Krista Smith


Historic Sagamore Farm: New and Improved

Sagamore Farm. Photo by Krista Smith.
Sagamore Farm. All photos by Krista Smith.

Tomorrow, the 138th Preakness Stakes, or the “Freakness” as it is sometimes affectionately known in Baltimore, will run at the Pimlico Race Course.

Whether you find yourself at the race sipping Black-Eyed Susans and wearing a pink taffeta dress that matches the flower on your hat, or funneling malt liquor and wearing black denim shorts that match the tattoo on your abdomen, you will be participating in the long Maryland tradition of thoroughbred horse racing. It’s a tradition that owes much of its rich history, and maybe even a bit of its optimistic future, to the pragmatism of Margaret Emerson Vanderbilt.

sagamore farm today 2

Margaret’s first son, Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, was born in 1912. Mrs. Vanderbilt was hopeful that her boy would grow up to be a businessman and she had good reason to be bullish. Men on both sides of Alfred’s family had built huge companies (Bromo-Seltzer on her side and the New York Central Railroad on her husband’s side). Now widowed, Margaret was one of the wealthiest people in America…and this was “Gatsby” America, which we all now know (thanks, Baz) was the real deal.

Alfred, as it turned out, had other interests (such a thankless job, the parenting). “Since the first time I went to the races at Pimlico at the age of 9,” Mr. Vanderbilt once said, ”I have had this wonderful feeling about racing. I don’t go to the races because I just love horses. It’s like the person who goes to the circus and falls in love with the whole show, not just the elephants.”

The Vanderbilt family original silks design.
Vanderbilt’s racing silk design on the stalls in the original stable.

A Ravens Fan Shares Her Shots of Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans


Oh what a weekend!  Whether here or in New Orleans, it was all Super Bowl, all the time.  Most Baltimoreans know someone who managed to make the trip (some without tickets, who just wanted to join in the revelry).  BFB contributing writer and photographer Krista Smith was there and shared with us her pics of the big game and sights in the Big Easy. – The Eds.

Cool Rents: Chesapeake Commons


Perhaps you’ve heard? Renting is the new buying. Welcome to Cool Rents where we walk you through standout rentals in the Baltimore real estate market.

Name: Chesapeake Commons

Cross Streets: North Eutaw and George Streets

Neighborhood: Sometimes Market Center, sometimes Seton Hill, sometimes Mount Vernon (mostly Seton Hill but v. close to Mt. Vernon)

Year Built: 1899 and repurposed as apartments in the early ’80s

Price: With dozens of individual floor plans, there is quite a range, but to give some idea; a one bedroom (888 sq. ft.) is $1350 and a two bedroom (1,486 sq. ft.) is $1,895

Just the facts: Pet-friendly, but a charge of $15 to $45 a month depending on the pet’s size, washer and dryer in all units, free hi-speed internet, a gated and reserved parking space runs $90 a month.

Cool Rents: 1901 South Charles Street


Perhaps you’ve heard? Renting is the new buying. Welcome to Cool Rents where we walk you through standout rentals in the Baltimore real estate market. – The Eds.

Name: 1901 South Charles

Cross Streets: South Charles St. and East Wells St.
Neighborhood: South Baltimore, aka “SoBo”
Year Built: 2012
Price – Studios: $1,365+; One bedrooms: $1,495+; Two bedrooms: $1,940+

The Insider: The Convenient Country Life

Did you know that from the Washington Monument in Mount Vernon to the Greenspring Valley, it’s just ten measly miles? A complete transformation of place rolls by in just a little over ten minutes. It’s a little like teleporting and it’s very specific to Baltimore. Most nearby cities have a more gradual landscape change and, as a transplant from one of those cities, I am always just a little bit shocked by it.A quintessential example of this is my friend’s beautiful house. It’s bucolic splendor at its very best, all well-worn charm and gorgeous green views. You would never guess that you are just miles from the convenience of the beltway and 83.

