After living in Rye, N.Y., for many years and raising three children there, Geoff and Betsy Wadsworth wanted to retire in a city with a harbor on the Intracoastal Waterway.

"I pulled out a nautical chart, looked at the East Coast and said, 'What about Baltimore? If we don't like it, we'll go somewhere else,'" Geoff Wadsworth said. "We own a boat, and Baltimore is halfway between the Bahamas and Canada."


The couple, both 72, have not been disappointed with their decision to purchase a home in the East Baltimore neighborhood of Butchers Hill. Their three-story brick townhouse, built in about 1910, was damaged by a fire in 2003, which necessitated extensive renovation. Among the changes undertaken by a developer and finished off by the previous owner were a two-story addition to the rear of the home and two new exterior decks.

In August 2005, the Wadsworths paid $499,900 for the property, and went on to add many of their own interior details.

In the kitchen of the 2,400-square-foot home, the couple extended the cherry wood cabinetry that was already there, and they added a glass tile backsplash and crown molding.

"We replaced all the lighting in the house, all the doors and all the hardware," Geoff Wadsworth said. "Betsy did all the painting and woodwork."

Now that they have gotten used to the open layout that was created in the renovation, the couple like the contrast between the long, narrow home and the small cottage they owned in Rye. Keeping their design style traditional — with the furniture and antiques they've collected over the years — their only concern was how to define the main areas in the house.

They solved the problem by adding beams and corbels to the 13-foot ceilings. The corbels — architectural, bracket-like wood blocks jutting from a wall below a ceiling — visually separate the rooms without the construction of walls. Looking in from the front door, there is the distinct feel of a living room, a reception area near the staircase, a dining room and a kitchen.

The home's front door, purchased by the Wadsworths, is built of solid African mahogany in a traditional six-panel style. Inside, the home is open to the rear.

A paneled white wall stands out in the living room, with two built-in shelf units tucked into the paneling on either side of a gas fireplace. An oil painting over the fireplace is titled "Fall Landscape," painted by American artist William Merritt Post around 1910. Furnishings here include a floral-print sofa, occasional chairs upholstered in stripes and light green camelback sofa with tufted seat cushions. A predominantly red Oriental carpet covers the Brazilian cherry wood floors that are found throughout the home.

Also throughout the home is the couple's art collection. Their eclectic taste includes works of folk, modern, abstract and pop art, and romantic depictions of landscapes and buildings.

Beyond the living room, the dining room is traditionally furnished in mahogany pieces that include an Empire-style secretary/bookcase and a long dining table. Over the table is a Swarovski chandelier, its crystals hanging from a horizontal stainless-steel rod. The contrast in style is not lost on Betsy Wadsworth, who calls it "a contemporary play on a traditional form." Geoff Wadsworth considers this room his favorite because in addition to sitting at the table enjoying his wife's cooking, they have hung their best artwork here, such as a waterscape titled "Gloucester Harbor."

A guest bedroom, sitting room, bathroom and office are found on the second floor. A wide landing provides a spacious area for family heirlooms such as a writing desk and a carved mahogany bench.

Side-by-side antique twin beds fill the guest room, where two walls are painted a deep terra-cotta shade and the other two are painted cream. The traditional furniture is juxtaposed with a colorful abstract painting above the beds.

The long hallway toward the rear of the home serves as a gallery for framed family photographs. A combination sitting room and laundry room features an exposed brick wall where several of Geoff Wadsworth's own abstract works of art hang.

A combination office, studio and guest bedroom at the end of the hall has been painted light blue. A large framed print of a sailboat by maritime artist Christopher Blossom hangs over a sofa bed here. In the center of the room, an artist's tabletop and easel are filled with brushes and paints.


On the wall just ahead of the third-floor landing, a classic framed mola provides a stunning example of the art that is enjoyed and collected by the Wadsworths. Molas are bright, intricate pieces of embroidery consisting in part of animal or geometric designs, made mostly by the inhabitants of the San Blas Islands of Panama.

The master bedroom suite on this floor is filled with family antiques, coordinating furnishings and more artwork. Handmade silk draperies hang on the room's three windows. Over the double bed with a white leather headboard hangs an expressionist acrylic painting. Titled "Each in His Own Box," the piece was done by Butchers Hill artist Maxine Taylor. The muted shades of white, yellow, orange and tan accent the brick wall behind it.

One of the couple's favorite places to relax is on the first-level deck, which they refurbished themselves. Here, they are able to look into their garden.

"Having spent so much thought and time [on the house], it is now very satisfying just to look around and move from room to room," Geoff Wadsworth said.

Betsy Wadsworth agrees, adding that the move from their house in suburban New York to retire in Butcher's Hill was "quite a change, but it has exceeded our expectations."

The Wadsworth home is included on the annual Butchers Hill Annual House Tour, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 11. For more information, go to

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