Keeping Its 1907 Spirit


Rowhouse In Old Goucher Area Has Built-ins, Original Icebox

April 19, 2009|By Marie Gullard | Marie Gullard,Special to The Baltimore Sun

Jeanne Knight refers to her 1907 Charles Village row house as "last gasp Victorian," a description that speaks volumes about the neighborhood and its architecture. While the houses immediately to her north are of Arts and Crafts design, hers bears the hallmarks of late Victorian construction.

In 2005, she purchased the two-story brick home in the Old Goucher neighborhood, an area bounded by 22nd and 26th streets and Maryland and Guilford avenues that had once been part of the campus of Goucher College before the school relocated to Towson.

"At that time [when she bought it] these houses were hot items," said Knight, a 52-year-old IT consultant, who paid $235,000 for a house in relatively good condition.

Over the last three years, Knight has spent an additional $50,000 replacing the roof, hot water heater and furnace. She also added a first-floor bathroom and had the original kitchen redone.

In a house where each room contains oak wood built-ins and the flooring is heart pine wood, Knight wanted her kitchen to be bright. In addition to new cabinets, she chose granite countertops and a butcher block-topped island.

Eight-foot-high windows and 10-foot-high ceilings framed in 6-inch molding provide a formal touch to a dining room (with pocket doors) and a living room off of a center foyer, or reception area.

"I use this house the way it was intended to be used," Knight said. "I enjoy the interior rooms as they were designed."

That is to say, rooms not open one to the other, but rather shut off from one another.

The interior style has prompted the purchase of period furnishings that include a crystal chandelier, an 1890 modified Victorian settee, with matching rocker and four side chairs, an oak library table and a 2-foot-by-6-foot beveled mirror over the living room fireplace mantel.

Knight's second floor features built-in closets in each of the four bedrooms. The front bedroom faces west, its pentagonal window bump-out framing the sunset. This is Knight's winter bedroom, while the summer bedroom is in the rear of the second floor, facing east and boasting a walk-out porch.

While much work remains to be done in the house, Jeanne Knight enjoys the journey of renovation, admitting it's not for the fainthearted.

"It's meditation to me, deciding what I'm going to do in any one particular room," she said.

Dream element:: Knight's Charles Village home is one of the many, colloquially referred to as "Painted Ladies." These large row houses are a mix of Victorian design and its newer cousin, Arts and Crafts. Exterior trimming around windows and porch railings, for example, are treated to coats of brightly colored and pastel paints.

Design inspiration: : Knight's house features multiple built-in closets, hutches and cabinets, all crafted of oak. These built-ins not only provide furniture pieces at the ready, but also dictate a particular style of furniture that Knight has purchased, such as a large oak dining table and matching chairs.

Surprise feature: : Knight has retained the home's original icebox. It is built into the far kitchen wall, with an open access from the back porch for the ice delivery that was commonplace at the turn of the century. The icebox is both a conversation piece and utilitarian, used now as a liquor cabinet.

Personal touch: : Knight and two neighbors to her immediate north have removed all of the backyard fencing and are working on common, landscaped gardens.

A lesson learned: : When remodeling her kitchen, Knight chose laminate cabinets in white. She now wishes she had gone for original wood, more in keeping with the natural wood built-ins throughout the home.

Have you found your dream home? Tell us about it. Write to Michelle Deal-Zimmerman, Real Estate Editor, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278 or send e-mail to

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