Dan and Eloise Stinchcomb's furniture never looked quite right in their Randallstown home.
"It was the typical carbon-copy suburban rancher. It looked like every other house," Mrs. Stinchcomb said.
Through the years, the Stinchcombs have acquired many antiques -- some cherished heirlooms from parents and grandparents, others from yard sales and auctions. "We wanted a house that fit our furniture," she said.
On Sundays, the couple would drive to the Sykesville Baptist Chapel -- a storefront church in the old rail town's historic section -- and dream about relocating to one of the homes there. "I kept saying, 'I'm going to live here,' " Dan Stinchcomb said.
Eloise Stinchcomb had her eye on one home in particular -- an old Victorian sitting high on a hill with a large front porch and gingerbread trim.
After years of Sunday drives, the couple decided to sell their Randallstown rancher and look for an older home in Sykesville.
The time was right, Mr. Stinchcomb said. Their two sons were grown. It was time to look for a house that fit just the couple. Both grew up in older homes -- he in Violetville, she in Oklahoma. "For us, it was going back to our roots," she said.
Fate lends a hand
Fate seemed to give them a helping hand. Driving along Sykesville's Springfield Avenue, Mrs. Stinchcomb saw her dream home, the one with the gingerbread trim, with a "For Sale" sign in front of it. "Eloise called right away," Mr. Stinchcomb said.
When she walked into the house, she instantly felt as though she were home. "Even when it was decorated with someone else's things, I could see the potential," she said.
The Stinchcombs immediately put in a bid, even though they had yet to find a buyer for their Randallstown home.
They thought it wouldn't be long before they would move into their dream home and live happily ever after.
But that's not exactly how it turned out.
The Stinchcombs weren't the only people in love with the house. Someone outbid them and moved into their dream home.
Time passed. A year went by. The Randallstown rancher was still for sale. And every Sunday the couple would drive into Sykesville to look at houses, wondering if one of them would be theirs.
And then, everything fell into place.
The Stinchcombs went on vacation. Someone made an offer on their house. And a certain Victorian home with gingerbread trim was suddenly for sale again.
When the Stinchcombs returned from vacation, they went into action.
The owner of the dream home wanted to sell the house without the help of a real estate agent and wouldn't be erecting "For Sale" signs to attract other buyers.
"We only heard about it from a friend of a friend. It was that weird," Mr. Stinchcomb said. "We have a deep faith in God and I believe he led us to this place."
Of course, it would have been nice if God had let the Stinchcombs pay $99,000 for the house. That's what the house sold for a year earlier. The couple had to pay $16,000 more.
But the Stinchcombs had their house, and that is what really mattered, they said.
The previous owner sold the house after a year because she didn't want to spend a lot of time doing restoration work on the 100-year-old house.
The Stinchcombs admit that they're not exactly handy people themselves, but they have made great improvements in the 18 months they have lived in the home. They ripped up the carpet that was glued to the hardwood floors, painted, stenciled and wallpapered walls and removed dropped ceilings.
In the attic, Mrs. Stinchcomb found the original light fixture that once hung in the foyer and restored it to its rightful place.
Friends gave the Stinchcombs a swing for their front porch.
The porch swing has become one of Mr. Stinchcomb's most used pieces of furniture.
"I like to go there in the morning with my Bible and my coffee," he said. Others seem to to like the porch, too. "We have friends that come over when we are not home and sit on our porch," he said.
New addition planned
Plans for the house include turning the attic into a craft room, updating the electrical wiring, and putting an addition on the back of the house for his parents.
The Stinchcombs have been doing a lot of research on their home. They still don't know exactly how old the house is, but they have found out some things about the previous owners.
The founder of the Sykesville Herald newspaper lived there. The town butcher and his wife lived there. Like Mrs. Stinchcomb, the butcher's wife played piano for church services.
The owner of the Lyceum Theatre, Sykesville's first movie theater and presenter of "elite photo-plays," also lived in the home. His wife provided piano accompaniment to the silent films.
Don't own a TV
Mrs. Stinchcomb put her piano in the same spot as the previous owners as a way to connect with the home's history.
The couple also has tried to preserve the historical integrity of the home in other ways. The kitchen has neither counters nor dishwasher. Nor does the house have much closet space. And good luck finding a TV set.
Although the couple has not lived in the house for very long, Mrs. Stinchcomb agreed to include the home in the Historic Sykesville Christmas Tour.
And as out-of-town visitors and neighbors toured the house in December several people paid her the ultimate compliment, she said.
"People kept telling me, 'I feel like I'm at home here.' "
Pub Date: 1/24/99