Unusual Rural Gothic House Built By Thomas Dixon: Award-Winning Restoration

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Hot House: 1815 Thornbury Road, Mt. Washington, Baltimore MD 21209

Rural Gothic-style Victorian, circa 1856, wood clapboard exterior, recent cedar shake roof.  Meticulous historical renovation.  Four bedrooms, 3 baths, 3,822 sq. ft. over three stories, with front porch, original Georgia heart pine floors and woodwork, wood burning fireplaces, new systems, central a/c, separate zoned apartment.  About an acre and a half property with circular drive and detached 2 car garage: $735,000 (recently reduced)  

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What: A unique and unforgettable house, with historic Mt. Washington connections.Originally built by and for the noted Baltimore architect Thomas Dixon, who built the old Baltimore City Jail, the Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital and Gatehouse, the Mt. Vernon Place United Methodist Church and Franklin & Marshall College, and who also developed the Dixon Hill neighborhood in Mt. Washington. He sold the house in 1881 to the Stirling-Graham family. When Rosalie Graham died in the late 1990’s, after a 30-year career at Stieff Silver, Grahams had been living in the house for over 100 years. In 1999, it was sold to the current owner, an architect who has carefully researched and restored the house’s gleaming woodwork, and its original paints and wallpapers — sometimes modernizing, sometimes not – to great effect. In 2005 this house was the winner of the Maryland Historic Trust Stewardship award and the Baltimore Heritage Preservation award. It is one of only three or four surviving antebellum houses in Dixon Hill, which is one of the first planned communities in America, making it arguably one of the first truly suburban houses in the country. Dixon incorporated the new concept of running water here, with a pipe running from the pump into the kitchen (remnants still visible).  The living room is a large and formal — near-ballroom size — with long, floor-to-ceiling-windows at the bowed end. All the windows in the house are large, many with the original wavy glass, which give it an elegant air and lightens things up. Not everyone will love with the small kitchen, which seems to be making a stab at historical accuracy, but it has its own retro appeal. Ditto the large master bath, with its busy tile work. The big glass shower however, was the right decision. The two-level apartment at the back could be a nice rental, or easily incorporated back into the house.

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Where: Thornbury Road is off of Smith Avenue in Mt. Washington. From Falls Road, drive over the Kelly Avenue Bridge, bear right through the light, and take a left onto Smith Avenue.  Thornbury Road will be about a quarter mile on your left. Number 1815 is up near the top of the hill. It’s a lovely neighborhood of old trees, charming shingle houses and a tiny white church in the pines, now The Chimes. Mt. Washington Village is less than a mile away, with the Light Rail stop, Mt. Washington Tavern and the high rated Mt. Washington public school. Whole Foods is just across the bridge, as is the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, one of the east coast’s premier swim clubs. Mt. Washington has a more diverse ethnic and racial mix than other upscale Baltimore neighborhoods, which together with the Light Rail station and other amenities, make it perennially desirable.

Who: History buffs, old house buffs.

 Why: Like living in a Civil War movie. Life becomes instantly more interesting.

 Why Not: Not a fan of the Civil War.

 NB: There is an empty room, the former kitchen, behind the existing one. It has a huge stone fireplace, and this is where you will create your new, gourmet eat-in kitchen. 

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