Historic mill has lots of elbow room


When Deane and Marty Blazie's growing computer business was still crowded into the basement of a 2,500-square-foot home in a Churchville development, Mr. Blazie was certain that there wasn't a house built that was big enough to suit the needs of his firm and his family of five.

"Nobody has enough room in their house," he said. "No matter how much you have it's never enough."

But he changed his mind in 1988, after a real estate broker told him about a 7,500-square-foot historic miller's house, a 19th-century mill and 100 acres of Harford County farmland available through a bankruptcy foreclosure sale. He bought the property for about $310,000.

"I really wanted a farm," Mr. Blazie said. "And once we saw the house we fell in love with it . . . how beautiful it was and the uniqueness of it. It was after we moved in -- as a result of living there and feeling the history behind it -- that we really got interested in historic property and fixing up the old mill."

Their find is in Mill Green, a 19th-century rural industrial village that was recently listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The home has been greatly enlarged since miller William Ashmore built the three-room, 13-by-18-foot rubble-stone house in the 1770s.

Today the house has plenty of space. The upstairs hall is lined with five bedrooms and three full bathrooms. The old section has a wine cellar, library and hobby room. Two pianos sit in the first-floor music room near the formal living and dining areas. And through the house there are five fireplaces.

The contemporary addition -- which enlarged the house about 20 years ago -- has a spacious, modern kitchen, glass-enclosed indoor pool and hot tub, an authentic 1950s-style soda fountain and an airy family room with a fireplace. French doors lead out to a narrow deck walkway that overlooks the beautifully landscaped yard and gazebo.

"It's a real nice blend of the very old and the new," Mr. Blazie said.

A few steps away is the mill, guest house, 12-car garage, tennis court and Broad Creek, where the Blazies go swimming and tubing. Their 10-year-old son, Stephen, has a favorite campsite and enjoys riding an all-terrain vehicle on the grounds. Their two older sons are grown now but often visit on weekends.

"This place had it," Mr. Blazie said. "It had more room than we needed. It's great for entertaining because it's big and there's a lot to see. . . . There's no need to go anywhere else for enjoyment."

Mr. and Mrs. Blazie, who are in their mid-40s, are partners in Blazie Engineering -- a firm that makes talking computers for people with vision problems. They operated the business in what is now the garage until a fire destroyed the building in 1991. Then they moved the firm away from their home to Forest Hill.

But they still use the guest house and extra bedrooms for visiting clients, relatives and friends. And they like to take visitors on tours of the mill and grounds.

"When you have guests . . . it's really nice to have a house for them," Mr. Blazie said. "It makes them feel at home, and it's great for business. Putting them up in their own house on a nice piece of property makes them want to . . . do business with us."

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