Old Lutherville train station as an abode

DREAM HOME

Depot: A couple bought the building in 1976 and started a long restoration.

September 18, 2005|By Marie Gullard | Marie Gullard,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Barrett Rudd sat in an upholstered wing chair in a kitchen corner of his unusual house as two Siamese cats snoozed together in the chair beside him.

Across the room, a gas stove's black-pipe chimney climbs exactly 10 feet, 3 inches to the ceiling. Behind the stove, cast-iron pots and pans hang from the molding that caps yellow-painted wainscoting on the lower half of the walls. Above the molding, iron trivets are displayed alongside old washboards. A shelf along two walls contains hundreds of antique pottery, glassware, farm lamps and railroad lamps.

The overall effect is a homespun warmth reminiscent of the old television show, The Waltons. "The house has a lot to do with it," Rudd said.

Long and narrow with an overhanging second story, the house was originally the Lutherville train station. Built in 1873 by John Cockey, the two-story limestone building with gingerbread trim served as a station for the Northern Central Railroad. (Cockey sold the land and station to the railroad in 1886.)

A generous 3,200 square feet, the building houses the kitchen, dining room and living room on the first floor. The second floor is the master bedroom, study and two guest rooms.

Rudd, 72, a retired chaplain at Sheppard Pratt, and his wife, Ann, bought the station in 1976 -- long out of operation and in a state of disrepair -- from the defunct Penn Central Railroad in a sealed bid. "We got it for $35,100, which was more money than anyone else wanted to pay for it," Barrett Rudd said.

For their investment, they got the building and a 450-foot-long lot along what is now the light rail line, giving them space for gardens outside as well as ample room inside for antiques collected over 33 years.

But the restoration would take time and patience, especially the downstairs.

"Three front doors were off their hinges, 17 windows were broken, there was no furnace, no water, no gas," said Rudd.

The couple eventually moved into what previously had been an apartment on second level while continuing the restoration. Rudd said he had always enjoyed building things and working with his hands, so he viewed the project as a hobby, one that has cost $175,000 to date. The station got a new roof, air conditioning and furnace. Also included in that amount were three gas stoves, landscaping, and lumber. He built a garage on the far-southern end of the property just beyond what are now formal gardens.

The Rudds pretty much live in the country kitchen, which was once a store and later served as the waiting room. Bright hooked rugs rest on original pine flooring, and two globe lamps hang from the high ceiling. Rudd hand-built 27 oak cabinets, using windows from abandoned Lutherville houses for several of the doors. Only a dishwasher and refrigerator -- both inconspicuously in the wall of cabinetry -- hint at 21st-century technology.

The dining room had been the stationmaster's office, as evidenced by a ticket window that opens onto the kitchen. In the room's center is an 84-inch oval mahogany table. A cherry armoire circa 1890 and a corner cabinet of Southern pine display glassware and earthen pots. The living room was the original waiting room. Now filled with 18th- and 19th-century antiques, its cozy ambience welcomes visitors. A school-bell collection sits on a mantle and fills a barrister's bookcase.

Barrett Rudd built the room's spiral staircase for a second access to the upstairs, where all the dormer-windowed rooms sit on one side of a long hallway.

Outside, a visitor can take in the intricately carved gingerbread trim and landscaped walkways that lead to a garage with cupola. A hedgerow separates the east lawn -- with its old maple trees -- from the tracks, while a weeping willow sways over a garden gnome.

The couple have no plans to leave the peace and pride of their depot by the tracks.

Ann Rudd summed up a contented life: "After 30 years, we still pause now and then and say, `Isn't this nice?'"

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