Riverside home mixes memory and the present


Vision: Ed and Liz Drumgoole built their dream home on land that had always been "a place for family."

June 11, 2000|By Lisa Wiseman | Lisa Wiseman,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Ed and Liz Drumgoole consider themselves lucky to be able to wake up every morning and see the sun rise over the Gunpowder River from their bedroom window in their new home in Oliver Beach.

"The view is just breathtaking," Ed said. On any given day, one can spy egrets or herons swooping overhead. The ducks have made it a regular habit to waddle up the Drumgoole's back deck for a daily snack of bread crumbs, and an Oriole has nested in a nearby tree. "It looks like a paradise every single day," Liz said.

For as long as Liz can remember, this little spot of paradise on the river has been a place of beauty and fond memories. For more than 60 years the property has been in Liz's family. Her grandmother was the original owner. "This has always been a place for family. I've just enjoyed it over the years," she said.

As a child, Liz spent summers playing along the riverbank, having cookouts and swimming in the cool water. Back then, the nearby Hammerman area of Gunpowder Falls State Park was just a farm. Like Liz's family, neighbors in the Oliver Beach waterfront community have held on to their property for generations. "I still know a lot of neighbors. I've watched them grow up, have children," she said.

While many residents of Oliver Beach have built new homes on their waterfront property, as Ed and Liz Drumgoole did almost three years ago, some people prefer to keep their property unchanged through the generations.

Along the waterfront you will find a mixture of older homes, tiny vacation bungalows and bare lots with nothing more than a boat tied to a pier and a chain link fence warning others to keep off the precious private land. For years all that stood on the Drumgoole's property was a building no bigger than a large garage with an efficiency kitchen, a toilet and some cots. "We always planned to build a home here," Ed said. "We figured that sooner or later, we'd get around to it," Liz said.

"Later" wound up to be 28 years. There were a variety of reasons why the Drumgooles took so long to build on the land. The biggest one was the location of the property. Oliver Beach sits on the far eastern part of Baltimore County. Ed worked in Randallstown on the western side of the County.

So the couple lived in Carroll County close to Ed's job. There they raised two sons, watched them grow up and eventually move out. And like many people who see their children leave home and begin to start families of their own, the Drumgooles realized that their home was just too big and empty. It made little sense to hang on to the large house in Carroll County, especially when they owned a prime piece of real estate they had always wanted to build on.

So the couple set out to build the perfect waterfront home.

"We had a lot of limitations on what we could do," Ed said.

They wanted a home that would be relatively maintenance-free and handicapped accessible in case an elderly parent had to move in. The lot is only 50 feet wide, which meant that the house couldn't be any wider than 30 feet.

Eventually the couple found a home style that suited their needs and fit the property's tight specifications. It was just a "footprint for the house" Ed said.

What the Drumgooles wanted more than anything in their new house was a home that may look small from the outside, but felt big on the inside. Large windows throughout the home helped achieve that effect while also highlighting the home's biggest attraction - the fabulous view. Ceilings were raised to create an airy, spacious look and a wall between the living room and kitchen/dining area was eliminated to open up the lower level.

The Drumgooles also had to make some modifications of their own.

"We knew we would have to downsize," Liz said. There was no way everything from their old house would fit into their new house. "I left three living room sets, a desk and a bedroom set at the house," Liz said. "Even our rugs were too large."

Even with moving to a smaller house with less room and furniture, the Drumgooles are very satisfied with how their new home turned out. Some folks have even called it a "mini-mansion" Liz said. They spent more than $300,000 building the home, which was slightly more than they had originally planned but well worth it in the end, Liz said.

Now the home is enjoyed by another generation. The Drumgoole's two grandchildren visit on a regular basis. Once again, the strip of land on the Gunpowder is a place for fond memories.

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