Updated classic

DREAM HOME

1940 showcase house remains an endearing rural retreat

June 27, 2008|By Cindy Stacy | Cindy Stacy,Special to The Sun

When Camilla and David Rawe bought their five-bedroom, two-story brick home in Garrett County's Grantsville in 1986, they had five of their six children and were in the market for a spacious house, convenient to David Rawe's veterinary practice, schools and parks.

Years later, the family discovered they owned a vintage classic built by Harvey Gortner in 1940, using plans from one of 15 showcase homes at the 1939 New York World's Fair.

Designed by architect Perry M. Duncan, the World's Fair house was dubbed a "fire-safe home" for its solid construction and use of materials such as glass-block panels and metal insulation. The architect's aim was to create "a dignified and livable house without pretensions," according to historical information about the house and the fair's "Town of Tomorrow" exhibit.

The Rawes' dwelling, with its mansard roof, black shutters and attached garage, sits on four landscaped acres on a hill overlooking town. A former shuffleboard court is now a walkway, and a swimming pool was filled in because it was cracked and "the dog almost drowned in it," recalled David Rawe, 57.

"I never found any metal insulation in our house," said the veterinarian, who has done much of the home's updating and improvement work. The couple has left intact light-filtering glass-block panels between some rooms and glass bathroom tiles, which were used instead of ceramic tiles, in all bath areas except the master shower. Six shower heads in the master bath - today a popular upscale plumbing fixture - were removed along with the glass tiles there. "They started to leak, so we took them out," said Camilla Rawe, 56.

The couple purchased the 3,200-square-foot house for $87,000 and estimate they have spent another $80,000 to $90,000 on improvements and remodeling, tackling many projects themselves. Shortly after they moved into the house, the Rawes ripped up wall-to-wall carpeting, and David Rawe refinished all the hardwood floors.

With a rural veterinary practice that early on required 12-hour days, he worked "evenings and weekends" to do the floors.

The Rawes also remodeled a sun porch off a formal dining room by replacing steel-framed casement windows with double-hung wood windows and an acoustical-tile ceiling with tongue-and-groove maple. Above this room, they enclosed a master bedroom deck to eliminate drifting snow, which accumulated there in the winter. "It just wasn't a practical design for Garrett County," Camilla Rawe said.

With a fishing motif, the first-floor sunroom is furnished with Amish-made hickory furniture. And most all of it - including six chairs, a double chair, table, children's rocker, end tables and a television stand - was given to David Rawe in lieu of payment for veterinary services.

He and two other veterinarians operate Casselman Veterinary Services, which specializes in dairy cows and dairy production management for farms in Garrett County and nearby Pennsylvania.

Since buying the house, he said, "We've redone the dining room twice, and I'm still debating whether to install a mantel above the living room fireplace." The fireplace is part of a recessed wall with a lighting fixture tucked beneath half-round and fluted crown molding, which is an elegant feature in every room of the house.

Duplicating the unusual molding for a recent kitchen renovation proved to "the most difficult" part of the job, said Doug Klotz, whom the Rawes hired to gut and remodel their original kitchen. To help a local woodworking company make new crown molding for the kitchen, Klotz said he removed molding inside a closet to create a template for the kitchen trim.

In addition to busy jobs as director of religious studies for two local Catholic parishes and working at the animal clinic, Camilla Rawe "loves to cook." Her venue is the spectacular new kitchen, complete with a pot-filler faucet, a dual-fuel, dual-oven stainless steel range and her "must-have" island with a vegetable sink and under-the-counter rolling trays that hold produce baskets.

"It took a long time to plan," David Rawe said of the kitchen re-do. "We watched a lot of HGTV before we started."

Klotz installed KraftMaid cherry cabinets and engineered quartz countertops in a color called ebony pearl. Finding a complementary black farm sink required an Internet search.

The couple followed a "we're only going to do this once" approach to the kitchen project, and the attention to details and planning is evident throughout. Each sink has a garbage disposal, full-length cherry doors conceal a pantry with multiple, movable shelves, and a matching cherry desk provides a convenient computer/work station.

A half-circular, brass-railed staircase sweeps from the entry foyer - large enough to hold the family's piano - to a second floor of five bedrooms. Framed portraits of the Rawes' grown two daughters and four sons line the flight of stairs.

"The kids love the house and don't want us to ever sell it," said their mother.

Particularly fond of the stately home is son Nathan Rawe, who works in Baltimore and has researched the house's history. He describes it as "a house with which all of us as a family have fallen in love."

The parents agree, of course, but they now look forward to some time alone.

"We want to live in the big house without the kids for a while," said Camilla Rawe.

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