Dream home: Ruxton carriage house is perfect roost for Watts family

Richard (Dick) Watts outside his carriage home in Baltimore's Ruxton neighborhood.
Richard (Dick) Watts outside his carriage home in Baltimore's Ruxton neighborhood. (Brendan Cavanaugh/P3 Imaging Inc, BALTIMORE SUN)

Back in 1967, Dick Watts, a widower with two young sons, was renting the carriage house on the large estate of Philip Poe, a descendant cousin of Edgar Allan Poe. He was comfortable living down the hill from the manor house, which backs up to Roland Run in Ruxton.

"He used to walk along the property, and one day he said to me, 'This is where you want to raise your boys,'" remembers Dick Watts, 82, who at the time was a coach and director of the athletic department at UMBC. "He said it would be $30,000 to buy it and he took $150 down and financed the rest at 5 percent!"

That was in 1969, around the time he started a swimming pool company which his boys, Ricky and David, now run. In 1970, he remarried.

"The boys were my wedding presents," said Marcie Watts, now a 62-year-old homemaker, golfer and grandmother. The couple have two children together – Allen and Page.

"This house was a blank slate when I moved in," Marcie Watts recalled. "My mother-in-law helped me out quite a bit. It was tough in the beginning, but we made do with a few antiques."

The couple also began renovating. They enclosed the open side porch for $2,500 in 1972. It is now a den/TV room used mostly by Marcie Watts. A small kitchen addition and an outdoor pool were added later.

Several years later, the couple decided to make bigger changes.

"We wanted a big addition and we wanted the new to blend with the old," said Marcie Watts.

They put their furniture in storage and began working with architect Henry Warfield and Stephen A. Williams, president of Crossroads Building Inc. The project took about six months and added an additional 2,000 square feet — first and second level — to the west side of the home, giving the couple a total of 4,000 square feet of living space. The addition includes a kitchen and hall to a study and a two-car garage on the ground level with a master suite on the second level.

From the French doors in the new kitchen, the barn, which was once a smokehouse, is in view, along with a bird feeder attracting goldfinches, cardinals and blue jays in a bevy of moving primary colors.

The kitchen features rich maple cabinetry and an impressive 6-foot-by-7-foot center island with two columns supporting the ceiling beam.

The new study has cherry paneling and built-in shelving units by Ross Smith. A carved cherry wood fireplace looms over a brick opening and hearth. In what is clearly a masculine-designed room, the walls and shelves display mementos from Dick Watts' long career as a lacrosse player and coach, including membership in the Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

Above the study on the second level, the master suite is an enchanting example of Colonial style with cherry furniture and a brick fireplace, topped by a traditional wooden multi-molded mantel painted white.

Three other bedrooms and two bathrooms serve as guest accommodations.

The living and dining rooms back on the first level — original to the 1894 carriage house — are tastefully decorated in a southern Colonial style, with fine reproductions and antiques artfully blending in both rooms. Of particular interest is an original Jacob Fry grandfather clock adorned with finials above the clock face and the initials of a family ancestor.

The soft shades of green and rose mesh together. Delicate floral wallpaper by Osborne & Little defines the dining room decor as much as the mahogany Duncan Phyfe-style furniture, including a large double pedestal table. Corner cabinets, original to the house and also painted soft green, are filled with Royal Cauldon china.

"I can't imagine living anywhere else; when you're home you're home," said Dick Watts, adding "I used to say, 'Bury me in the back yard.'"

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If you go

Dream element: Dick and Marcie Watts live in a renovated carriage house that once was part of the estate of Philip Poe, a descendent cousin to Edgar Allan Poe. The house, in northern Baltimore County, dates to 1894 and sits on 11/2 acres. Six other houses, four of which are former estate outbuildings, are staggered in train garden fashion around the estate.

Dream design: Best described as a Dutch Colonial, the main portion of the house features a second-story that juts out in dormer style from a deeply pitched roof. A front porch covers the entrance with two sturdy Doric columns supporting a pediment.

Dream interior: The original interior design includes a center hallway with dining room and formal parlor on either side. Marcie Watts has chosen traditional furniture peppered with antiques and antique reproductions.

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