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Changing places for a park view

Trent Waite wasn't new to the Butchers Hill area when he purchased a home there three years ago. He simply exchanged the renovated one he already had in the Baltimore neighborhood for another that was in desperate need of fixing up. His reasoning was sound: It wasn't enough to be near historic Patterson Park, he had to live directly across the street from it.

Today, the view from a front bedroom on the third floor of his now-restored circa 1883 home looks out at the park pagoda. A turn of the head to the back of the house is rewarded with a breathtaking view of the city skyline from a large deck.

Waite paid $222,000 for the house, where a 1920 addition on the back was literally blown to the rafters. He said in reference to rehabbing the kitchen, "I built a room on top of it and used old brick on the façade, [so] everyone thinks it's original to the house."

The property measures 16.5 feet wide by 155 feet deep with the interior depth coming in at 65 feet. While it sounds long and narrow, the home's 10-foot ceilings make it appear much grander. The original vestibule just beyond the iconic marble front steps welcomes the visitor. Another door leads to the front hall where an authentic, carved, walnut mirror from the 1880s sets the tone for the Victorian decor throughout the home.

After about $400,000 spent on renovations, the house still retains many of its original features, like the impressive walnut staircase to the third floor, heart of pine flooring and multiple wood moldings.

In a pleasantly surprising decor twist, Waite, a 50-year-old real estate agent, chose to place his dining room in the front of the house. Little wonder when marveling at the original Victorian suite on the first level. The centerpiece is a carved pedestal table, 4 feet wide and 10 feet long with the leaves, with matching high-back chairs and a stately breakfront with a marble-topped buffet and a carved hutch with glass doors revealing a silver and crystal collection.

One of Waite's favorite rooms, the kitchen at the rear of the home, has been completely renovated. Its spacious feel is derived from white cabinetry, where green granite countertops and a mosaic tile backsplash are cleanly embellished by upgraded stainless-steel appliances. Schoolhouse lamps over a cherry wood island topped with river stone granite make for a homey feel — almost as much as Waite's great-grandfather's kitchen utensils hanging on the wall opposite a crank wall phone.

"Notice the crown molding over the cabinets," he said. "They go almost to the ceiling which creates a shadow effect."

No detail, however small, has been overlooked in this restoration. Even the kitchen floors are fashioned from reclaimed joists of old pine taken from even older houses. Every door in the home, while not original to the structure, boasts five panels.

A composite deck just outside the back door offers a retractable awning overhead and iron railings overlooking a sizeable backyard leading to a garage.

The home's second level contains two very large bedrooms on opposite sides of the floor. The master bedroom facing the park features a coffered ceiling and an authentic Victorian suite that includes an armoire of carved mahogany with wood inlay and a matching carved bed frame with an imposing headboard. Equally impressive is the guest bedroom at the rear of the level, also decorated in Victorian fashion, and with a balcony that opens to a city view.

The third level holds another of the homeowner's favorite spots — the party room, with informal decor featuring exposed brick and wainscoting on the walls, as well as traditional microfiber and leather furniture gathered around a 60-inch flat-screen TV. The room also includes a cherry wood cabinet with granite countertop, sink and a wine cooler. It opens to an exposed deck over the second-story roof, where dramatic views of neighborhood rooftop decks and new construction give way to a background cityscape.

In the third-floor guest room on the park side, Trent shows off a plaque he received from the Baltimore Heritage Foundation naming his home the 2012 recipient of its "Historic Preservation Award."

Perhaps the best accolade for a restoration job well done is forthcoming, however. "My house is featured on the Butchers Hill House Tour on Oct. 15th," he said proudly.

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