Fit for royalty

DREAM HOME

Art collection includes tribute to Duchess of Windsor

November 15, 2008|By Marie Gullard | Marie Gullard,Special to The Baltimore Sun

Those who never had the pleasure of dining at Haussner's in East Baltimore missed the experience of fine German cuisine in the company of a vast collection of artwork. Original paintings in gilt frames filled almost every inch of the walls while marble busts on pedestals were close enough to the tables to be silent dinner partners. All of these works were from the Haussner family's private collection.

A similar display can be found in the Mount Vernon home of Phil Baty and Ron Peltzer.

"We aggressively collect," said Baty of an obsession he has had since college and still indulges in with his partner. "I've got over 300 paintings and sculptures in this house."

This does not include boxes of frames and canvasses stored in the home, sitting rooms filled with Louis XIV, XV and XVI furniture and a basement museum dedicated to a Baltimore woman who changed the course of British history in 1936.

The two men bought their 4,000-square-foot home 11 years ago for less than $100,000. It sits just a few doors west of where the Duchess of Windsor grew up. Built in 1885, the design of their home, masked in part by a poor restoration job, was clearly Second Empire in style.

Their "stuff," as Baty referred to the treasures, had found a home. An extensive restoration, which includes living room, dining room, kitchen and two more stories of bedrooms and sitting rooms, is a continuing project, but one that gives the retired Baty endless hours of enjoyment.

The bulk of the paintings' subjects are portraits, which include two of Wallis Warfield Simpson, "that woman!" as the late Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother reportedly called her for marrying Edward VIII, resulting in his abdication of the British throne.

A second-floor sitting room, referred to as the Asian Room, contains several Chinese embroideries on silk, hung on walls painted a light shade of aqua that's accented by aqua glass in the transoms over the windows.

The walls of the master bedroom are graced with Rembrandt and Renoir etchings.

The home's kitchen is "chateauesque," designed with river rock paint over brick to simulate castle walls. Large tapestries are hung here, along with plaster body molds. Gothic lamps, like those in free-fall from the shadows in a cathedral, swoop down from the 11-foot ceiling.

"We photographed walls and furniture all over Paris to get our ideas," said Baty.

They are not overly protective of their treasures, however.

"I want everything in the house to be used," Baty said.

"And sat on," he added, indicating an exact replica of a gondola chair at La Malmaison hotel in Nice, France.

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

making the house their own

* Great collectors of Duchess of Windsor memorabilia, Baty and Peltzer have turned their above-ground basement into a museum, complete with newspaper clippings, replicas of her jewelry, books written about her, dress patterns she endorsed and a pair of white gloves she owned.

* To stay consistent with the Second Empire theme of the house, the two men found wallpaper close to that of the era and flowery border paper to place along the periphery of a tray ceiling in the living room.

* A sloped interior ceiling under the mansard roof of the master bedroom has been used as a backdrop to artwork hung on an angle.

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