July 10, 2017

I’ll Take This: House with Everything You Could Want!

I have mentioned numerous times how fortunate I am to have so many amazing friends and acquaintances in my life. So when a friend sent a message last week telling me her house was on the market after 40 years, I set up a time to visit, because I knew you’d want to see this incredible house. Warning: There are tons of images, but you’ll want to look at every single one of them!IMG_3149

The house was designed and built in 1926 by Pleasants Pennington who was a favourite of decorators like Dorothy Draper and other society types, and who built houses on Martha’s Vineyard, Tuxedo Park, Locust Valley and other WASPy spots. Although he was based in New York, he had a number of projects in Baltimore, including several houses and public buildings.

Let’s wander around outside to see the 2.5 acre property, hidden within the limits of Baltimore City.

The carriage house and gates, with beautiful benches in the Lutyens style.IMG_3064

These sheep may safely graze – especially since they’re not real.IMG_3142

Across the driveway, there is an old dairy which provided fresh milk to the early residents.IMG_3134

The gazebo, original to the property, is a perfect setting for afternoon cocktails.IMG_3155

There are dozens of boxwoods, some in topiary form, and others just free-growing.IMG_3101

Brick paths lead to the front of the house and throughout the gardens.IMG_3094

There is a tennis court with a greenhouse and shed on the side.IMG_3098

The house is quite grand, but very comfortable, nevertheless. Because there have been so few owners in the past 90+ years, nearly all of the house’s original details are still intact, and hopefully the new owners will be smart enough to keep them and not modernize the place. I question why people buy beautiful old houses like these and then take out the details which make them so special.

And when I said the house has EVERYTHING, I really meant it. There are two silver safes, numerous pantries with the original cupboards, a laundry room, a wine cellar, a sauna, steam shower, library, nine bedrooms, six full and two half baths, fireplaces in nearly every room, plus tons and tons of original milled details that you couldn’t get for love or money now!

The front hallway bisects the house and is at least 20 feet wide. IMG_3124

In each direction, there are wonderful enfilades from room to room.IMG_3070

The house is filled with niches, fireplaces and myriad architectural details.IMG_3066

The home’s owner is an antiques dealer who specializes in porcelain and china, which is evident through the house.IMG_3067

The formal living room features a vignette with imari plates and a stunning antique mirror…IMG_3075

and this classical Georgian fireplace.IMG_3077

The dining room, paneled in pine, has been faux painted and the corner cabinet houses some special pieces of china.IMG_3079

The collections scattered around the house are a combination of serious and whimsicalIMG_3152

The combination of the wallpaper, the fireplace, the pitchers and the picture is flawless.IMG_3112

Again, you can see the owner’s love of porcelain.IMG_3116

This hallway has a close compatriot at the nearby Homewood House.IMG_3119

I love the detail on the ceiling of this small hallway between the powder room and cloak room.IMG_3128

This little trellised room welcomes visitors to the house.IMG_3091

Classic never loses its style.IMG_3144

The house would make an incredible place to raise a family. There’s plenty of room for a slew of children, ample space to entertain friends and family in style and years to make memories which will last forever. For more information about this special house, please click here.

Thanks to my delightful hostess and friend for taking the time out of her busy schedule to show me around her home! xo

July 6, 2017

Bringing the Past to Life

As you might know, if you’ve been a long-time reader of this blog, part of my job involves being the in-house historian at my office. We were founded in 1799, so we’ve got a huge archive and tons of amazing ephemera in our collections. We also have a ghost named Marcia, who lived and worked at our offices for 50 years – 1896-1946.

When we look at all of the old black and white photos, or old photographs of paintings in our collections, they seem so flat and lifeless, even if they include lots of people. In our minds, these aren't real people, because they don't look like the people we see every day. Gibson

But when you add color to the image, it instantly comes to life. I am the resident photoshop wizard, so have played around with colorizing some of our images here.

The first picture I did was our Marcia Crocker Noyes. We like to pose Marcia for the holidays, but when you've got a black and white Marcia on a bright sunny beach, it doesn't look right. So, she needed to be colorized. double marcia

I went down to her old office, and tried to channel Marcia so I could figure out what colors her dress and cape were. I had to guess on some things, but overall, I am pretty happy with the result.

Next up was one of our early headquarters buildings. This was a lot more of a challenge, as it was on the second floor of the Emerald Hotel and Saloon. There were tons of advertisements, windows, brickwork and other details, so it was a perfect job for that odd not-quite-holiday day.double calvert street

Finally, I played around with a group of physicians from the late 1800's. They're a dour bunch, clearly posing for the camera. I am not sure if that's a room at an early HQ building of ours, or a backdrop set. This is the original photo, which I desaturated to make it completely black and white.Baltimore Medical Soc Docs2

Here’s a half-and-half version of it. Baltimore Medical Soc Docs2x

And here’s the fully colourized version. Baltimore Medical Soc Docs2 in colour

I looked at old advertisements for men's clothing in the late 1800's to come up with the colors. I picked hair and eye colors based on closely looking at each of the men and making educated guesses. I have portraits of Drs. Chew and Donaldson, but Chew's hair is white, and Donaldson's hair is a close approximation to this. Here’s Dr. Chew in our portrait of him.

