Dick and Mickey Price stand in the vestibule of their dream home. It is built on farm land which has been in Dick's family since 1916.
Dick and Mickey Price stand in the vestibule of their dream home. It is built on farm land which has been in Dick's family since 1916. (Barbara Haddock Taylor, Baltimore Sun)

Rick and Mickey Price live on a 340-acre farm in northern Baltimore County. Their rambling, two-story farmhouse sits high and exposed on the land's crest, with acres upon acres rolling softly below and the nearest neighbor over a quarter-mile away.

While their house has an old-homestead, Colonial feel, it was custom-built just 11 years ago. The couple's story is inextricably intertwined with the house, which along with their marriage, is a study in new beginnings.

"Dick, his first wife and my late husband and I knew each other for over 40 years," said Mickey Price, 79, explaining that they were all involved in the Maryland South Delaware district of the Optimists. "When our spouses passed, we started to date [and] got married in 1997. I moved to Dick's home on the farm."

Dick Price, 81, was raised on the farm, and followed in his father's footsteps, running a own dairy. Nowadays, he buys cattle in the spring and sells them in the fall, while renting out a great deal of land to grow corn and soybeans.

"Mickey adjusted quickly to being a farmer's wife, and we both enjoyed the pleasures of bringing our families together," he said. "For numerous reasons, after living three years in the [circa 1848] farmhouse, we made the decision to build a new home on the farm [that] we both could call ours."

They chose the highest point on the farm to build their home. The views would always remain the same because the land has been protected in the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Program. After the decision to build, Dick Price took it upon himself to design his own floor plan, beginning with a family room built around a massive Butler stone fireplace adjacent to an open kitchen. Every doorway and all of the hallways were designed to accommodate a wheelchair, if necessary. A first-floor master suite with a walk-in shower was also part of the plan.

"We were thinking that since we were both [older], we would be able to handle whatever might be," Mickey Price said. "We did not know how to put a roof on our plan, so we took our drawing to an architect, who put a roof on the house. Our builder did the rest, [and] our dream home was born."

With 5,200 square feet of living space, the traditional Maryland farmhouse-style home was built to accommodate large gatherings of combined families that include five children, 10 grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.

"At Christmas, we hang 24 stockings on the fireplace mantle," Mickey Price said. "We put two large tables together in the dining room, and everyone gathers for a Christmas Day brunch."

A two-story entrance hall beyond the north-facing front door reveals a winding oak staircase to the open hallway above. There, three bedrooms and two full bathrooms are laid out in an open flow overlooking the hall below. In a touch of whimsy, the couple rigged three animated toy figurines riding on individual tightropes affixed to the bottoms of the wooden railings to diagonally cross the open space above and below. "We couldn't take it down; the grandchildren love it," Dick Price said.

The living room and dining room on the first floor, as well as the master suite, feature Colonial decor, with furniture mostly crafted of mahogany and dating to the 1940s. Mickey Price notes the furnishings are a "yours, mine and ours" creation, with certain touches custom-designed, such as the multi-tiered silk draperies in the living room and dining rooms.

Family antiques are found throughout the home, including oak hutches and an oak pie safe and a large spinning wheel. An 1862 rifle hangs above the stone fireplace's antique wood mantel. The couple owns 35 signed and framed Wallace Nutting landscape prints, which grace the walls in almost every room, as well as four 19th-century Currier & Ives prints.

An island diivides Mickey Prices's favorite area of the house, the combined country kitchen and family room.

"We are like an island with our farm surrounded by land," said Mickey Price, looking out over their property, binoculars in hand to glimpse the wildlife. "So here I am, starting my 15th year as a farmer's wife, and every day is a blessing."

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Making the dream

Dream location From the back of the house, the couple can see York Road buildings and houses in Sparks, as well as plenty of deer, fox and other wildlife.

Dream realized "Mickey and I spent months sketching the floor plan of the home, each perfecting details of things and designs that would meet our needs of today and dreams of tomorrow," said Rick Price. "Not being architects, we gave the plans to a local architect, Robert Bayer, who completed the design of [our] dream house. A well-known builder, Michael Riley, jumped at the opportunity to make the one-of-a-kind home a reality."

Dream design: In a home characterized by fine touches of colonial design, such as pocket doors and ceiling and chair moldings, modern fittings are found in every room of the house and include 2.5 miles of basement piping to provide radiant heat throughout the home. All of the five bathrooms are full ones with tubs and showers included. The full basement, which is not included in the home's overall square footage, is open and can accommodate over 100 guests at several round and square tables. There is also a sitting area in the basement that has been the setting for two weddings, as well as Optimist and church receptions. The entire home space comes in handy: In addition to having a large combined familiy, Mickey Price is the executive director of Childhood Cancer Family Support Services Inc.