During a preview tour for the Baltimore Messenger on April 5, the Hamiltons' daughter, Charlotte, 3, curled up on a sofa, watching a big-screen TV in a cozy den off the marble-accented country kitchen.

The family's dogs, Yorkies Moxie and Bruiser, barked madly in their kennel, which is built into the inside of a kitchen island.

"We love this kitchen," Douglas Hamilton said. "This is where we spend most of our time."

Also notable is Turnbull's old studio, where steps in the bell tower lead to a decorative corner alcove with a single, tiny stained glass window.

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Several 12-foot totems that Turnbull carved with religious imagery, a favorite theme of hers, are lashed strategically to the house and studio. Turnbull stood on a ladder and carved them in place, the Hamiltons said. Another totem lies flat while the family figures out what to do with it. It was sold at auction but Douglas' father tracked it down and bought it back for them as a Christmas gift last year.

The epicenter of the house is its high-ceilinged, wood-paneled parlor, or great room, where the couple sat at a plain wooden table, drinking coffee and showing old photos of Turnbull mowing her lawn and making sculptures. Doors to the upstairs bedrooms open off a balcony that wraps around the parlor.

Artwork by Douglas Hamilton's brother, Palden, and late great-aunt, Elaine Hamilton, hang on the balcony walls. Elaine Hamilton's wrought-iron chandeliers from France hang above the room. A 1919 Chickering piano sits in the parlor.

Ready for its close-up

The house still has a few problems. The parlor is a little dark because of all its heavy wood. And, says Angela Hamilton, "There really isn't a garden, so we're working on that."

A landscaper is coming before the tour and a lot of cleaning, detail and decorating work remains to be done, the Hamiltons said. Decorating may be the most difficult, because, "We can't agree on anything," Douglas Hamiilton said. "This is a difficult house, because it has such a strong character."

But he promised, "We'll be ready. We recognize that it's a house that people are interested in from a historical standpoint. We're just trying to keep it alive."

Tickets for the tour are $30 and optional lunch boxes are $15. Make checks payable to Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage, care of the Guilford Association, 4200 St. Paul St., Suite 100, Baltimore, MD 21218. Tickets also can be purchased online at http://www.mhgp.org. Proceeds will benefit Sherwood Gardens. For more information about the tour and Guilford's centennial celebration, call Ann Giroux at 410-889-6484.