For most of her 58 years, Gail Amalia Katz has called home her beloved, center-hall Colonial in Baltimore's Mount Washington neighborhood.
Katz was a child when her parents purchased the circa-1922 home near Pimlico Race Course in 1957.
"These homes were built as summer cottages," she said. "There was no insulation, lots of tall trees, and [the houses were] away from the asphalt."
Katz lived there until she went off to college and then married. Seven years later, in 1977, her parents decided to move to smaller quarters and offered the house to her and her husband, dentist Lee Katz.
The couple paid $65,000 for the now 3,400-square-foot, three-story home. Additions and upgrades were made gradually and continued through the years.
The couple estimate they've spent more than $100,000 on improvements that include a rear kitchen addition, a den converted from a side porch and electrical upgrades.
The striking 350-square-foot kitchen was designed by Lee Katz and completed in 1986. A model of modern efficiency with a retro 1950s feel, the room is flooded with daylight from two glass panels installed in the ceiling.
White laminate cabinets are topped by Corian countertops and a center cook island is covered in navy-blue tiles. Her love of navy blue is evident in one wall painted in that shade, as well as a few tiles in navy placed among the predominantly white ceramic tile floor.
"Our house is defined by Lee's photos," said Gail Amalia Katz, who is vice president of patient resources for the South Atlantic Division of the American Cancer Society.
Lee Katz's photographs, mostly affixed to corkboard, adorn walls in every room. His subjects vary from landscapes and portraits to buildings, architecture being of particular interest to him.
The marble-floored center hallway opens onto a living room on the home's west side and a dining room on the east side. Covered porches were attached to both rooms at one time. Now, the porch off the living room is a long, narrow den that shares a two-sided fireplace that warms both rooms.
The living room's pine floors and white built-in cabinetry and trim work contrast with walls painted navy. Round mahogany tables and covered radiators hold framed family portraits. Above the fireplace is a portrait of Lee Katz's great-great-grandfather, painted in 1870.
The Katzes refer to the dining room as the "Baltimore Artist Room" for its two imposing landscapes by the Baltimore artist Eugene W. Leake. The room also contains a Chagall lithograph.
The home's second floor has three bedrooms and two baths. The master bedroom is painted soft gray and furnished with the couple's first bedroom suite, of Scandinavian design. Honeymoon photos from Italy grace the walls along with photographs of the couple's two grown children.
A sloping third level has spare bedroom and play area for visits from the children and the Katzes' granddaughter.
Standing at the staircase landing between second and third levels, Gail Amalia Katz stares out a window and muses, "I have no sense of direction, but I do have a homing instinct."
Her desire never to leave the Colonial nestled among the tall trees gives her remark credence.
"Besides," she said, "the steps keep you healthy."
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