Gem On The Waterfront


Tour To Highlight St. Mary County Colonial's Delightful Touches

Dream Home

Maryland House And Garden Pilgrimage

April 26, 2009|By Marie Gullard | Marie Gullard,Special to The Baltimore Sun

A winding road narrows in St. Mary's County toward the tip of a peninsula. Here, a partially hidden entrance with a sign that reads "St. Marie's" heralds the home of Loretta "Tiny" and Francis Taylor.

It is an enchanted, short ride up the driveway, which is bounded on both sides by verdant lawns, toward the main Georgian-style house. Against its white siding and three tall columns of its portico, myriad flowers and blossoming trees burst forth in colors both pale and bold. A brick walk leads to the home's front door, providing the first, brief glance of water before entering the interior foyer.

"We didn't know a lot of things about the house when we bought it," Tiny Taylor said of the property the couple purchased in 1959 when the house was 40 years old. Since that time, the Taylors have renovated in a grand way. They insulated and replaced the original stucco exterior with white vinyl siding, installed a new heating system, repaired the interior plaster work, updated molding, and painted and wallpapered the rooms. The only structural additions they undertook were building brick entrances, a brick patio and a sunroom.

Now, Taylor, who raised six children in the home, is preparing for the Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage, which will feature the couple's house on the Saturday tour.

The house faces west, and the sunsets over the water are beautiful, says Tiny Taylor. The views meant the sunroom off the living room's wall of windows had to be spectacular as well, and it does not disappoint. Its floor-to-ceiling, multipaned windows frame an expansive side lawn filled with magnolia trees, azaleas and boxwood. A door on the sunroom's south side opens onto a patio; an additional door opens toward the water and pier.

A favorite room of Taylor's is the formal dining room. Two built-in corner cabinets are of Georgian design and flank windows draped in pleated gold-colored silk. A nine-candle crystal chandelier hangs from a plaster ceiling medallion, casting light onto a mahogany dining table that seats 12.

Many treasures fill the two-story home, including paintings by local artists; a collection of Lladro porcelain figurines on the living room's mantel; a 19th-century bonnet-topped secretary; and a drop-leaf secretary dating to 1760.

On the south side of the driveway, Taylor points out the two-bedroom guest house she and her husband built for the time they could no longer live in the big house.

That moment isn't in any immediate plans, however. Taylor hopes there will be many years to come in her grand Colonial.

"We'll stay as long as we're able to live here," she said.

Dream element: : The land. The large Georgian-style home sits on 3 1/2 beautifully landscaped acres on the St. Mary's River, providing phenomenal views of the water and buildings of its nearest neighbor, St. Mary's College.

Design inspiration: : The home almost dictates traditional decor, which Taylor has chosen. Furnishings include a few 18th- and 19th-century pieces that fit pleasingly into rooms wallpapered in Colonial floral design.

Surprise feature: : One of two large doors from the formal dining room to the kitchen has been converted into a floor-to-ceiling niche with mirror backing and glass shelves that display crystal and family heirlooms.

Personal touch: : Taylor enjoys fresh flower arrangements and has at least one large display in every room. She picks the flowers from her gardens filled with daffodils, apple blossom, Bells of Ireland and Fuji mums.

if you go

The annual Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage features home tours in different regions of the state. The event includes more than 50 noteworthy properties. Tickets are $30 when purchased online or in advance and $35 on the day of a tour. Each tour requires a separate ticket. Proceeds support preservation projects. The tour's schedule:

Saturday: St. Mary's County

May 3: Harford County

May 9: Baltimore: Homeland

May 16: Anne Arundel County: Bay Ridge

May 17: Baltimore County: Western Run and Worthington valleys

For more information, go to or call 410-821-6933.

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