HOT HOUSE: 514 Cathedral Street, Baltimore
Greek Revival mansion, in brick and stone, circa 1847, in the heart of the Mt. Vernon historical district. Twenty-four feet wide, on six levels, with 8,000 sq. ft. and an additional 2,000 sq. ft. luxury apartment, fully rented, at $2,000/mo. Recently designer-renovated, with 7 bedrooms, 5.5 baths, 8 marble fireplaces, gated courtyard, theatre style gourmet kitchen, state of the art HVAC and parking for four cars: $1,195,000
What: A labor of love. Built in 1847, when Baltimore was the fastest growing city in America, this house has been a grand private home, a hotel and a decrepit boarding house of 56 rooms – which is where it was when designer Drew Rieger bought it in 2004. For many years, Mr. Rieger lavished his time, money and aesthetic sensibility on it, transforming it back into a luxurious, slightly quirky city home of great style. The entrance at 514 is not at all grand, and not even that promising — just a brick façade among the many along this stretch of Cathedral Street — with no clue to its splendid interior. Up a narrowish flight of stairs, however, and you are in a palace. Many large rooms with big windows and marble fireplaces, beautifully and authentically restored, make up the first two floors. Old cypress floors throughout add a sense of history. Sunroom and pretty outdoor deck, just the right size for a dinner party. Best room in the house is the kitchen, quite possibly the best kitchen in Baltimore. On two floors, with the granite island at the center of the main floor area, and above, a custom-designed (to match the Peabody library railings) decorative iron railing that lets you look down, drink in hand, to watch the action below. Elsewhere, Brazilian mahogany, travertine marble, under-floor heating, salvaged columns, French doors, balconies…all amazing to see.
Where: Cathedral Street, between Centre and Franklin. From a cultural and city standpoint, the location is delightful. Here, you are placed to take immediate advantage of Baltimore’s greatest treasures: The Walters, Peabody, Pratt Library, Center Stage and the Basilica are minutes away, walking. The recent and ongoing Mt. Vernon neighborhood revival has made restaurants like Sascha’s, Helmand, Soto Sopra, Brewer’s Art and City Café hum all week long.
Would Suit: Cultural attaché, university president, board chair, philanthropist.
Why: Great for entertaining – benefit dinners, cocktails for 200, Conference of Cardinals – in a grand style. Also, rental income defrays a lot of expenses.
Why Not: Probably unseemly lavish for average non-profit trustee…
NB: A little light on closets. On the other hand, the whole house is wired for 12 channel sound.