The motto of St. Benedict was “Ora et Labora” (Pray and Work) which was the name of the original house built in the late 18th century on this 91+ acre property that borders both Broad and Bridge Creek. The original house was a two-and a half story, three bay, Flemish bond brick structure with flared water table, three brick belt course, and single brick flat arch lintels. There were entry doors at both the north and south facades and brick chimneys at both gable end walls. Since that time, major additions and renovations have transformed the house including a one-story family room off the kitchen wing, a two-story addition off the main wing that created a spacious sunroom on the main floor, a sumptuous primary suite on the second floor and a deep loggia along the rear of the house for watching the sunsets over the water.
Past the gated entrance, a long gravel drive under an allee of trees ends at a circular drive edged with a row of boxwoods in front of the house. As I walked up to the house, I admired the beauty of the architecture and the very pleasing exterior color palette of light yellow brick and lap siding, white trim, black shutters and deep blue metal roof, framed by the green of the mature trees in front of the house. The main center wing was built in two parts; the left two bays are the original structure from 1800 and the right two bays were built in the late 19th century, as the chimney placements indicate. The main wing’s two-bay porch with pairs of columns ties the two parts together and the additions at each side telescope down slightly in deference to the original wing which breaks up the massing of the entire façade. I especially admired the wide and long 6/6 windows that maximize the views of the house’s pastoral setting.
The kitchen wing was added later and the current owners added the two-story wing containing the sunroom and primary suite above as well as the one story family room behind the kitchen wing.
The front door opens into the foyer with a vista through the space to a French door at the rear wall tucked under the curved ceiling below the “L” shaped stairs to the second floor. The foyer’s beautiful wide pine floors and stair treads, Oriental carpet and antique furnishings introduce the elegant furnishings throughout the house. The graceful stair balustrade is detailed with a slender newel post and cap rail in a dark stained finish with very slender white pickets.
Since both vistas from the foyer were enticing, I was first drawn to the cozy sitting room to the left that has both a front window and a pair of slender French doors with a transom to the loggia. I loved the earth tones of the deep olive club chairs and caramel colored ottoman in front of the fireplace diagonally opposite from two deep brown chairs. The antique secretary at the other rear corner is the perfect spot for working on a laptop as I am doing now at my own secretary.
Next to the sitting room is the living room with its front window and two slender French doors with transoms, one leading to the rear loggia and the other leading to the sunroom. The living room’s seating is grouped around the original fireplace with earth-toned solid fabrics accented by patterns inspired by nature on the two chairs flanking the fireplace and the drapery. I admired how the slim moldings and chair rail around the walls adds architectural character to the room and the soft lighting encourages one to linger by the fire.
The sunroom’s interior architecture was carefully thought out to create a rhythm of double unit windows between mullions that stretched over the ceiling to form a coffered ceiling over the beautiful bluestone floor. The monochromatic color scheme creates a serene spot for relaxing conversation or to spend a few hours engrossed by a good book. A pair of French doors lead to an open porch overlooking the pool area. The porch provides both a covered space for respite from the sun after a swim and a terrace above for the primary suite on the second floor.
On the other side of the foyer is the elegant dining room with an Oriental cream and blue rug over the original wood floors to anchor the beautiful antique pieces including a table and ten Hepplewhite chairs, sideboard and chest. I admired the interior finishes of the bright Tuscan gold wall color, the drapery over the wide and tall windows that rises to the underside of the ceiling and the Oriental cream and blue rug over the original wood floors.
The spacious kitchen’s neutral tones of the cabinets and Mexican tile flooring is accented by the colorful wallpapered backsplash and window valances that are similar to the upholstery in two of the living room’s chairs and drapery. I also liked the splash of color in the deep red cushioned seat below the wide and tall window at the front of the room. The wall opening above base cabinets on the opposite wall is an open “window” overlooking the adjacent family room. The kitchen also has a front exterior door for ease of catering large parties.
The spacious family room has delightful interior architecture from the gambrel shaped ceiling that gives the room the perfect volume for its width. Single French doors with transoms flank the fireplace overlook the adjacent slate terrace. Both doors and the side windows bring sunlight throughout the day and indirect sunlight filters into the room through the French doors at the other exterior wall to the loggia. The neutral tones of the upholstered pieces accented by the dark colors of the club chairs, the patterned rug and the lovely painted chest create a relaxing space for family and friends.
My favorite room is the deep loggia along the main wing’s rear elevation with sitting and dining areas strategically placed to enjoy the sunset views. The loggia is accessed by French doors from the family room, foyer, den/office and living room to provide great indoor-outdoor flow for entertaining. Brick walks connect the loggia to the pool area, the sunroom and to the slate terrace off the family room with a BBQ and fireplace that is a true outdoor family room.
The second floor contains four bedrooms and three baths. The sumptuous primary suite has a gambrel shaped bedroom with French doors flanked by single windows to a large terrace for sunsets over the water. The rear wall of the bedroom has a five-unit window for views of the water.
The property also includes a pool house whose exterior materials and colors echo the main house in miniature. The open plan living-dining-kitchen, two bedrooms and a bath are perfect for an extended stay. An open porch extends the living space overlooking the large pool with views of the creeks. Nearby is a four bedroom guest cottage, children’s playhouse and multiple barns/outbuildings.
Woodlawn Farm combines its original historic character with additions of the exquisite sunroom, loggia, family room and terrace that make this exceptional estate a very livable family home. The pool, nearby putting green and two piers for boating offer sporting opportunities and the surrounding farmland of the 91 acre farm with 3250 linear feet of riprapped shoreline guarantee complete privacy. Panoramic vistas from the loggia, terrace and pool area end each day in spectacular sunsets over Broad and Bridge Creeks. All this in very desirable Royal Oak, equidistant from both Easton and St. Michaels. Bravo to the Owners for enhancing and maintaining this part of Talbot County’s architectural history!
For more information about this property, contact Laura Carney with TTR Sotheby’s International Realty at 410-673-3344 (o), 410-310-3307 (c) or [email protected]. For more photographs and pricing, visit www.lauracarney.com ,“Equal Housing Opportunity.”
Aerial Photography by David Sotirous, (410) 212-2599
House Photography by Jim McKee, 703-593-4392
Jennifer Martella is an architect with Bohl Architects’ Annapolis office and a referral agent for Meredith Fine Properties. Jennifer is an integral part of Bohl Architects’ design team for projects she brings to the firm. She is also the writer of Bohl’s website’s bi-monthly blog “Tango Funhouse” where she highlights the firm’s vision and other fun aspects of life by design. Her Italian heritage led her to Piazza Italian Market, where she hosts wine tastings every Friday and Saturday.