Habitat House of the Week: Spring into History at 108 Spring Street

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Part of my job that I love is being an architectural “sleuth” when it comes to writing about Chestertown’s rich architectural heritage. This home was remarkably owned by several generations of the Eliason family for 120 years. Built in 1876 by local craftsman builder A. H. Rockwell, the house reflects the High Victorian period of interior design. Many original interior finishes remain-the beautiful yellow pine hardwood floors; the handmade walnut stair balustrade and bookcase. There are also two working wood burning fireplaces and one gas fireplace in the library which are the focal points of each room. The first-floor guest suite was the original “Summer Kitchen” and the some of the original brick hearth flooring remains.

When Walker Eliason and his family moved into the home in 1976, they added the spacious kitchen and adjacent porch. The next owners of the house were the Parkers, an alumnus of Washington College, and professor who retired from his last teaching post in NY state. Like many people who are drawn back to Chestertown, he and his wife bought this house and were the proprietors of a B&B for nine years. One of Mrs. Parker’s hobbies was making grape jelly for guests from the Concord grapes on the property’s arbors.

The last and current owners, the Cochrans, extensively renovated the house, beginning with the kitchen which was transformed into a dream kitchen with a cozy breakfast nook. Doorways between rooms were widened for better flow and a wall was removed on the second floor to create a sumptuous master suite.

The Cochrans then turned their discriminating eyes to the landscape. They added an outdoor kitchen with a fireplace to warm early fall evenings. The structure of the original grape arbors were replaced with pressure-treated lumber for durability. New brick columns between an iron gate in the fence around the perimeter of the rear yard and new cypress trees assured privacy and security. Flowering trees and plants including crepe myrtle and magnolia trees, hydrangeas, and climbing flowers like clematis and roses added fragrance and color to the landscape. Their finishing touch was the addition of the ubiquitous white picket fence and arbor to mark the front walkway to the house.

I loved the symmetry of the front elevation with the center front door between a pair of windows on each side. The window arrangement was repeated on the second floor with a single window above the door. The composition was completed by the three dormer windows in the roof. I liked how the front door was first framed by the fence’s arbor and then the front porch with its roofline broken by a slight roof gable to mark the door. The blue color of the front door was extended to the wicker furniture grouping on the porch. The most dramatic architectural detail was the spiral stair that connected the three floors.

Having worked at a B&B on summer, I was envious of the huge kitchen and the Viking double oven range unit. What a pleasure it must be to cook in such fantastic surroundings! The nook with its double windows on two sides would be the perfect place for breakfast. A truly remarkable house with such a unique history that has been loved by several families-I hope the next family continues to cherish it.

 

 

For more information about this property contact Mary Fielding with Coldwell Banker Chesapeake Real Estate Company at 410-778-0330 (o), 410-708-4852 (c) , or mfielding@cbchesapeake.com, “Equal Housing Opportunity”

Spy House of the Week is an ongoing series that selects a different home each week. The Spy’s Habitat editor Jennifer Martella makes these selections based exclusively on her experience as a architect.

Jennifer Martella has pursued her dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. Her award winning work has ranged from revitalization projects to a collaboration with the Maya Lin Studio for the Children’s Defense Fund’s corporate retreat in her home state of Tennessee.

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