HOT HOUSE: 601 Walker Avenue, Towson 21212
Storybook farmhouse in Lake Walker neighborhood, built in 1891. Two stories, four bedrooms, one and a half baths on a half acre of landscaped grounds: $250,000
What: Ever wish that life could be simpler? This picturesque 1891 farmhouse cottage and its tiny Lake Walker community are like a trip back in time — and not just because the owners, Robert and Joan Browne, have lived here for over 50 years. Mr. Browne is a long-time Baltimore artist, and his wife is his favorite model. Together they have filled the house with art and left it much as it was at the turn of the century. Enter through a side gate, onto a small porch and into the entrance hall. Narrow stairs climb to the second floor, and a pretty living and dining room feature long windows that look out to the garden. Across the hall is a wonderful den with fireplace, and bay window overlooking the side garden. Brick herringbone paths wind from here out to the detached shed and artists studio. The kitchen, at the back of the house, is surprisingly spacious, with brick linoleum floor and wooden cabinets, all circa 1970. Just off the kitchen is the half bath, small and dark, in desperate need of a re-do. The basement is a true, unfinished cellar, with an entrance to the back garden. There are hardwood floors throughout, and lots of quirky built-ins and craftsman touches. The bedrooms and one full bath (no master suite here) are all upstairs: short on closets but long on windows and charm. An attic, accessed through pull-down stairs, was once a fifth (servants?) bedroom. No central air conditioning, but new roof. And a separately deeded parcel of land, included with the property and located in Baltimore county, which seems to explain the Stoneleigh school district. A very unique and wonderful property.
Where: Lake Walker is just north of Northern Parkway and east of York Road, right at the city/county line. It was built at the turn of the century on what remained of the ‘Drumquastle’ estate — a parcel of several hundred acres given to William Govan in 1775 by the sixth Lord Calvert and named after his father’s estate in Scotland. Follow Gittings Avenue east, across York Road, and you’re in Lake Walker — a few streets of cottages and bungalows, well kept and quiet, where, according to Mrs. Browne, “everyone looks out for each other, and there are lots of children.” From here you can walk to Belvedere Square as well as the multitude of shops on York Road like Panera, Party City, Wells Liquor — the world is your oyster. The highly-regarded Stoneleigh Elementary is your local public school.
Why: Unimaginably sweet. Like living in a fairy tale, or your dream grandmother’s house in the woods. Narrow little stairs, a funny sleeping porch upstairs, the den (with fireplace) overlooking the garden (with artist studio). Convenient location. Lots of potential. And you gotta love the price.
Would Suit: Edward Scissorhands, Tasha Tudor, Pam and Jim from The Office.
NB: It does need quite a bit of work. Depending on your personality and budget, you could live in the house and slowly bring in into the modern era, or do the major work before you move in. Bathrooms, kitchen, cellar and attic are ripe for renovation.