A stone landmark to prayer


Help: The Oultons wanted the house, but the oldest building in Taneytown was already under contract. That is, until she prayed.

September 02, 2001|By Jean Marie Beall | Jean Marie Beall,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Julie Oulton had always wanted to live in a stone house. Always.

Nearly three years ago, she and her husband, Carl, asked their real estate agent to give them a list of stone houses for sale in Carroll County that were priced from $100,000 to $150,000.

"We couldn't find any in our price range," she recalled. "So, we decided to look at other houses."

On the way back from looking at a house, Carl Oulton spotted a for-sale sign in the window of a stone house at 5 Frederick St. in Taneytown. They stopped and looked at the outside.

"Then I peeked inside and saw that front staircase and I knew I had to have that house," she said, even though it would probably exceed their price range.

But after their agent was able to get them into the house that night, the couple learned the house was already under contract to another buyer.

"That night I couldn't sleep," she said. "I was just praying to God, `Hey, you just have to let me have this house.' "

God must have heard her prayer, for the next day the other buyer withdrew his contract.

Not only that but the house was listed for $99,900, below their price range. That would explain why it never came up on their search. The final purchase price was $104,000.

The stone house, built in 1760, is the oldest in Taneytown, but it wasn't always a house.

The Oultons' home was part of the original building, which over time was known as Elliott House and Livery and the Old Stone Tavern.

The northernmost portion of the building was demolished in the early 20th century and replaced by an adjoining brick structure, which now contains the Oultons' Irish Moon coffeehouse.

The Oultons' house has three bedrooms, kitchen, living room, entry room and several smaller rooms. The 3,200-square-foot house also has five stone fireplaces. The floors are random width planks, and the ceilings rise up 9 feet.

"We don't have a lot of rooms, but the rooms are huge," she said, with one bedroom measuring 18 by 25 feet.

She credits the home's current condition to its previous owner, Taneytown resident Sam Perry. Before he bought it, the property had been divided into two townhouses, she said.

"He restored the house [into one]," she said. "He took up the floors, redid them, and put them back down. Everything had to be taken out by hand, because you can't put a dumpster in front of the house and you can't get one in at the back of the house."

During his restoration work, Perry found old items in the walls. Some are letters dating back to the 1800s, small jars and a piece of the sign from the original livery.

"He gave all that to us," she said.

Her husband put the items in a glass case that now hangs from the wall in the entry room. A spiral staircase, with the first two steps nearly 12 inches high, leads to the master bedroom.

A hallway leads to the second-floor bathroom, which has the only original window from the 1760s. The bathroom, kitchen and office were installed in the 1920s.

The Oultons spent about $11,000 renovating an upstairs room and installing three fireplace gas heaters. On the left side of the entry room is the living room, where another staircase leads to two other upstairs bedrooms. The wooden staircase has a carved overlay with a tulip design.

Carl Oulton loves the home's construction as well as its history. "This house has character," he said. "It's made out of wood and stone, not plastic." When he was doing some work, he discovered the initials J. D. and the date 1863 carved in a wall. He also discovered items that looked like they would be a doctor's.

"The house had been a hotel at one time," said Carl Oulton, who figures J.D. was probably a Civil War soldier because of the 1863 date and because the hotel was used to house soldiers.

From the second story, a spiral staircase leads to a very large attic with stone walls that have not changed since the late 1700s.

"We know this from the way the stones have been painted to resemble cut stone. This practice had been in existence during the time to mimic the `more expensive' cut stone homes," she said.

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