Couple live country life on Main St.

Burkittsville: A 200-year-old house in a town of fewer than 200 residents proves an oasis for a pair of Washington commuters.

Dream Home

November 09, 2003|By Rebecca Boreczky | Rebecca Boreczky,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Jayme Marshall and Myles Doherty love living between the cornfields of Frederick County and the mountains of West Virginia.

Their home, more than 200 years old, sits along Main Street in Burkittsville. The town has 192 residents and is a country oasis for several Washington commuters, including Marshall and Doherty.

The couple moved here six years ago, purchasing the Federal-style home for $177,000. Two years of renovations have cost them about $50,000.

The 2,800-square-foot house is decorated with an eclectic mix of antiques and modern furniture. Its 9-foot ceilings give it a sense of openness. The couple regularly use extensions of the house: the glass-enclosed porch, a large brick patio, a spring house, a potting shed and a barn.

"I never get tired of an old home," Doherty said. "They are so unique and a great mix of natural designs."

The original brick home was built during the 1790s. That space now contains the first-floor living room, the downstairs bathroom, the second-floor guest bedroom and the attic. In 1820, the house was expanded to include what is now the kitchen, first- and second-floor porches and the upstairs master bedroom and bathroom.

Distinctive details can be found throughout the home. The kitchen and guest bedroom have virgin pine flooring consisting of random-width boards cut from the hearts of pine trees. Their varied sizes make for an interesting pattern, and they are secured by wooden pegs.

The home's main support system consists of two large tree trunks that serve as beams in the cellar, which the couple use for storage.

The house has three wood-burning, brick fireplaces. The grandest of the three is centered on the kitchen's back wall, which is covered with brick. The other fireplaces are in the living room and master bedroom.

The house does not have a dining room. Marshall likes to use the first-floor porch as a summer dining area. Another porch, on the second level, holds a special place in her heart. It looks down over vegetable and flower gardens, fruit trees, the spring house, a brook, the barn and a cornfield.

"I think of this porch as our summer home," Marshall said. "We love the smells of the country, a different smell for every season."

A long stairway with scalloped wood trim along the sides of the steps leads to the second floor. Upstairs, the master bedroom's door has multigrain stains, a technique from the 1800s in which different paint brushes were used to create various patterns. The master bedroom has three windows with 2-foot window wells.

The couple have studied the home's history by piecing together information from property records, history books and news clippings. During the Civil War, the house served as a small hospital.

"One of the great things about living in this old home is the history," Doherty said. "Imagine you are living where people were born and died. This is where wounded soldiers came to recover or die during the Civil War."

The couple have done their best to showcase the home's history by including reproduction period pieces, including bathtubs, sinks and lanterns. The guest bedroom includes floorboards from an 1820s-era home that was being renovated across the street.

Marshall and Doherty said the kitchen floor includes virgin pine boards from a former reception hall that was torn down at a state prison in Hagerstown during the 1970s.

Restoration plans for the house include converting half of the attic into a walk-in closet. The home has one closet now. And Doherty is hoping to turn the spring house into a jewelry design studio for his wife's hobby. The barn at the back of the property will be refinished for use as storage.

"With an old home you are always doing something," Doherty said. The couple like to entertain often and said the house is well designed for parties.

"The house is very welcoming and comfortable," said Burkittsville Mayor Heidi Campbellshoaf, who has attended parties with up to 150 guests at the house.

"The house has such a nice flow to it," she said. "You went from one room to the next in a continuing flow. The second-floor porch has the most beautiful country view."

Marshall and Doherty have no plans to move soon.

"Three women who grew up in this home knocked on the door and asked if they could come in and see where they had played as children," Marshall said. "As we took them around our home they told us stories of their life when they lived here.

"I feel safe with a home on Main Street. You are in the country but not isolated."

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