In 1915, as Baltimore celebrated the centennial of the start of the Washington Monument and a time capsule was placed in its base, new home construction popped up here and there around the city. In Roland Park, near the water tower, a small cluster of brick rowhouses was built.

The time capsule has been unearthed and those homes still stand, graceful in their age. Set back, with a hedge and courtyard providing a barrier between the homes and the busy street, the three-story houses with nearly identical floor plans are now home to a friendly group of neighbors, including Jim and Deborah Naylor.

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The Naylors bought their 3,400-square-foot house in 2004; eight years later, they hired David Sutphen of Southfen Restoration Home Builder to design and manage a restoration project that would clean up the house, while maintaining — and in some cases, uncovering — its historical roots.

"It's interesting, when you walk through the 12 homes, how many different adaptations have occurred," says Jim Naylor, a marketing consultant. "We were really drawn to this because it was so close to the original floor plan, with many of the original elements of the house."

When the Naylors first fell in love their Roland Park rowhouse, they were no strangers to older houses. For years, the couple and their three children lived in a large Lutherville Victorian that is on the National Register of Historic Places. "It was beautiful to live in but a nightmare to maintain and heat," says Jim Naylor with a laugh, recalling the many hours of sweat equity he poured into keeping the house in good condition.

"What's nice about this house is that it's old and has all the character, but the renovations are much easier. You can paint a room in a day," says Deborah Naylor, a psychologist in private practice.

The Naylors tackled jobs like interior painting themselves, but they turned the bulk of the project over to Sutphen. "What he did was come in and look at the home and try to determine what the original footprint was and try to [revert] back to that character," says Jim Naylor.

With Sutphen's help, the Naylors kept as many of the original features as possible, including all the windows. Though they had to replace the wood floors on the main level, the second- and third-level floors are original. As was the trend when the house was built, the quality of the wood used in the floor declines on each level of the home. For its original owners, the home's first level would have been the main entertaining space, where high-quality floors were most important. The second floor was living space for the family, and the third floor was reserved for servants, and the difference in the floors there is still noticeable now.

The kitchen occupies a small space, but renovating it was a major undertaking thanks to previous mediocre updates.

"It was a white IKEA kitchen. It was such a disconnect," says Jim Naylor. "It just looked like a sore thumb. It was white cabinets, red walls and just not a great look."

Though the Naylors did not have any photographic evidence of how their home looked when it was built, Sutphen was able to use elements of the home itself as a reference. Just outside the kitchen, an original butler's pantry provided inspiration for the custom cabinets built for the new kitchen. "He said that bringing those elements into the kitchen would pay homage" to the original home, says Jim Naylor.

The kitchen is in the middle of the first floor; just behind it is a small breakfast room that may have once been a summer kitchen. During the restoration, Sutphen discovered some of the home's original brick hiding behind drywall in the breakfast nook. Now exposed, the brick adds warmth and tangible history to the space.

The kitchen counters are black granite treated with a chemical process, making the surface rougher and duller than most granite countertops. "Dave thought it would be more similar to the original style of the house," says Naylor.

The rest of the main floor includes a front hall, living room, dining room and small sitting room, all with large openings spilling over into one another. Outfitted with period antiques purchased at shops from Baltimore to Virginia to the Eastern Shore, these rooms show off the Naylors' dedication to history.

Though the Naylors' Lutherville home was outfitted with furniture consistent with the time period of the Roland Park house, the couple realized when they moved that they needed to make some changes to stay in concert with the scale and location of their new home. They knew they would keep some furniture, which they inherited from Deborah Naylor's family, but they also began talking with antiques shop owners about what pieces would have existed in a city home in 1915.

Armed with that knowledge, the Naylors traded some of their "country home" furniture for polished pieces now found in the new house — including a grandfather clock built in 1915 by Elliott of London.

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Despite the couple's dedication to history, the Naylors' house does not feel like a museum. In addition to the pieces the couple inherited from Deborah's family, photos of their children dot the walls and small items scattered throughout are nods to the family's history. In the kitchen, a wooden shelf holds mementos from the children's births and other small items, like a stopwatch that belonged to Jim's father, a city bus driver whose route included Roland Avenue.

Throughout the home, rooster-related artwork pops up here and there. "It started with a poster we found, with a rooster," says Jim Naylor. "Then in one of these decorating frenzies, it was all roosters. It's an addiction."

On the second floor, the Naylors combined two rooms to create one larger master bedroom, which includes a fireplace; a second bedroom and bathroom are also on that floor. The third floor includes bath with the original clawfoot tub, two smaller bedrooms and a third room, which Jim Naylor uses as an office.

From the third-floor hallway, a glance down the steps reveals an opening in the center of the house, stretching from the first floor up to the third. The intent of the design was to improve air flow throughout the home.

The Naylors discovered just how successful that design element was thanks to two mishaps during the renovation process: a machine malfunction that blew brick dust throughout the house, followed by a small basement fire that lead to fire extinguisher chemicals being blown throughout as well. Both events required the Naylors to move out of the home and into a hotel during the cleanup process — and to cultivate a very close relationship with their dry cleaner.

Though painful at the time, moving in and out helped the Naylors appreciate just how much they love their home in its newly restored state.

"We wanted to do the work and enjoy the fruits, not do the work and sell the house," says Jim Naylor. "So now we have a brand-new 100-year-old house." And though in a few years, they say they may move again, for now, they are enjoying every minute in their "new" old home.

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