Ex-stable is her house

Dream Home

Converted 1800s building gives Sharon Price an income and a roof over her head

Real Estate

January 26, 2007|By Marie Gullard | Marie Gullard,Special to The Sun

Sharon Price's home in the mill section of Hampden consists of just two rooms. Many will say, however, that the "grand tour" is a trip well worth taking.

In 1982, Price bought the two-story burned-out stable, which dated from the early 1800s and was once part of Mount Vernon Mills.

"The entire downstairs was under water," she remembered of the building, also called a "bank barn" because it was built into a hillside, with a back entrance at the second level.

Price paid $47,500 for her stable overlooking the Jones Falls. At the time it was more than twice what she could afford. A city loan got her started in the dwelling, which lacked a roof, a front door and hot water.

She moved in with a Coleman stove and four electric radiators. To make it the comfortable house it is today, she pumped another $147,000 into new windows, doors, floors, air conditioning, heating, electric and plumbing.

Sitting on a third of an acre, the brick building looks more like a warehouse or church hall than a private residence. Double garage doors open onto one large room on the second floor. In the center of the 40-foot-by-35-foot room are two cars, a Citroen and a Morgan roadster. The walls are lined with oil paintings, mostly of race cars, and most quite large. A lighted model of a monoplane hangs from the ceiling.

The room performs double duty. It is the art studio for Price's friend and tenant, Bill Burrows. But approximately 40 times a year, the cars are moved and Price rents the space for weddings, meetings and social events. This, along with leasing the downstairs to two separate businesses, constitutes her income.

Her living quarters are on the second floor at the end of a short hall. Its dimensions are identical to the first room - 40 feet by 35 feet. But here, in this great open space, is home.

"There was no deliberate plan," Price says of furnishings placed in small groupings under the chestnut beams of a gabled roof. A pitched ceiling, 16 feet high at its center, features rectangular skylights for added illumination onto walls filled with shadowboxes, paintings, strung Christmas lights, and framed posters.

One of Price's favorite posters in the "living room" area is a drawing of a genie named Alexander whose gaze is drawn to a crystal ball in his grasp. The room contains wicker furniture and a sofa upholstered in bright geometric shapes and colorful squiggles.

"I actually had a couple marry in front of that poster," Price laughed.

Bill Burrows also has painted intricate canvas rugs for the floors. The most unusual of these is a long runner he has placed on the floor of the kitchen. Covered with diamond shapes in red, aqua and orange, it sprawls almost 22 feet across the length of one full wall to a commercial Lacanche stove, complete with seven burners, two ovens, a proof oven and two broilers.

A bedroom and bathroom have been partitioned off at the back of the room. The walls of these partitions are topped with molding; triple, multipaned French doors access the bedroom. Soft lighting there, a colorful quilt and photographs on the walls create a cozy effect.

Maintaining two large rooms and outside gardens is a joy for Sharon Price: "This is the first house I've ever owned. I've crawled through, worked on, and scraped off every square inch of it."

Have you found your dream home? Tell us about it. Write to Dream Home, Real Estate Editor, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278, or e-mail us at real.estate@baltsun.com.

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