Three groundhogs slept here


Potential: At first he thought the place a wreck, but she saw the brick Victorian as "my 30-year art project."

February 10, 2002|By Jean Marie Beall | Jean Marie Beall,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

When Laura and Chris Furbay found their dream home, three groundhogs were already living in it.

The groundhogs, however, had an excuse. "The house had been vacant for eight months," she said.

But when the Furbays were able to focus on the Taneytown home, Laura Furbay, who has a degree in art, saw immense potential.

Her husband, on the other hand, saw a wreck. "I didn't like it at first," he said. "I thought it was a mess."

But the house at 332 E. Baltimore St. - Taneytown's main street - met nearly all of the couple's criteria for a perfect home.

A Victorian with a wraparound porch, the house was big enough for the couple's children, Tanner, 3, and Tori, 6, to grow into.

Laura Furbay also wanted the house to be within walking distance of the children's school.

Kids can walk to school

"And the school is literally in our back yard," she said, noting that the elementary and middle schools are behind the home. "My daughter [Tori] will be able to walk to school until she is in ninth grade."

The couple's house search began three years ago, while they were living in Atlanta. Before they moved South - for a change of scenery, they said - the couple spent five years renovating a 900-square-foot home in Finksburg.

The Furbays "knew we weren't going to live in Atlanta forever" and planned to move back to the Baltimore area.

Thus began their search in Carroll County. They missed out on a house in New Windsor and carried their search to Union Bridge and beyond.

"Just about everywhere but Taneytown," she said with a laugh.

She grew up in Taneytown and had a less than favorable impression of the town. "It was just a small rural town that didn't seem to offer a lot," she recalled.

Then they reconsidered. That's when they discovered the red-brick Victorian. "I had known the family who had lived here," she said. "Nine children were raised in this house."

Vacant eight months

The house, built in 1916, has had three or four owners, she said. The previous family had a divorce, and eventually the house was turned into an apartment house. Then it was vacant for eight months.

The Furbays paid $165,000 for the home, which sits on a half acre. They moved in June 1 and immediately began renovating. They have spent approximately $5,000 fixing it up.

Laura Furbay had wanted her dream home to have stained glass, but the Baltimore Street house had none. Stained glass she helped design replaced the Plexiglas in the front door.

She also stripped 13 layers of paint off the woodwork around the front door. The entire house inside was painted white.

"It was like staring at a blank canvas," she recalled. "The first thing I wanted to do was add some color."

White carpet covered the floors, even in the kitchen. When the couple peeled up the carpet from the formal dining room, they found perfectly preserved hardwood floors. The parlor and formal dining room have decorative mantels, but no fireplaces.

The house, with 4,400 square feet over four floors, also has all its original woodwork, including wood blinds on the windows. Most of the windows are 5 feet 9 inches tall with frames about 6-inches in width.

The formal dining room and the parlor have doors with windows above the transoms. Pocket doors divide the parlor from an office.

Wood paneling removed

The Furbays have spent most of their time renovating the kitchen, which had wood-paneled walls.

"When we took out the paneling, there were two layers of wallpaper underneath," Laura Furbay said. "When we peeled that away, there was the brick of the original chimney. That was another criterion. We wanted the interior to have some brick."

The couple replaced the carpet in the kitchen with hardwood floors. They've knocked out a wall between an informal dining room and the kitchen. And they've reduced the number of kitchen cabinets from 47 to 35. A family room sits off the kitchen.

A staircase leads from the kitchen to a cellar workshop, which has a root cellar next to it.

On the second floor are five bedrooms and two full bathrooms. The third floor is an open area that is finished and can serve as an office or recreation room. An attic is above that floor.

"We wanted a house where we wouldn't keep bumping into each other," Laura Furbay said. "It took me a long time to get used to all this space."

Do the Furbays plan to renovate the house and move on to another project?

"We plan on staying here," Laura said. "I call this my 30-year art project."

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