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Home Mediation

An early-20th-century Georgian Revival returns to its residential roots.

Project: The Friary, Annapolis, MD

Architect: Charles E. Anthony Architects, PC, Annapolis, MD; Charles E. Anthony, principal

General Contractor: ILEX Construction, Baltimore, MD

By Annabel Hsin

Built in the 1920s and modeled after the James River plantations of Westover and Carter’s Grove, a five-part Georgian Revival house is sited on a bluff overlooking the Severn River in Annapolis, MD. In the 1940s, the house was purchased by the Catholic Church to use as a friary; with the addition of two wings, St. Conrad’s Friary accommodated more than 60 Capuchin monks. The wings housed a five-story dormitory, a cafeteria with a commercial kitchen and a chapel.

As the Capuchin numbers dwindled in the 1970s, the friary was sold and went through a series of owners, remaining largely uninhabited for the next three decades. After several renovation attempts and an asbestos-removal process that left much of the plaster finishes damaged, the property was in severe disrepair. Prospective buyers were also daunted by the strict environmental regulations that limited development to pre-existing impervious surfaces.

Charles E. Anthony, principal of Annapolis, MD-based Charles E. Anthony Architects, first encountered the friary in the 1990s, but the then-owners decided against a massive renovation project. They sold the property to the current owners, who hired Anthony for the renovation.

“The current owners were much more ambitious,” says Anthony. “They were not necessarily interested in a strict historic preservation project. There was always this idea that the central part of the house would be restored but as you went upstairs the rigor of the restoration would diminish a bit. The clients were looking for a comfortable house where they could live and entertain – a home more open to views and exterior spaces, and one with all the modern conveniences.”

While many of the original exterior details, such as the hipped roofs, slate tiles, dentil cornices, massive brick chimneys and brick exterior were restored, new dormers were added on the roof and all of the window openings on the main elevation and hyphens were enlarged. A porch with Tuscan columns and Classical details surrounds a new front entry with the existing leaded-glass transom above replicated double doors. Heavy window surrounds extending from the porch and pilasters harmonize floor-to-ceiling windows with the traditional Georgian façade.

On the first floor, the entry hall, front room, dining and music rooms were restored with 18th-century architectural detailing. The molding in the entry hall arch and heart-pine floors throughout were cleaned and preserved along with the mantels and marble fireplace surrounds in the front and dining rooms. “The plaster ceiling in the dining room was damaged during the asbestos removal,” says Anthony. “There were parts that had been torn up. Molds were made from the undamaged pieces that were then used to create the replacement pieces. Now it’s completely seamless.”

Taking advantage of the southern exposures and river views, the kitchen and a screened porch are located beyond the hyphen on the south side. Painted wood cabinets are complemented with stone island and counter tops imported from India. “As we moved out of the central core of the house, we were less literal in our historic applications,” says Anthony. “The kitchen is not Georgian; it’s for a modern family but the details are traditional.”

The main stair hall – a floating stairway of antique loblolly heart pine – was relocated to the northern hyphen so the master suite, which includes a sitting area and dressing lounge with a walk-in shower room, could occupy the second level of the original house.

The existing connection to the two wings at the rear consisted of four spaces that were dark and cramped with multiple sets of stairs. It was torn down for a conservatory and rotunda. “It was an awkward space,” says Anthony. “The connection is a point where all the geometry collided. The conservatory became the hub of the plan and even the massing of the house. The idea was to make it bigger and more open.”

A family room, pool pavilion, game room and guest rooms are housed in the northern wing – previously the five-story dormitory, which was demolished to the first-floor level. The family room’s arched windows and double doors were inspired by orangeries found in traditional Georgian homes and its limestone cornice, pilaster and balusters on the exterior complement the adjacent pool pavilion, limestone terraces and a 60-ft.-long infinity edge pool.

“We were constrained by some of the local environmental regulations because of the close proximity to the steep slopes and water,” says Anthony. “We were limited to building over developed land so the existing driveway was the only place for the pool. However, rather than having the pool a level below the main living areas, we raised it to just a few steps below the first floor. The new garage is now underneath the pool terrace and green roof.”

The chapel in the south wing was repurposed into a great hall. Existing light fixtures and timber beam trusses with metal ties were restored while new herringbone-patterned teak floors, walnut wainscoting and trim and a limestone fireplace were installed. Circular windows were also added above arched double doors that lead to a terrace, which is supported by a brick arcade. Below the chapel, a skittle court was converted into a spa and indoor pool.

The general contractor for the project was ILEX Construction of Baltimore, MD, and key subcontractors included Masterpieces Unlimited of Phoenix, MD (finish carpentry); Corinthian Stoneworks & Design of Glenn Dale, MD (limestone fabrication and installation); Blickenstaff Construction of Westminster, MD (brick masonry); Cole Roofing of Baltimore, MD (green roof); Artisan Glass Works of Baltimore, MD (leaded glass repairs); Tradewood Windows & Doors of Crofton, MD; Dynamic Windows of Monkton, MD; Plastering Specialties of Baltimore, MD; and Bay Floors of Arnold, MD (wood floors).

After nearly a decade of planning and construction, the once dilapidated friary is now a comfortable home that still retains its historic roots. “Ideally, there is a storyline that makes sense of the house when you’re done,” says Anthony. “It was a Georgian house that was taken over by a church, who added a large chapel and a lot more. That’s part of the story we didn’t want to change. But in making the shift back to a residence, there was such a disparity in scale and stylistic range between the various parts of the house, I felt it needed mediation, not another puzzle piece. That’s what we tried to do.”  

 

 

 
 

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