The design of David Naumann's Canton townhouse is as interesting and unusual as the thousands of pieces of memorabilia occupying its 3,000 square feet.
Built in the late 1980s as part of the Anchorage development off Boston Street, the brick structure appears from the outside to be a 3 1/2 -story home. But inside there are six levels in a home just 50 feet long.
On the ground floor is a long entrance hall that runs adjacent to a garage. Halfway back, a few steps ascend to a family room in the rear of the home. Five times more, staircases of varying heights rise to a new living area, switching from front to back. The result is an open layout in which each room is opposite another, but half a story to one story higher.
David Naumann, 46, is owner of the Bay Cafe Restaurant in Canton and is active in local real estate, buying, renovating, and selling properties. He purchased the townhouse in June 1997 for $245,000, becoming the second owner of the Anchorage property.
"It was a frat house when I bought it," Naumann said. "I came right in and renovated."
Renovations cost an additional $80,000. Naumann had cherry floors laid on every level of the home. He opened up the previously small kitchen and dining room in the front of the second level, creating a large sitting room and new U-shaped kitchen. A large picture window overlooks busy Boston Street and the renovated American Can Co. complex.
On the wall is a large mural that Naumann commissioned depicting the portion of the can company that cannot be seen from the window. It's just one manifestation of his love affair with Baltimore memorabilia and his obsession for collecting materials that feature old advertising, especially in tin.
Hanging above a gray-and-white upholstered club sofa are three framed metal signs, each about 2 feet by 3 feet, advertising Green Spring Dairy products. To Baltimoreans of a certain age, the distinctive green and white logo is a step back in time. So, too, are old boxes of Quaker Oats, tins of Old Bay Seasoning, potato chip cans from the 1950s and vintage Coke trays.
An avid collector since 1980, Naumann said he gets "stuff from everybody" while coming across a lot of things on his own. A wooden wall cabinet that he rescued from a gutted Fleet Street house is among his favorite pieces. Refurbished, it now holds a collection of metal egg-shaped figurines from the old Tindeco Can Co.
Metal and tin advertising is displayed throughout the house, especially on walls adjacent to the staircases. A square Hires Root Beer sign hangs next to a 4-foot, bottle-shaped sign for Nesbitt's orange drink. The sixth-level landing is home to a bright red Coca-Cola machine dating to the 1940s.
The second-level kitchen area features honey maple cabinets, a pleasing contrast to the cherry floors and granite countertops. Naumann installed top grade appliances including a wine cooler.
A half of a flight up from the kitchen, the third level of the house faces south and showcases a spectacular water view beyond sliding doors. Here, in Naumann's dining room, guests sitting at the pine farm table can enjoy views of the Anchorage Marina and the harbor.
A large striped awning shelters an 18-foot deck. Operating on a sensor, it automatically lowers in sunlight and retracts in high winds.
Naumann's bedroom on the fourth level is painted brick red and features a cherry sleigh bed. An adjoining master bathroom is outfitted with a three-sided glass shower and vintage white ceramic flooring known as oyster cracker tiles for their tiny shape. An old metal dentist's cabinet, with a glass door and chrome hinges, holds toiletries.
Guest bedrooms occupy the fifth and sixth levels. The fifth-level room is being worked on. The top-level room is for overnight guests.
"I hardly ever come down here, except in the winter," said Naumann, referring to his first-level family room, where a pellet stove adds to the coziness. A red plaid club sofa sits opposite a built-in wall entertainment unit. Shelves and cabinets display additional collections of smaller bric-a-brac, while still more metal signs grace the walls.
Beyond sliding glass doors is a patio that he uses for entertaining year-round. Here, Naumann has outfitted the brick walled space with potted plants, small trees, wrought iron furniture, an outdoor wine cooler and an in-ground hot tub. It is here, with harbor breezes gently blowing, that he finds solace Sunday mornings.
Though Naumann expects one day to trade his waterfront dream house for a home with a city view, his Canton multilevel provides him - and his collectibles - with a restful, waterside showplace.