On my way home from touring a previous House of the Week, I took a detour to stop by the Chester River Wine & Cheese Company at the corner of Cannon and Cross Streets. As I drove down Cannon St., I passed today’s featured house and stopped to admire its symmetrical and colorful front elevation with the side door next to two windows, three windows aligned above and the center roof gable with an accent curved top window. The symmetry is enhanced by the exterior color palette of light aqua lap siding, white trim and the butter yellow front door and accents of bright blue cushions on the rattan chairs are the finishing touches. The house appeared to be either brand new or totally renovated and I discovered the house had indeed undergone a total renovation from the foundation to the roof. The current owners purchased the property from sellers who had owned the house for several generations and they hoped for buyers who would restore the house and love it as much as they did. I believe these buyers exceeded the seller’s expectations.
The condition of the house might have deterred all by the most enthusiastic renovationists; in fact, one developer submitted a bid at double the cost of the house to tear it down and rebuild, due to the existing conditions. Fortunately the new owners had the vision to look beyond the suspended ceilings that had been installed under the original ceiling finish, paneled walls, etc. and focused instead on features like the original wood floors, wood fireplace mantelpiece and long windows that could be saved and refinished.
The house was stripped down to the studs, new collar beams were added as lateral support for the roof rafters, the front porch was liberated from the former screen framing and a new foundation was poured. The original addition at the back of the house was widened to create room to relocate the stair for better flow. During demolition, they discovered both an old wooden peg and a horseshoe that were left undisturbed. The result was well worth the effort and now the house proudly reclaims its place in the urban streetscape. The open front porch is a cozy spot for relaxation and offers opportunities to connect with neighbors on their daily stroll.
The main floor open-plan layout is similar to the “shotgun” style since you have a clear view from the front door to the pair of French doors at the rear wall. The Craftsman style front door and the windows bring sunlight into the room. The side brick chimney was left exposed and the original mantelpiece with its narrow firebox opening is now decorative. The wide wall opening leads to the dining room and the “L” shaped side stairs are in front of the former exterior/now interior rear window and lap siding of the living room wall that was left exposed. The landing of the L” shape stairs is centered on one of the original side exterior windows.
The expansion of the rear wing creates both a spacious dining area for entertaining and the large galley kitchen with a large center island, built from reclaimed wood from the demolition. The bar sink and an overhang for bar stools creates both a secondary food prep area and a cozy space to keep the cook(s) company. The R/F is conveniently located on the rear wall between the sink cabinetry and the range cabinetry. The beautiful oversized wood exterior door opens to the driveway for ease of unloading groceries and restocking the large pantry. I liked the combination of open shelves on the kitchen sink wall of cabinets and the upper cabinets on the opposite range wall. Another wide wall opening leads to a room with the laundry along the side wall opposite the door to the power room. Since the French doors access the rear yard, I would be tempted to move the W/D to the pantry and free up this pleasant space to become another seating area.
The second floor hall is sunlit by the two exterior windows above the run of the stairs. The primary suite overlooks the rear yard from a delightful private deck complete with rattan seats for family pets. The primary bedroom is enhanced by the former ceiling rafters stained to highlight their hand cut edges, the pair of leaded glass mirrors above the bed’s headboard and the French doors leading to the deck. The primary bath has separate European style lavatories below a long mirror and a bowed shower rod with the curtain’s aqua background picking up the exterior wall color against a pattern of white branches. The front bedroom is furnished as a charming nursery and the side door accesses the attic area for storage.
The tax records note the house’s construction as 1920 but while cleaning the chimney interior, the contractor found the date “1890” carved into the brick, perhaps by the mason who was proud of his work. Whatever the date, this meticulous restoration/renovation was done with loving care and the open plan main floor is updated for today’s lifestyle without compromising the original charm. Some of the past owners’ family still live on Cannon St. and I am sure they are very pleased with the current owners’ efforts. Bravo!
For more information about this property, contact Lacey Sutton with Coldwell Banker Chesapeake Real Estate Company at 410-778-0330 (o), 443-480-35 80(c) or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more photographs and pricing visit https://suttonteamhomes.com , “Equal Housing Opportunity”. Photography by Justinian Dizpenza, Andover Media, 410-204-1992
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.