Hot House: 8 Laurelford Court, Cockeysville MD 21030
Italian provincial style palazzo, circa 1992, in stucco (Dryvit) with tile and rubber roof. Five bedrooms, six baths, 12,415 sq. ft. over three stories, with 50’ terrace, 48’ gallery, 36’ living room, four fireplaces, vaulted ceilings. Gourmet kitchen with granite counters, adjoining family room, library, elevator. Large main floor master suite with separate sitting rooms, dressing rooms and baths. Hardwood floors, nine foot ceilings throughout. Landscaped five-acre lot with pool and two car garage: $2 ,750,000
What: There are houses like this all over America, from Beverly Hills to Houston to Greenwich. Inspired by European palaces, they make a powerful immediate impression, which might range from “awesome” to “laughable” to “despicable,” depending on your sensibility, and bring to mind the gated communities in China with architectural themes. According to the listing, 8 Laurelford Court offers a “seamless blend of stateliness and livability.” Its enormous spaces would be great for entertaining, although distances between the rooms, and sometimes across a single room, are so great that actually living here is difficult to imagine. Still, it is a beautiful and well-designed home, and it’s worth remembering that houses like this have had their critics ever since the Carnegies and Vanderbilts were building their opulent New World palaces at the turn of the century. Henry James famously regarded the mansions of Newport as “a breeding ground for white elephants” and its famous Beaux Arts houses as “queer, and self-conscious and lumpish … really grotesque.” Today, those houses are regarded as a national treasure, and it’s possible that 8 Laurelford Court will be judged the same. The only real, unbiased objection is the Dryvit exterior. Dryvit is a sort of synthetic stucco, popular in North America in the ‘70s and ‘80s. In the late 1980s problems started developing when it began to appear that Dryvit was leaky, retained water and was so soft that it was easily vandalized. There were many lawsuits, with mixed results. According to real estate website Trulia, Dryvit may affect a home’s value.
Where: The Laurelford subdivision lies between Falls Road and I-83, in the area north of Padonia Road. It is a neighborhood of large houses and big lots, convenient to York Road, 25 minutes to downtown, and not too far from the private school corridor — with McDonogh, Garrison Forest and St. Paul’s being the closest. The streets are wide and quiet, lots of trees and lovely for walking, but you will need to drive to all destinations. Laurelford Court is a cul-de-sac, with houses set well back from the road.
Would Suit: Large-scale entertainers.
Why: Makes a statement.
Why Not: A certain hotel-ballroom quality to the entire house.
NB: Size of the house, and large, ground floor master suite makes it attractive as a multi-generational family compound.