Historic home is modern showcase Design: In the Slayton Show House in Annapolis, decorators set today's styles against an 18th-century backdrop.


The best of the old and the new have been blended together with style and savvy in a thoroughly modern yet historic show house in the heart of Annapolis.

Volunteers from the Historic Annapolis Foundation and interior designers from Maryland, Washington and New York have transformed a neglected 18th-century rowhouse into a designer showcase that is just right for a family of the '90s.

"Every historic structure does not have to be a museum," said Sharon Kennedy, executive co-chair for the Slayton Show House. "We want to show people that you can take historic buildings and make them livable for the 20th century. That's what preservation is all about."

For the next few weeks, visitors at 112 Duke of Gloucester St. will be welcomed into the fictional residence of the Ridebury family -- a husband, wife and two children created by the Historic Annapolis Foundation to give life to the project.

"It's a quite smashing house," said Marjory Segal, owner of the Well-Furnished Garden & Home in Bethesda, who designed a third-floor bedroom with antiques and teddy bears for 12-year-old Elizabeth Ride-bury. "There's a little bit of everything, and it blends very well together."

Organizers of the Slayton Show House -- which opened Friday with a coffee bar and a handful of boutiques -- hope to raise $100,000 to support the education and preservation programs of the Historic Annapolis Foundation.

Tied to the show house is a lecture, luncheon and book signing at 9 a.m. May 2 at St. John's College, which will spotlight internationally noted interior designer Nina Campbell, horticulturist and author Rosemary Verey, and nationally known American garden designer Phillip Watson.

The interior design of the 5,000-square-foot show house reflects the lifestyle of a retired naval captain with ties to the U.S. Naval Academy and a British woman with an interest in preservation.

Nautical themes, high-style elegance, a country farmhouse feel, whimsy and charm fill the rooms around the turned central staircase in the three-story Georgian-period home. A third-floor guest bedroom has a spectacular view of the Chesapeake Bay.

The English influence is evident throughout the home in antiques and period reproductions. In the living room/dining area are reproductions of an 18th-century Welsh dresser and an English oak table that seats 10 to 12 people.

Interior designer Kathe Waskin of Kathe & Co. in Easton brightened this room with white fabrics and walls painted white with stenciled apple-green leaves. Slipcovers and a change of accent pillows transform this formal area into a casual family room.

The old butler's pantry with dumbwaiter in the first-floor central foyer is now a cocktail bar and tiny wine cellar designed by Christina Haire Interior Design of Georgetown in Washington.

On the second floor, light streams into a master bedroom/sitting room by New York interior designer Ralph Harvard. The decor is cool and clean with colors and reproduction fabrics of the period -- pale green walls and fabrics of indigo blue and white.

An antique Chippendale chest on chest, a breakfast table made in early Annapolis and an antique tea table complement contemporary watercolors and a West Indies-style writing desk.

Across the hall, Darryl Savage and Anthony Awkard of DHS Designs in Annapolis furnished a light and airy lady's dressing room with an ice-blue chaise, French cane chairs, two antique trunks and a painted armoire.

On the third floor is the shipwreck playroom of 9-year-old Andrew. Designed by decorative painter Mary Beth Bowers of Serendipity Designs in the Kent Island area, its walls and ceiling are a mural of a desert island at sunset with puffy clouds and shorebirds.

The furniture, custom-made with Chesapeake Bay driftwood collected by Bowers, includes a thatched-roof hut with climbing platforms.

With its long narrow shape, the family reading room seemed like the perfect place for Interior Concepts of Annapolis to build the inside of a classic yacht. The room has a built-in desk resembling a chart table and is decorated with nautical antiques.

The Slayton house was willed to the Historic Annapolis Foundation in the early 1990s by longtime Annapolis resident and Naval Academy graduate Morgan Slayton. The most intact example of a London-style rowhouse in the United States, it is available for purchase at $900,000.

Built in 1774 as a rental property where affluent Colonials could live during their visits to the great city of Annapolis, it is the center unit in a cluster of three houses. It has remained relatively unchanged through the years and still has its original floors, walls, fireplaces and floor plan.

While it was structurally sound, much scraping, painting and cleaning had to be done by about 100 Historic Annapolis Foundation volunteers to ready the house for interior designers to create a modern living space without altering historical features.

A historic brick walkway and a kidney-shaped concrete pond have been preserved and incorporated into the semiformal English garden created by Stephanie and Jason Pippen of Aspen Grove Landscape Co. in Linthicum.

There is also a working garden for vegetables, herbs and wildflowers. Archaeological dig sites in the yard and basement have been left open for visitors to observe. Openings in the interior walls reveal early construction techniques and materials.

"This is probably the oldest home that has ever been converted into a show house," said Katie Michaelson, marketing coordinator for Historic Annapolis Foundation. "It's just very different."

Show house

What: Slayton Show House, a fund-raiser for the Historic Annapolis Foundation

When: Daily through May 18; Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Where: 112 Duke of Gloucester St., Annapolis

Cost: $12; children under 8 not admitted

Information: 410-267-7619

Note: Not handicapped-accessible

Pub Date: 4/20/97

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