Falling within the ZIP code for the town of Kingsville in northern Baltimore County is the pre-Revolution mill village of Jerusalem on the banks of Little Gunpowder Falls. It is relatively unknown except to its few lucky residents, a handful of visitors and local historians.
Jana Von Bramer and her husband, Colin Dinnery, a park assistant at Gunpowder Falls State Park, are the owners of a historic fieldstone and river stone house at the edge of a narrow lane, just past a covered wooden bridge that purportedly is haunted. The house's half-acre is found on its south side — the main entrance — and behind the house, where a lawn drops down to Little Gunpowder Falls. On the other side of the Little Gunpowder, which separates Baltimore and Harford counties, is a state park.
"Welcome to Jubilee," said Von Bramer, using the name by which the circa 1771 house is known.
Von Bramer, 51, is sitting on the slate patio behind the house, enveloped in the shade of several varieties of old trees. "This is the oldest black walnut in Maryland — 300 years old," she said, indicating a tree nearby.
"This was a millkeeper's house, built by the brother of a Quaker millwright, Isaiah Linton, five years before the Revolutionary War. He owned and built seven mills in the area," said Von Bramer, a senior vice president of global marketing for the Baltimore-based company Prometric.
"As the name suggests, Jubilee means celebration," Von Bramer said. "I celebrate every day waking up in the home that I've come to call my own. [This house] was love at first sight combined with a unique sense of responsibility to keep special the property that has been silent witness to the founding of this great nation."
Von Bramer purchased the home in 2001 for $389,000. Updated by the former owners, it simply needed finishing touches. Never wavering from her sense of stewardship, Von Bramer has benefited enormously from the help given her by friends such as Pete Clark, a local historian and antique shop owner; Annapolis interior designer Gina Fitzsimmons; and finally, her English-born husband, whom she met while visiting Britain and married in 2010.
Heidi, a Chinese Spitz, follows her mistress through the 31/2-story house. A renovated kitchen and adjacent dining room with a hand-painted, stenciled floor and a large Norwegian wood stove are found on the first level beyond a family room addition. Narrow winding stairs, original to the structure, lead from one floor to the next, their wooden treads well worn in the center.
Furniture in the second floor's living room and office is a mixture of antique finds and family pieces. The Colonial period as well as the Victorian era and the mid-1920s and 1930s are found in furniture and accessories, such as authentic Colonial wing chairs, needlepoint pillows and Staffordshire bone china figurines.
The third level has a master bedroom and bath, while the last climb takes the visitor to the "Three Bears Room," so named because of the three beds, each dressed in a different colorful quilt resting all in a row next to a night table and a full bathroom. Von Bramer say her guests, especially ones with children, enjoy the accommodations.
"Well, now you've seen Jubilee," she said. "For me and the many others that came before, she offers a safe refuge and ... peace from the trials of life."
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