Seven months after Bob Caldwell became a widower, the next chapter in his life unfolded quickly. He placed his home and two acres of land in Bowie on the market, setting in motion a major change in lifestyle.
"I took a contract on the Bowie house Sept. 15, began house hunting in Baltimore on Sept. 18, bought this house the next day and settled on Oct. 1," said Caldwell, 56, a warehouse supervisor for Giant Food in Jessup.
That two-week whirlwind brought Caldwell a two-story, brick rowhouse on Fort Avenue in South Baltimore's Locust Point, landing him back in the city where he grew up and visited regularly to see friends and attend Ravens games.
For $353,000 Caldwell got a snug five-room, two-bath house with a finished basement that's three-quarters above ground. It also has a parking pad at the rear of the 30-foot-long, enclosed backyard - a highly coveted feature in tight rowhouse neighborhoods.
But what's priceless to him is the two-level rooftop deck with its unparalleled view of the inner and outer harbors. This, he maintains, is the real showstopper, as it was at his New Year's Eve party when friends gathered to catch the city's fireworks display.
Built in 1875, the 12-foot-wide house had undergone a major renovation in 1999 by the previous owner. With the house light-years above and beyond move-in condition, Caldwell spent approximately $200 on closet organizers and a woven bamboo ceiling fan in his first level. Even the walls looked freshly painted in colors that suited his taste.
And so with memorabilia and select pieces of furniture from his former life and home, Caldwell set about housekeeping.
Nine-foot ceilings and an unobstructed floor plan and open staircase give the impression of a much larger interior space. The front door - with a charming stained-glass transom - opens onto Caldwell's library.
"The space is really too small to be called a living room," he laughed.
Two barrister bookcases of solid oak with glass doors flank a working fireplace on the south wall of the room. A matching pair of brown leather club chairs and a carved mahogany coffee table are perfectly scaled to the room's dimensions while accenting the thin-planked oak flooring original to the house. On one side an exposed brick wall extends the entire 50-foot length to the kitchen.
Beyond the staircase, Caldwell has turned what was a dining area into a TV room with a leather recliner and light suede loveseat in front of a 40-inch, high-definition TV. Framed prints hang on walls that absorb the multicolored glow from two Tiffany-style glass lampshades.
A countertop separates the TV room from a sleek kitchen outfitted in light birch cabinets and contrasting black enamel appliances. A corner bistro set of wrought iron and leather coordinates with gray ceramic floor tile.
The home's finished basement contains a front office with two windows providing a fair amount of natural light. A back area contains a laundry room and storage area.
An avid walker, Caldwell enjoys the proximity to shopping, dining, two city parks and the harbor.
When he must leave the neighborhood, the going is easy.
"I'm two minutes from I-95," he said.
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