Enchanted: Bears have left the cottage
ADDRESS: 1840 Fendall Avenue
YEAR BUILT: 1925
SIZE: 1,692 fin. sq. ft.
LAND: 0.293 acres
CURB APPEAL: 8 of 10
LISTED BY: Rick Dreher Real Estate III 951-7002
Back in the '50s and '60s on a wooded tract north of Baltimore, "The Enchanted Forest"– a sweet remnant of more innocent times– offered children a chance to sit in Cinderella's pumpkin coach, climb the stairs in Rapunzel's castle, or visit the crooked little man with his crooked little cat in his crooked little house.
Fendall Avenue between Rugby Avenue and Barracks Road is a bit like the Enchanted Forest. On the rainy day we visited, it gave the impression of a woodsy hideaway with a variety of unusual houses, at least five or six of them stone, some of them mossy and mysterious (one super modern one we'll overlook). This little storybook house is typical. It looks as though Mama, Papa, and Baby Bear have just moved out.
The color scheme of the place is one of the most obvious indications that former residents had a whimsical bent that would have been right at home in the EF. But the whole design of the house contributes to the impression of fanciful enchantment.
A bright blue front door opens to a tiny entryway with ornate woodwork and a narrow winding stairway to the second level. To the right, a medium-sized living room has a huge arched fireplace, wide paneling from floor to chair rail, floors stained almost black, exposed dark ceiling beams, and a deep window seat that looks exactly like a place Grandma, wrapped in a quilt, might have awaited Little Red Riding Hood's arrival. Enchanted Forest element: all that beautiful woodwork is painted candy apple red.
The bay window over the window seat looks out to the patio and lets in some much-needed light. Off the living room a tiny enclosed slate-floored patio leading to a tiny rock-walled utility room with the washer/dryer would be a great place for morning coffee if it weren't so far from the kitchen. Maybe an auxiliary pantry can be created in the utility room.
To the left of the entryway, a small dining room opens to a galley kitchen with some fetching old glass-front cabinets over Formica counters. Beyond the deep-set window over the sink nice views of the low patio wall and wisteria-covered pergola give way to the big shady backyard. It almost seems that if you look carefully, you might see goblins hopping about.
Off the kitchen, a former garage has been converted to the master suite. That's not so unusual, but some complications come with a 1925 rock cottage garage: elaborate exposed trusses and supports propping up the heavy slate roof. Whoever decided to convert the garage wisely decided not to add a phony dropped acoustic-tile ceiling, instead opting to leave the maze of wood supports visible.
In the small but ultramodern bath, subsequent owners added what appears to be a multi-option waterfall shower that looks like it could provide all the treatments of an upscale spa– under a skylight among the trusses and struts. EF element: overhead, everything is painted cotton candy pink.
The bedroom itself has wall-to-wall over the original cement floor and a new gas-burning fireplace that echoes the arched original in the living room.
Upstairs two bedrooms flank a central full bath, which is also an architectural novelty, with a strange tub configuration and built-in vanity. No one skimped on the tile here, thank heaven, more evidence of 1925 sensibilities.
The slate roof is a beauty, the heating and AC have been updated (city gas fires great old radiators), and the landscaping looks professional in every respect– especially the soapstone patio and foundation plantings. There is no basement and only room for storage above the second level.
Someone smitten with the obvious oddball charm of this place– but who has balanced readings in folklore with postmodern lit– might want to update the kitchen, adopt a tamer color scheme, and think of some ways to bring more light to the living room.
An eccentric Hans Christian Andersen devotée, on the other hand, can move right in and live happily ever after.
PHOTOS BY ROSALIND WARFIELD-BROWN