Jan and Steve Farley spent nearly four months looking for their dream home when they learned about the property on York Street in Taneytown that had once been a parsonage.
"It was kind of just what we were looking for," said Jan Farley, a substitute schoolteacher. "We just knew this was it."
And what they were looking for was an old house to which they could add their personal touch.
"We both like antiques," said Steve Farley, who is general manager of Darcars Toyota of Frederick.
They had looked in nearby Linwood in Carroll County and also in the Frederick area, and learned about the Taneytown property through a newspaper advertisement.
Slate roof leaked
That was in 1987, and the couple paid $102,000 for the home. The back yard was bare, and the slate roof was leaking and chipping. But that didn't deter the Farleys.
"It was basically in good shape," Jan Farley said.
Stephanie Myers, an agent with Long & Foster in Taneytown, remembers showing the house then. "It had a lot of charm but needed a lot of work," she said.
Today, many of the houses nearby go for nearly double what the Farleys paid.
"One right across the street went for $173,000," Myers said. "One on Baltimore Street [within blocks] went for about $200,000. And I have a Cape Cod for sale [also nearby] for $220,000."
The Farleys' house, a two-story wood Victorian with shutters, was built in 1891 as the parsonage for the Presbyterian church next door. It is believed to have served as the minister's home until the 1960s. Such a history has provided amusement for the Farleys.
"Taneytown had a house tour in the late 1980s," Steve Farley said. "Our house was on the tour. It was so interesting. People came through and told us how they used to come over here all the time because it was the church parsonage."
In the course of renovations, the family - the Farleys have three children, Kate, 18; Jamie, 14; and Kelley, 11 - has found such relics as marbles and hand-cut nails.
The first floor of the 2,300-square-foot home has a den with hardwood floors and a brick fireplace, a large kitchen that opens into a screened porch and a formal dining area with a built-in china closet.
The living room, also on the first floor, has 9-foot ceilings and windows that span 6 feet.
A carved wood banister leads to the upstairs, which has four bedrooms and one full bath. The Farleys just recently renovated the bath.
"We literally gutted it," Jan said of the $8,000 renovation. "It was such a small room that everything had to be custom-made."
The floors in the family, living and dining rooms were stained black and dark brown, Jan said. About nine years ago, the couple hired a firm to strip and stain them to highlight the natural wood.
The spacious kitchen received a makeover as well about 10 years ago. Part of the wraparound back porch was converted to expand the kitchen. The couple also installed new wood kitchen cabinets and the floor was re-tiled.
Many other improvements have been made as well. The couple estimates that they have spent more than $50,000 on renovations.
Other improvements have been works in progress. The back yard was transformed to include gardens and a brick walkway that was put in last year.
"I had no idea how much work would be involved," Steve Farley said with a laugh.
On the wall in one hallway is a framed collection of photographs of the original house and surrounding area. During the late 1800s, York Street had been tree-lined. The last four original trees stand in front of the Farley home.
Asked their favorite part of the house, the answer is unanimous: "The back porch in the summer and the den in the winter."