance more than choice that led to the discovery of the home.
The home was a modestly sized three-bedroom, two-bath Nanticoke rancher with a two-car garage. The bay view was blocked from the roadside by the home and surrounding trees.
"It had that prefab look and we passed it by several times," Mrs. Wilson said. "It was hard to miss because there is only one road in and out of South Point. Finally we decided to check it out."
They were glad they did.
Built in 1987, a previous owner had removed walls to open up a kitchen, living room and dining area, affording a panoramic view of Sinepuxent Bay and Assateague Island. The shallow bay waters were teeming with wildlife, the sights and sounds of birds were everywhere, and the hustle and bustle of civilization were at a distant hum.
Today, that marvelous view -- a "long view," as Mr. Wilson calls it -- is enhanced by interior and exterior changes made by the Wilsons, who are preparing for their third summer in the home.
The prefab look is gone. The house's exterior lines are broken up by a front deck, and soft cream-colored siding and red trim and shutters help it blend into its setting. An attractive gravel walk winds around native shade trees, Bradford pear trees setting blooms and other landscaping.
Inside, the first impression is of one big sun-filled room with a view. A modern kitchen with two islands and a generous amount of cabinetwork are situated immediately to the right. To the left is an open dining area, and beyond is a large great room that opens to a 16-by-20-foot four seasons room whose expanse of glass frames a view of the bay.
The sun room was one of the first major enhancements the Wilsons made to their home, replacing a smaller screened-in porch. Its floor-to-ceiling windows, four skylights, wood flooring and cedar-accented walls blend into the home's other living areas. To the right, sliding doors lead to a small exterior deck and steps down to a larger patio.
White wicker furniture in the sun room, the absence of curtains or drapes, and light wood tones give the room a feeling of space and lightness. The same look and feel extend into the rest of the living area, where white walls, casual furniture groupings and a number of Oriental rugs overlaying a rich blue carpet tie the open areas together.
Downsizing from a larger home wasn't easy, the Wilsons say, but enhancements such as the many kitchen built-ins, the extra island for food preparation, new appliances and a utilitarian approach to design changes make the home livable.
The wood-burning stove heats the large living area, making it unnecessary to use the home's electric baseboard heating and the heat pump.
"When the sun comes up, it's a beautiful wake-up call," Carol Wilson says. The large open living area is so dominating with its expansive view that the bedrooms can be overlooked. The home has a master bedroom with bath, a guest room and a third bedroom that was converted into a den. All afford views of the bay.