House makes room for style

Makeover: After months of effort, interior designers unveil their work at New Windsor's historic Atlee House.

April 28, 2002|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,SUN STAFF

The Asian/African elephant theme in the sitting/guest room of Atlee House at first seems out of character for an early 1800s country home in rural New Windsor, until you hear about the original owner.

"I was kind of worried about the theme," admitted Corrine Zwiselsberger, who designed the room. "But then I heard wild and crazy stories about Isaac Atlee being a tavern owner and I figured he would have heard stories about exotic places, so I went with the adventure theme."

Zwiselsberger was one of 18 local and regional interior decorators who swarmed over the two-story house the last several months to turn it into a designer show house for the Historical Society of Carroll County. The house was built in 1800 by Isaac R. Atlee, founder of New Windsor.

Friday night, the historical society held a preview party and reception for the completed house. Almost 400 guests enjoyed drinks and hors d'oeuvres and walked through the house and gardens that sit at the bottom of a hill on Water Street.

The designer show house is the first such fund-raiser for the historical society and appears to be a success. Keith R. Bryan, director of development for the society, said Friday was a sellout and 500 advance tour tickets have been sold, including nine tours, seven with catered lunches.

"The majority of tickets will be sold at the door," Bryan said. "We're doing a very aggressive ad campaign to promote it."

Michael Walsch, chairman of the board of trustees for the historical society, noted that Atlee, with his tavern, spring house and bath house, made New Windsor a travel destination, and today the society hopes to do that again with his designer show house.

Most of the house has an old-world feel and theme, from the beautifully handpainted and stenciled dining room floor to the faux-painted log cabin-look on the back porch. Colonial samplers hang on the wall of the guest bedroom, while the morning porch, set for tea, has the homey smell of a grandmother's farmhouse.

The ladies' front parlor is decorated with blue-and-white ceramics. The kitchen features figurines ranging from cats to cows. A curtained four-poster bed is the focal point of the master bedroom. The upstairs hall features murals of the New Windsor countryside in full summer.

Many of the accessories used to decorate the house are for sale from the designers. A gift shop in the house is stocked with items.

Owners Terry and Michael Wiley gladly turned the house over to the Historical Society for the makeover. The couple and their 5-year-old daughter are living in an apartment at the Brethren Center for the next month of the tour.

"It was five apartments before, very bad, highly neglected, the whole building was very dilapidated, very close to not being salvageable," Terry Wiley said. "I think it's wonderful to be able to save it for future generations. I think it's gorgeous."

Atlee House, at 120 Water St., is open for tours from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday until May 26. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door; children younger than 10 are admitted free. No strollers or high heels. The house is not handicapped accessible. Information: 410- 848-6494.

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