Hot House: 909 Poplar Hill Road, Baltimore, MD 21210
Former carriage house and stables, Bavarian style, in stone, half-timbered, with Vermont slate roof. Five bedrooms, 4 full baths, 3,201 sq. ft. over two levels. In good condition, but modified for group housing, with flexible floor plan, updated kitchen, office wing. Large front parking pad, carport, shared driveway. Large circular deck overlooks 1.5 acre landscaped gardens: $899,900
What: The former Mt. Saint Agnes Theological Center for Women, whose mission, “intellectual support for spiritual lives,” would seem to be desperately needed nowadays, but which nevertheless closed its doors last year. The Theological Center was named for Mount Saint Agnes College, a college for Catholic women originally located in Mt. Washington, whose most famous alumna is Barbara Mikulski. Mount Saint Agnes College merged with Loyola University in 1972. In 1998, the Sisters of Mercy purchased this property on Poplar Hill Road for use as a spiritual center and retirement home for a small number of nuns. As a result, accommodations and adjustments were made which were probably necessary, but which have sadly reduced the character of the house. It’s hard to guess at what’s missing, but there’s an institutional feeling inside that is out of sync with its age and handsome exterior detail. It looks as though a small stone house was linked to a larger former stable, and as a result, the floor plan is long and not deep. There are two front doors, the smaller one leading into a good-sized kitchen and the second, main door, leading to a reception area and office wing. The bedrooms are all upstairs. There are many possibilities for reconfiguring the layout, but it will take some thought and a professional eye. A few important features remain intact: the wide barn doors, a big open fireplace, and in places, the original brick and stone floors and walls. But there is office quality wall-to-wall carpet throughout, and fixtures like handrails, built-ins, lighting, etc. are all very basic. Someone splurged on the deck though, which has a nice modern look, a pergola, and bench-style railing which invites basking in the sun.
Where: Poplar Hill is a neighborhood in North Roland Park. It’s bounded by Northern Parkway to the south and Lake Avenue to the north, and between Roland Avenue and Falls Road to the east and west. Poplar Hill Road is a scenic street that winds between large trees and expensive homes, set well back. It’s a good walking neighborhood, very quiet, and well cared for by the Poplar Hill Homeowner’s Association. There are lots of schools, the Roland Park Library, post office and shopping within a mile or two, both on Roland Avenue and on Falls Road.
Would Suit: Buyer with imagination and a good architect on tap.
Why: Extremely charming exterior, a house that “meets you at the curb.” Sunny deck with serene and private views.
Why Not: Inside, there is a distinctly institutional feeling, and despite its good condition, many buyers will feel the need for at least a partial redo.
NB: Interior stairs are unusually narrow for a home for elderly nuns. One bathroom upstairs has an interesting step-in bathtub.
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