Summer is So Two Weeks Ago: Fall Restaurants, Part 2














Continuing the focus on fall restaurant news has come naturally this week. I mean, who isn’t feeling autumnal? The brisk weather and the football on the tube (Faith Hill’s sparkly minidress was a vast improvement over last year’s bizarre capri/blazer combo, I’m sure the men are with me on this one) has us all in the mood. So let’s get our cozy on and figure out where we are going for our butternut squash bisque this season. It’s game time folks!

Summer is So Five Days Ago: Fall Restaurants, Part 1


I saw it. While driving on Hillside Road this morning, I saw it. Among the dense green trees (driving that road always makes me feel like I am in a BMW commercial) I spotted fall’s first touch of gold. To me, it’s a little mini-miracle every year.

It’s also a sign that I need to get busy. There are mouth guards to be molded, moth damage to be assessed and bedtime enforcement to be carried out. Along with the fall, structure comes marching in.

The good news is that the fun is not over, it’s just changed its flavor. For me, the lighter side of fall means reconnecting with friends over a great meals on chilly nights. Getting aqquainted with the new restaurants and choosing where to go is part of the joy. Some Harbor East options are on the horizon that have me intrigued, and here’s the skinny:

She’s Gonna Make it After All: Restaurant Picks From a Baltimore Gal About Town


Fresh faced and well-spoken, Meghan McGuire is exactly how you would picture today’s young professional woman – a sort of modern-day Mary Richards (points if you know who that is…hint: she can turn the world on with a smile). The 28-year old Fells Point resident is an associate at Camden Partners, a private equity firm downtown.  Busy as a bee, she spends her free time working toward her MBA, spending time with her boyfriend and juggling an active social life.

All this means she eats out…a lot. Her stomping grounds are the neighborhoods surrounding the harbor and her tastes reflect her hometown girl roots.

Her answers were fresh and fun and in them I found a couple places I am dying to try. How great does a “build your own grilled cheese” sound? Thanks for that one Meghan!

Hot and Miserable? There’s Still Time to Go Down the Ocean, Hon


Can we be honest? Can we just admit that the second half of summer in Baltimore kinda sucks?

Don’t get me wrong, I fiercely love the first half. I love a June afternoon at the pool, I love my first ten snowballs, I love the way my yard looks on Father’s Day and I love the the jumbo crabs from Captain Trey’s. Then mid-July hits and with it comes the brutal mid-Atlantic mugginess. Now an afternoon poolside requires me to actually get in the pool, the snowballs don’t help my swimwear anxiety, my yard is brown and crunchy and the salt in the crabs makes me swell like a tick.

Real Estalking: Looking Back on a House of the Future


12 Laurelford Court, Cockeysville


6 br/6.5 ba

Do you remember the Carousel of Progress ride at Disney World? More specifically, the scene where the animatronic family is portrayed living in the future, their home tricked out with imagined technological advances? The attraction has been updated in recent years, but when I first saw it in the early eighties the future was a mauve and aqua spectacle of MTV inspired design.

I was ten-years old and I loved the look of the futuristic home. I returned from my Disney trip inspired and created a folder with “dream house” written in bubble letters. There, I stashed design ideas that included a purple Formica platform bed, a sunken lounge area and a rainbow wall mural.

I think someone found my folder.

There is a house for sale in Cockeysville that might as well be a time capsule from 1983. All the classic elements are included: built in pastel furniture, brushed stainless steel fixtures, austere white walls, geometric artwork and skylights aplenty.

My ten-year-old-self wants to do a back handspring. My thirty-nine-year-old-self can’t do that anymore but is still intrigued.

Real Estalking: My Kind of Farming in Ellicott City


I just returned home from a visit to my friends’ farm in upstate New York. The stylish couple moved there about a year ago after burning out on big city-life and demanding jobs.

With a love of natural beauty and food (Bailey was floral designer and Thomas a pastry chef) as their compass, they decided to turn “sustainable” and “local” into more than a choice at Whole Foods. They made it a lifestyle.

