1840s outside, modern inside

The Baltimore Sun

Home is where the art is.

Just ask Ted and Lucy Rouse, the owners of this Federal Hill townhouse with its classic contemporary design.

Or better yet, ask Arnold Lehman, the former director of the Baltimore Museum of Art who once lived in the home and who, along with his team of architects, completely renovated the exterior and interior, providing a modern styling that still exists today.

If you prefer to hear it from a well-known artist, just ask actor Edward Norton. He's visited a few times and could surely vouch for the creative performance of this artistic space. After all, it's his aunt's house.

The history of the house, built in 1840, includes a past life as a factory, warehouse, firehall and almost-forgotten rundown rowhouse, like many in Baltimore.

The street out front is old-world cobblestone, but the vision inside is distinctly new-world modern.

Clearly, Lehman and his architects, the New York team of Henry Smith-Miller and Laurie Hawkinson, saw the inner beauty of this home when they set about refurbishing it nearly 20 years ago. Although the architects stripped the interior to the bones, they maintained its historical presence while fully modernizing the entire space.

Today, what's most striking is how current the interior looks.

The house is designed with a small entryway and a steep set of corrugated metal stairs -- an elevator is also available -- that lead to the brightly lit main level with painted open beam ceilings and large windows providing views of the Inner Harbor and the National Aquarium in Baltimore. The large kitchen is a focal point. With its stainless steel cabinets and industrial lights (actually modeled on highway lights), it could have been designed just yesterday.

"It looks more in style to me now than it did when I bought it [eight years ago]," says Lucy Rouse, who is planning to downsize.

Address -- 125 E. Montgomery St., Baltimore 21230

Asking price -- $1.95 million

Taxes -- $18,779

Size -- The Federal-style brick townhouse has more than 5,500 square feet. The property also includes a three-car garage and a rental apartment.

Features -- Contemporary interior styling is framed by lofty, open-beamed ceilings on the main level. In one area, the beams give way to a panel of skylights. A centerpiece of the main level is a modern gourmet kitchen with stainless steel cabinets, granite countertops and professional appliances.

The two-story owner's suite has a sitting room with built-ins, a bedroom and bath. The house has four bedrooms and 4 1/2 baths. An elevator offers easy access to the main level of the home, which has five levels and an unfinished basement. The Inner Harbor can be seen from the main living room; the rear deck offers a city view.

Listing agent -- Cindy Conklin; Yerman, Witman, Gaines and Garceau, 410-727-0606 (office) and 443-629-0152 (cell).


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