Hot House: 7206 Bellona Avenue, Ruxton, Baltimore, 21204
Provencal style mansion in stucco with slate roof and copper trim, circa 1923, with later addition. Five bedrooms, 5 baths, 4,906 sq. feet over 3 stories. Marble foyer, formal living room with stone fireplace, formal dining room, sun room. Trish Houk custom kitchen leads to family room w fireplace, master suite w/ fireplace, separate spa tub, shower. Stone hardscaping and patio, unfinished basement, sound and security systems, heated 2-car garage, extensive landscaping with mature plantings on 2.5 acres: $2,595,000
What: A grand house with a jewel box feeling and lots of sun. It is not surprising to learn that the house was a gift from George Debnam, a Baltimore Sun reporter and later a builder, to his daughter Laurette for her wedding. There is a lovely heart-shaped copper weathervane on the roof, commemorating the occasion. The two were very close, and used to take long car trips together, including one to see Randolph Hearst at San Simeon, where they were fogged in overnight. George Debnam built many of the grand apartment buildings in North Baltimore in the 1920s, and named them alphabetically: the Alston, the Beaufort, the Carleton, the DeSoto, Eden Hall, the Fenway and the Geneva — presumably the Depression intervened before he got to the Zurich. This house was expensively built — as a builder’s always is — the walls are thick and the details are beautiful. It was expensively added on to a few decades ago, in a seamless addition that opened up the south-facing back of the house to the sun, adding a family room off the kitchen, an upstairs bedroom and playroom, and a sunroom on the other side of the house for symmetry. It has had the benefit of custom design by the Baltimore dream team — Trish Houck for kitchen, Bob Jones for lighting and Bob Jackson for landscaping. There are French doors out to the terrace from the family room, dining room and sun room, and there is a good circular flow on the ground floor that makes it great for entertaining. The basement is unfinished, but warm and dry. Upstairs are big bedrooms, a nice office with tons of storage, and a luxurious master suite with windows looking over the property, walk in closets, spa bath. Dad thought of everything.
Where: On Bellona Avenue, off N.Charles Street, about a quarter of the way down the hill, at Betty Bush Lane. These mansions along Bellona and Brightside were among the first to be built as Baltimore expanded northwards to still-rural Ruxton. Betty Bush lane is named for a hospitable local woman who made a living providing food, drink and other services to the workmen who built these homes (local legend). Great proximity to local schools, downtown, and points north via 83.
Why: Impressive and elegant, but not overwhelming – a nice scale.
Why Not: It’s a formal house — you’re casual people.
Would Suit: Old-Baltimore newlyweds.
NB: The house recently lost a magnificent copper beech in the back which is sadly missed, but it retains a beautiful Cedar of Lebanon, a stand of oaks and several big hollies at the front.
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