I realize that there are a lot of people who hate the idea of colorizing images, but it's not like the original people or places were in black and white. We are just giving them life again.

June 27, 2017

Oh, Canada!

I am planning a road trip this summer and after some consideration, I decided to head to Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.imageThe route I have chosen will take me up through western Pennsylvania and then western New York to Niagara Falls, where I have booked an AirBnB just a few minutes walk from the Falls. I’ve never been to this part of New York, and never been to Niagara Falls! imageFrom Niagara Falls, it’s less than two hours to Toronto. One of the places I want to visit is the Textile Museum of Canada. I love textiles, and this museum sounds like an amazing place. I am bummed that I am just going to miss a Marimeko exhibit, but I am sure I will find enough other things to catch my attention. imageAnother museum I want to check out is the Design Exchange. Objects in its collection explore five decades of Canadian industrial design. And the most notable about this museum is its location - situated inside the historic Toronto Stock Exchange building, a wonderful example of art deco design.

From Ontario, I head up to Ottawa, the capital of Canada. According to the map, the route between Toronto and Ottawa parallels the north side of Lake Ontario. The tower at the Parliament is a replica of Big Ben in London. Ottawa is very British, so that should be fun. imageThere are also some good antiques markets in Ottawa, so I hope not to miss them.

From Ottawa, it’s off to Montreal. I’ve been there a number of times, and love the strong French influences of the city. imageOne of the main reasons I want to head to Montreal is to spend time at the Osler Library at McGill University. Sir William Osler, MD, was a huge influence at my job, although 100 years ago, and I am working on an abstract to present a paper next year. McGill also has an amazing rare book collection that I’d like to see.

And of course, I want to stop at some of the Marche Aux Puces in the region, just to see what a vastly different region has on offer. Who knows what I might find!

One of the best museums I’ve visited is the McCord Museum of Canadian Life. imageI remember seeing an exhibition on Upstairs/Downstairs life, complete with the appropriate clothing. But what made it stand out for me was the cheeky heads on the mannequins – silver teapots for Upstairs, crockery ones for Downstairs. 

From Montreal, I head back south, with a stop along the Hudson River to break up the long drive. I would love suggestions for places in any of these three cities that you think I shouldn’t miss. One person already gave me some gardens to see, but when I googled it, I found they were FIVE hours NORTH of Montreal! Uh, no.

Thanks for any suggestions!

June 21, 2017

I’ll Take This: Classic House

I grew up on a “dead end” street that only had 10 houses on it, and everyone knew everyone else, visited up and down the street, played endless games together and had the run of the street. It was a microcosm in a big city. We loved it and lived in our house for almost 30 years.

I knew that another one of the houses was coming up for sale and today, it was listed. It’s an old cedar shingle house, surrounded by a beautiful veranda and huge trees. The current owner (he’s lived there for 30+ years) is an architect and has made some modifications, but left others intact.imageThe house has seven bedrooms and six baths over more than 7,000 square feet. It’s also got over an acre of property, although much of that is steeply sloped. In the spring, it’s filled with hundreds of daffodils.imageMuch of the house’s original detailed woodwork is still intact, and in many ways, it reminds me of our old house.image

imageI love that they’ve kept the old butler’s pantry. imageThere’s a huge three-story staircase, capped with a skylight. image

imageLike our house, this one has a huge top floor playroom. We used to smack tennis balls against the end walls. imageI love the porch with feels like you’re dining in the tree-tops!imageOne of the other fun things about this property is the little covered spring on the back hill. My brother talks about jogging with our old dog, and then sitting at the spring to cool off.

The listing for the house is here, so take a look.

June 13, 2017

BIG Sale at McLain-Wiesand–You MUST Go!

My friend, the amazing and talented David Wiesand, owner and brain behind McLain-Wiesand, the furniture-makers, is having a once-in-a-lifelong-time sale! His works are sold through some of the top showrooms and are made here in Baltimore. His warehouse/workshop is a  trove of fascinating bits and pieces.IMG_2620David has an incredible eye and even his left-overs are treasures! He has gathered things over the years, some in pristine condition, (should you want to give someone last rites), IMG_2601

and some pieces in a little worse shape. IMG_2616

This grape lantern/chandelier is a lot of fun. David and I were at an auction in rural Pennsylvania, when he found it. The piece needs some re-wiring, but it could be amazing. Even the leaves are glass!IMG_2630

Should you be inclined to open your own church, David’s got you covered, from Holy Water to candles!IMG_2602IMG_2623IMG_2624

If you are a creative DIY sort, there are plenty of bits and pieces to use. IMG_2611IMG_2621IMG_2625IMG_2627

There is also artwork, IMG_2631

mirrors, IMG_2633

lighting, IMG_2617

sculptures and castings, IMG_2607

and much more.IMG_2638

What did I want, you ask? How about this fabulous trophy to add to my using-odd-things-as-vases collection.IMG_2606

Here are the details: McLain Wiesand Custom Furniture & Decorative Arts 1013 Cathedral St, Baltimore, Maryland 21201 Thursday, June 15 and Friday, June 16 from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Hope to see you there!