In his 130-year-old Victorian rowhouse near Union Square, Paul Taylor has settled into a lifestyle that combines city conveniences with country pleasures.
His three-story brick home in the first block of North Calhoun Street is a short walk to Hollins Market and other city attractions. Its fenced-in back yard is large enough for a grape arbor and numerous fruit trees, plus running space for Mike, a 2-year-old Doberman.
Mr. Taylor, who bought the house six years ago, says he has always enjoyed city living. "I don't think I could live any other way," he says. "I like the conveniences."
The biggest convenience for the past year has been that his job is just eight blocks away at Bon Secours Hospital. He works in the human resources department and is involved in educational programs. Previously, he had commuted to Washington.
"I kind of feel I'm working above the store," he says.
The home's back yard was a big draw for him. The quarter-acre lot gives him a feeling of roominess and a place to garden and eat outdoors.
It's large for a city lot because there used to be three homes there. "I get three tax bills," Mr. Taylor says.
"It's kind of a little oasis in the summertime and the spring. . . . In the summer it's a real lush place."
Six years ago, he returned to the area after working in the Middle East for six years. He had owned a house in Washington at one time and knew he didn't want to assume a large mortgage again. So, he rented in Baltimore while getting to know the city.
He heard about the Hollins Market area, which is home to a city market, several quirky restaurants and a number of artists, and which would be convenient for his commute to Washington.
One day, while Mr. Taylor was walking on Calhoun Street, a man working on a house stopped him and tried to interest him in the house. Mr. Taylor bit. "The price was right," he says. Mr. Taylor said he paid $65,000 for the four-bedroom, 2 1/2 -bath house.
The previous owner, who had spent five years rehabbing the house, couldn't just walk away, however. With Mr. Taylor's permission, he threw a party for about 150 people in the back yard to celebrate selling the home. The man also convinced Mr. Taylor to let his Doberman stay on.
The dog has since died, but Mr. Taylor said he liked her so much, he adopted another one. He also has two cats.
Mr. Taylor has created a comfortable home with artwork and furniture from his time in Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
The living room and dining room, which are connected, each have a marble fireplace. A winding staircase leads to the second floor, where Mr. Taylor spends time in his den. An outdoor porch off the laundry room overlooks the garden. The third floor is where guests stay.
Mr. Taylor has become an advocate for the neighborhood. He belongs to the Hollins Market and Union Square associations and has participated in citizen patrols. The environs have improved in recent years, he said. For example, the city picks up trash from the alleys more regularly.
"I've seen a lot of changes since I've lived here," he said. "There's a lot of potential around here."