Worth waiting for

Howard County: A 270-year-old home that neighbors fought turns into a thing of beauty.

July 25, 2000

BRUNO REICH'S stone cottage was built two years before Benjamin Franklin began publishing Poor Richard's Almanack. That should have been enough to impress his Columbia neighbors.

It wasn't.

The community looked past the home's place in time and to the stone, wood and brick that cluttered Mr. Reich's property year after year -- 20 years in all as he plugged away at the job.

The vigilant Columbia Association sued him in 1994. Three years later, the Wilde Lake architectural committee cited him for failing to maintain his property.

When we visited the house in 1997, we thought everyone needed to back off Mr. Reich as he pursued his dream of restoring a piece of history in the new town.

Good thing they did.

Mr. Reich, construction crews and hundreds of thousands of dollars have made the house a thing of beauty. The stone faM-gade, gables, mahogany window frames and brick walkway bring charm and character to a neighborhood that could use some.

We think Columbia is right to enforce its covenants. Nobody forces homeowners to sign the agreements. But if there's an exception to every rule, surely one must be granted to a home that predates the Revolutionary War by nearly a half-century.

Now that the home is finished -- save for a few minor details -- the neighbors aren't complaining. They apparently like the way things have turned out. The CA suit has been resolved. Mr. Reich's home starred in a 13-part cable television series "Dream House."

The only complaints these days come from the Reich household. Mr. Reich has added a wife, Melinda, and baby, Anna, to his family in recent years. Melinda Reich loves the finished product but says the 1,000 square feet of living space in the old home won't be enough for the young family.

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