Bailey & Thomas walk their goats

The farm is beyond beautiful and I admire the passion and fortitude they exhibit in their new life. For me, however, an attempt at milking their goat (I managed to get the milk into my eye) made it clear: I love the farm aesthetic, not so much the actual farming.

Enter this Ellicott City home. Built in 1730, it is has been partially renovated but has room to improve (yes kitchen, I’m talking about you). And while it is not clear how this quirky building has been functioning (offices, home, apartments?), it is certain that it’s filled with rustic charm: original stone

Real Estalking: B&B Fantasy


A recent weekend jaunt to the Bedford Post Inn left me feeling entrepreneurally inspired. I loved that the inn was a business that made beautiful design a top priority.

Everything was rustic-chic perfection from the gardens to the decor to the graphics on the in-room menu.

As for the location, let’s just say there is a reason Martha Stewart and Ralph Lauren call Bedford, New York home (the two style icons are next door neighbors, talk about keeping up with the Joneses).

So now I am wondering how, here in Baltimore, I get my Martha on and create my own design-centric business. Well, these two real estate listings have me day dreaming.

1641 Thames Street, Baltimore


2 br/2.5 ba

OK, this is fun. Imagine life as proprietor/resident in this store/apartment combo in Fells Point. What flavor should the retail be? Stylish housewares? Designer clothing? Organic take-out? The possibilities are endless and bound to be appealing with the store front’s mega-watt charm. So you spend your day pleasantly selling your goods and at night you retire to the stunning apartment upstairs. Far from an afterthought, the space is light filled, lofty and includes gorg water views. Just a few updates to the nineties color scheme and BAM, you have yourself a self-contained, uber-stylish life.

4344 Columbia Road, Ellicott City


7br/7.5 ba

How about the role of hip innkeeper? You’ll have to use your imagination to rid the place of every oriental carpet, every dried flower, every duck decoy and all those “swag” window treatments. Imagine instead, oversized lanterns, charcoal linen upholstery, natural fiber rugs and farmhouse tables. Country chic, right? A little garden out back for your “farm to table” breakfast and you will be listed in the Relais & Châteaux guide in no time.

Real Estalking: Houses Seem to Be Selling, No?

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

I once read that Warren Buffet picked his stocks based his wife’s purchasing habits. While I’m not sure the story is even true, it has given me license to imagine my own housewife intuition as reliable as the Harvard Business Review.

Real Estalking: Frankenmansions on the Rise


This week, as I scanned local real estate listings, I began to notice an eerie presence. It was huge, often massive, and it kept popping up in the multi-million dollar price range.

It was the Frankenmansion (cue the spooky music).

So what makes a mansion Franken? They look like an architectural Lego project, like someone has taken several homes and  stuck them all together.

Some houses come by this look organically. After years of additions and renovations they look pieced together, and it works. Some, however, are built to be Franken. I guess home builders think , “if one giant house is impressive, then mashing five together must be even better!”

These home designs often rely on mixing materials (stone, stucco and brick is a common cocktail) and architectural styles to craft their cacophony. The liberal use of columns, a minimum of eight separate roof lines and the incorporation of at least one turret also seem de rigueur.

You don’t believe in monsters? Well, look at the examples I have gathered as proof. The Frankenmansion is very much alive and well in Baltimore, and like Mary Shelly’s creation, there’s a certain appeal to their ambling clunkiness.

Do one of these creatures (sold or not) lurk in your neck of the woods? Email me a photo and we will add it to the collection. Happy looking!


3885 Whitebrook Lane, Ellicott City


7 br/12 ba

See the listing on Baltimore Fishbowl Real Estate

Real Estalking: A Guilford Oldie and a Phoenix Newbie

This week’s open house picks are a study in contrasts: an old and charming yin set against a new and innovative yang. Which one is more appealing to you? Happy looking!3911 Juniper Road, Guilford

2 br/3 ba
Sunday, May 27, 1 – 2:30 p.m.