Victorian-era house makes a graceful inn


August 29, 2002|By Lorraine Gingerich | Lorraine Gingerich,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

SITTING ON the porch of their white-and-blue Victorian home in Woodbine, Robyn and Doug Abrams enjoy playing with their cats and listening to the sounds of the nearby river.

The Abramses also share their home as a bed-and-breakfast with guests from around the country and even England. Inn the Hollow, in Carroll County -- just over the Howard County line -- was opened in 1999 after coaxing from family members.

This is not an easy task because the Abramses work full-time jobs.

Doug is manager of a software division in network services, and Robyn is a staff development coordinator in Howard County.

Robyn's grandmother, Genevieve Debus of Lansdowne, was the force behind the B&B idea.

Debus and her two sisters, the late Theresa Johnson, who lived in Ellicott City, and Francis "Babe" Nelson, who also lives in Lansdowne, visited the Abramses on Saturdays and Sundays.

"Doug and I call them `The Girls,'" said Robyn Abrams.

They all enjoyed quiet afternoons together chatting and playing cards. "The Girls, at every visit, suggested we turn our house into a bed-and-breakfast," Robyn said.

In August 1999, that's what they did.

"Grams takes great pride and pleasure in our establishment as a B&B," said Robyn. "She truly gave us the confidence we needed."

The property, which borders the south branch of the Patapsco River and Morgan Run and uses a Woodbine address, was originally built by Albert and Margaret Franklin about 1880.

The Franklins owned and operated a mill across the river from their property. A furnace tower is all that remains of the mill, but eight other structures stand in what the Abramses refer to as "the hollow." The buildings, now homes, were originally built as tenement houses, a general store, a post office and a bank.

"The original owner built some or all for his employees," said Robyn Abrams. "The house next to us, we believe, served many purposes through the years, such as a store and gas station."

The Abramses purchased the house in 1989 and renovated it themselves from 1996 to 1998. "We did quite a bit of work," she said.

They restored a heavy, old claw-foot tub and removed four to five layers of wallpaper in the dining room. "We found all kinds of things that people have covered up," Robyn said.

The Abramses run their B&B for fun and profit. "Our original intent was to get something in place to augment retirement," said Robyn. "For now, it's dovetailing the customers' needs with our work schedule."

After a quiet night's sleep, guests can enjoy breakfast or just sitting and relaxing on the large, wrap-around porch in a country setting.

Paths and benches throughout the landscaped hillside estate await visitors who venture outside.

The Abramses say friends and relatives stay at their establishment, as well as people who simply want a quiet country stay. "We have had guests from as far as Britain," said Robyn.

Great-Aunt Theresa passed away in January, and Debus is soon moving into an assisted-living facility, but Robyn Abrams fondly remembers their weekend visits.

She credits her grandmother and her sisters for giving them the courage to put their plan in motion. "They were very inspirational," she said.

Information about Inn the Hollow: 410-795-6374.

Monkey business

Colleen Layton of Frisky's Wildlife and Primate Sanctuary in Woodstock was a guest on The Pet Psychic on the Animal Planet network last month. In May, pet psychic Sonya Fitzpatrick visited her shelter to communicate with several of the monkeys.

Layton suggested she visit with Oogie, who had been throwing rice, vegetables and spaghetti on some male visitors. Layton wanted to know why. After communicating with the monkey, Fitzpatrick said that Oogie told her a man had assaulted the monkey.

Layton recalled that a man hit the side of Oogie's cage with a package he was carrying. As the man toured the center, Oogie reached for him.

"She reached for him with her tail, and he whacked her cage with a package," Layton said. "She was very upset about that."

Fitzpatrick also communicated with several other monkeys, but the meeting with Oogie was the only one that aired on the July 29 show. Layton said that she was pleased with the broadcast, except for one part.

"They showed the front door," she said. Unfortunately, Frisky's phone number was displayed on the door. "I had calls from all over," Layton said.

Most of the callers wanted to know how to get in touch with Animal Planet or how to adopt a pet monkey.

Layton believes that monkeys are not pets. "Real people don't own monkeys," she said.

Glenelg band memories

The Glenelg Band Alumni continue to collect stories for their Memory Book -- 25 years with Barry Enzman and the Glenelg High School Band.

"Our current plans are to have the memory book ready for the dedication of the new Glenelg music suite in December 2002," said Mike Bostron, memory book chairman.

Send your memories, along with your name, street and e-mail addresses and the years you were in the band to GlenelgBand25yrs@hotmail. com or Glenelg Band 25 Year Celebration, 14025 Burnt Woods Road, Glenelg 21737.

Information: Mike Bostron, 410-489-4059, or Ellen Nibali, 410-531-5038.

Fall ball

Howard County boys ages 14 and younger have the opportunity to join a travel team to play fall baseball.

Maury Marshall says the team is independent and is co-sponsored by Ellicott City Athletic Association and Glenelg Youth Sports Association.

The age-determination date is Aug. 1, 2003.

Information: 443-474-3952.

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