Living in the shadow of the Naval Academy chapel, Ellis Richman and his wife, Dr. Ingrid Kohlstadt, are exactly where they want to be – nestled in the heart of historic Annapolis. Theirs is no ordinary house among a bevy of notable properties.
Woven into the rich tapestry of Colonial architecture that marks Maryland's capital city landscape are the grande dames of Queen Anne-style homes erected in the Victorian era.
The couple owns one of a twin pair of homes built in the early 1890s by lumber and hardware merchant Joseph S.M. Basil. And since their home stayed in the Basil family for over 85 years, the two were pleased to find it in such good condition — so much so that an ambitious plan on their part to remove the façade's exterior lead paint came with more than the satisfaction of a job well done.
"We received the 2009 Annapolis Historic Preservation Award for the restoration of the front exterior elevation of our home," noted Richman, a third- generation Annapolitan. "We also applied for a historic home marker and the Historic Annapolis Foundation decided, based on many factors, that our home represents this Victorian slice of historic homes."
Lisa Craig, chief of historic preservation for the city of Annapolis, points out the home's superb exterior as a "fine example of the Queen Anne style."
"Features that distinguish this property … include the front double window bays and projecting roof gable, the front dormer windows, the boxed cornice with modillions and dentils and the wood-paneled front entrance door with side lights, transom and a nicely detailed door cornice," she said.
If fine and accurate detail constitutes the spirit of the home, then the heart of it is the interior.
While less than 20 feet wide, once past the vestibule, the rooms travel deep into the property line, about 85 feet, including a contemporary addition at the rear of the home that the couple uses as a playroom for their two children, Raeha, 7, and Emmanuel, 4. Its five bedrooms on the second and third levels, along with three full bathrooms, accommodate friends and family who visit.
The home's furnishings are at once traditional, eclectic and whimsical. The living room, with its bull's-eye and dentil molding, has been painted a vibrant cadet blue, a rich backdrop for an antique American chestnut cupboard and a pair of intricately carved armoires.
Kohlstadt, who has practiced medicine on every continent, including Antarctica, has filled the home with memorabilia.
"The 70-pound petrified log in my office keeps its cool, no matter what," she said. "So did Ellis when I asked that we bring it with us from Indonesia."
She has also filled her home with brightly colored pieces of needlework, tapestries and gorgeous hand-knotted textiles that she drapes across furniture and hangs on the walls of her three-story, winding oak staircase.
"I find joy in restoring these fabrics and marvel at the hundreds of hours of handwork behind each beauty," she said.
For Kohlstadt, a physician nutrition specialist and faculty associate at the Johns Hopkins University, and Richman, a development director for NutriBee, a national nutrition program founded by his wife, their home is first and foremost about love and the pride inherent in a respect for tradition.
U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Donald Theodore Giles was a former owner and resident of their Victorian treasure.
"Honoring the home's rich naval history and the glorious view of the chapel, we share it each Commissioning Week with a family whose daughter or son is becoming an ensign in the U.S. Navy," Kohlstadt said. "[The] friendships formed through our involvement with the Naval Academy have enriched our lives tremendously."
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