Dream home: A labor of love

Carroll County couple forged house from a building and general store that dates to 1810

February 21, 2010|By Marie Gullard | Special to The Baltimore Sun

One of the first things a visitor will notice upon entering the Vincents' 4,000-square foot home, constructed variously in the early- to mid-19th century, is the flooring.

Several different widths of planks are placed in assorted directions, sometimes in the same room, and are of different woods. Pine floors cover the kitchen and general store wing dating from 1858, while chestnut boards creak underfoot in the original 1810 structure. The second story has areas of painted pine floors.

The floor underfoot is just one attraction of the brick-over-log home where masses of colored quilts are folded in corner cupboards, forged iron lamps, wreaths and towel bars decorate each room and where a wide, flat-screen television in the family room is concealed behind a door in a nook of bead board.

Blacksmith Nick Vincent, 58, and his wife, Chris, a 57-year-old reading specialist for Carroll County schools, bought the home in 1986 for $140,000. While it was in fairly good condition at the time, they estimate that during the past 24 years, at least that amount has been spent on renovations, including an enclosed porch, a new kitchen, furnace and central air conditioning. The home's garage was turned into Nick's forge.

The spacious kitchen in the rear of what was once a general store features cherry wood cabinets with forged rattail hinges, granite countertops and wooden blinds at every window. The effect is one of richness and warmth. The Vincents have some stories to tell about the renovation.

"When we pulled up some pine flooring in the kitchen, we found a Baltimore Sun from 1940 with a headline that read. ‘Hitler invades France,'" Nick Vincent said. "After the work, [we placed] a paper with [the headline] ‘Clinton acquitted!'"

The Vincents left the front section of the general store intact, creating a facsimile of a quieter, less complicated time. Chris Vincent bought several old tins and accessories for the store's shelves and filled a glass-enclosed counter with dozens of pewter ice cream molds that belonged to her grandfather, who ran Doebereiner's Bakery in Baltimore.

Over in the original house, circa 1810, the Vincents have decorated in the traditional Williamsburg style of camelback sofa and wing chairs. A reproduction highboy shares the room with an authentic tiger maple chest.

"I grew up with the Williamsburg style," said Chris Vincent, whose father was a cabinetmaker.

The master bedroom mahogany suite as well as the 10-foot-long poplar desk in the guest room were made by her father.

Sitting in the enclosed, heated sunroom, with brick flooring laid in a herringbone pattern, the Vincents speak of their home as though it were a relative.

"I love being in a house that has a history of its own," Chris Vincent said.

Her husband agrees, adding, "This is a house that's lived a lot."

Making a dream home

Dream element: The Vincents' two-story home sits on the main street of Uniontown, Carroll County, an area that encompasses the Uniontown Historic District, which was founded at the turn of the 19th century and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. The original part of the colonial home was built in 1810 with brick fronting over log. A general store was added alongside the home in 1858. Various additions to the back of the house were constructed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The stately home, on a half-acre, is one of many on the street that date to the mid- and late-19th centuries.

Design inspiration: "Much of what we have is from people we do craft shows with," said Chris Vincent, whose husband, a professional blacksmith and owner of Nathan's Forge Ltd. exhibits all through the year with craftsmen at fairs and festivals. The Vincents contacts are legion, as are their purchases from them. A few examples are a colonial-style table and red ware pottery in the kitchen.

Personal touch: The Vincents hired artist Dale Thatcher to paint the walls of the main hall and stairway with his murals of houses and pasture done in the style of New England folk artist Rufus Porter. The mural adds warmth to the home and a feel of Colonial presence.

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