When Washingtonian couple Beverly and Peter Jost decided to buy a home on Gibson Island, they wanted a spot that would serve as a getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life while also providing a reprieve for their three children and six grandchildren.
That’s what they got in their eight-bedroom, five full- and two half-bathroom “simple farmhouse,” the oldest standing home on the exclusive island, according to Gibson Island Corporation Real Estate, the official brokerage for the 1,000-acre, 200-home community.
“Every grandchild has a room,” she says as she sits in the sun room, which overlooks a 14-foot-by-28-foot pool that’s ideal for daily morning swims and for cooling off after gardening. “They come here and love it. This is a grandparent’s home. That was my goal.”
Their picturesque family gathering place didn’t start off as utopia. Prior to the Josts moving in, the home was empty for 10 years.
“It needed some TLC,” she says, adding that they had to replace all 45 windows in the home due to rot. “But I saw it and thought ‘I think I can bring the house back.’ It had many littler bedrooms. I could gather my entire family.”
The Josts, who have been married for 47 years and also have an apartment in Georgetown, worked as a team to get the house back into working order, she explains. Peter Jost, a D.C. lawyer, oversaw the changes (a heating and air conditioning overhaul, for example) while Beverly was in charge of beautifying the home.
“I refer to myself as a mad decorator,” she says with a laugh.
It has taken the couple more than a decade to get the home to where it is today.
“We did this by degrees,” Beverly Jost says.
Most of the changes to the property have been cosmetic. The pool — added four years ago — and a fenced 24-foot square vegetable and flower garden at the bottom of the property’s sloping backyard were the most drastic changes to the property.
“It was pretty rustic,” she recalls. “We just freshened it up. We tried to keep it simple.”
Beautifying the grounds surrounding the brick-and-stone home was one of the first things that the couple did when they bought the home, she says.
They hired Washington, D.C.-based landscape architect Molly Scott to help create a lush paradise that attracts an array of butterflies, hummingbirds and dragonflies. Scott also designed their pool.
Peter Jost is partial to the sun room, which is peppered with beachy wood-woven furniture and a series of nautical maps of the Annapolis region.
He explains that he loves the water and taking his grandchildren out for rides in his 28-foot-long Bertram boat.
“It’s a good fishy boat,” he says.
Just off from the sun room is a living room in a shade of white — “Archive” by British paint and wallpaper brand Farrow & Ball.
Beverly Jost describes the living room as “the heart of the house.”
She adds: “With a big, roaring fire it’s nice.”
The room, which has a French-meets-English countryside feel, is bursting with warmth — due in part to the use of family heirlooms and pieces the couple have acquired through travels over the years.
For example, two Samurai swords displayed on shelves near the fireplace are from Peter Jost’s grandfather, who purchased them during World War II.
About a dozen books bound in a crimson hue line the top shelf of the bookcase. They’re a collection of Charles Dickens’ works.
“I got them from my grandmother,” Beverly Jost explains, adding that she has an affinity for “Great Expectations.”
A shelf below, three wooden rectangles with painted images of religious figures are evenly spaced. The couple found them at a black market in the early 1990s in Saint Petersburg, Russia, when Peter Jost’s law firm had an office there. A shelf below that are metallic gold-accented “trinkets” from an early ’90s trip to India.
The Josts didn’t purchase any furniture or decor for the Gibson Island home. They moved existing furniture from their home in Georgetown.
“Everything tells a story,” she says. “It’s not sleek. It’s real.”
The Josts have tried to maintain the old farmhouse feel of the home, which was built in 1810.
The kitchen is the only room in which almost everything has been replaced. The couple replaced old tile with a wood floor that is painted in a large gray-and-black diamond pattern. But they kept a 1930s zinc sink that features an s-curve divide.
“I saw it featured in an old magazine,” Beverly Jost says as she points to one side, that contains her haul for the day — a colander filled with bright green okra from her garden.
The nearby dining room feels more like a family room.
“I was trying to make it look less formal,” she says in reference to the large rectangular zinc table surrounded by English Chippendale chairs.
The walls are adorned with Beverly Jost’s paintings of her six grandchildren.
“I paint all of them at the age of 3,” she says as she walks past the near life-sized paintings. “They think this is a magical place.”
The basement has been converted into a play area for the kids. The youngsters also like to play in an area that they call “the cave,” which the couple believes was a small root cellar. Adults have to crouch to enter.
“The legend is that this was used for the Underground Railroad,” Beverly Jost says, sharing that she’s a history buff who has been a member of the Gibson Island Historical Society. “But that’s highly unlikely because the owners of the house were not Quakers.”
The upper levels of the home,where the grandchildren’s bedrooms are located, contain several antique toys and an heirloom wooden white and green doll house that Beverly Jost’s father built for her. The grandchildren also play with an antique rectangular structure used in children’s operettas called a litter that she purchased in Paris during the early 1990s.