Home of the Week: Unique corner condo is a heavenly haven for newlywed couple
Date: Capital Gazette, October 17, 2015
A block south of the campus of St. John's College, and two blocks west of the Naval Academy's Gate 3, two venerable buildings sit catty-corner to each other, across a busy intersection. They both seem too big to have been a colonial residence.
One is a former opera house.
The other appears to have been a church.
And, it was.
You're about to get a peek inside.
When the congregation of Salem Methodist Church, then on State Circle, split in 1863 over the slavery issue, the ongoing Civil War and whether it was appropriate to sing during a church service, the more liberal and melodic splinter group built its first chapel nearby in 1870. A quarter century later, a larger church was built on a corner of the same street, the site of a demolished saloon. It was dedicated in 1897 as a Methodist Church. In 1921, it was turned into a parish hall when the two congregations reunited. From 1953 until 1999, it was the First Church of Christ, Scientist of Annapolis.
At some point in its evolution, the corner tower's tall steeple topped with a spire was replaced by a shorter, pyramid-shaped cap.
The building underwent a dramatic change again in 2003. Architect John F. Pilli, owner of Pilli Development Co. Inc. in Annapolis, renovated the building, turning it into three luxury condominium units and two offices. The offices occupy the bottom story of the building; the condos are on floors two through four.
It is now known, again, as the Parish House. It is one the homes participating in Historic Annapolis Foundation's 24th annual Annapolis By Candlelight Tour Nov. 6 and 7.
From the outside, the red, six-course American bond brick building retains many of its stylistic Victorial Gothic Revival details. Two doorways on the first level were bricked in. And, some windows were replaced by the central entry door.
The owners of one of the condos are Nicole Lombardi and chiropractor Dr. Marc Schwartz, who owns Atlas Chiropractic P.C., a 14-year old practice on West St.
The two married last winter. This coming winter the couple is expecting their first child, a boy.
Marc is a Silver Spring native who lived until recently in Crownsville. He earned his first degree at the University of Maryland, followed by his Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Life University College of Chiropractic in Marietta, Georgia. He's also earned a Doctorate in Quatum Neurology.
Nicole, a Washington, D.C., native, was recruited as a teen to dance with the School of American Ballet in Manhattan.. Later, she graduated from the Tisch School of the Arts, part of New York University. She embarked on a career in the performing and visual arts, but decided to return to this area to become a teacher. Until recently, she taught Pre-K in a private school.
She met her future husband when mutual friends played matchmaker.
"I thought he was the nicest guy I ever met," she said. "Good, peaceful energy."
The wedding took place at her parents' Forest Hills home in D.C.
A warm welcome
A statuesque blonde watched as we gazed at the building and took photos. Then, she followed us as we approached the building's front door.
With a broad, friendly smile, she introduced herself. It was Nicole.
Nicole unlocked the tall, heavy, arched wooden door and welcomed us into her new home.
The first foyer, with dark tan walls accented with white molding and a dark wood chair rail, has heavy wooden doors leading to each of the building's three condos.
A reminder of its former purpose, a wooden pew rests along one wall. Above it, and on the surrounding walls, are framed photos of the old church.
Room with a view
Behind the door is a smaller foyer, and a staircase.
The second or main level has an open floor plan. The entertainment and living room space flows into the dining room, which, in turn segues to the breakfast bar and kitchen.
Much of the elements of the old church are gone, but a beautiful dark wooden floor remains. Larry Beers, of Beers Flooring of Annapolis, refinished the floors, which may have been part of a basketball court when the building was a parish house.
It only takes a moment to discover the focal point of the room. The ahhhh-some set of three, side-by-side pointed arch windows. This trio is flanked on each side by single arched windows.
White beadboard provides the base of the breakfast bar and island. The raised bar has a blonde wooden surface and the lowered countertop of the island is a polished mottled rose and gray granite.
There are church-like touches in the archway of natural wood, beadboard and pebbled glass that forms the suggestion of a partition between the dining area and kitchen.
Rounding the island, the natural inclination is to look up.
And we do.
All the way to the ceiling of the fourth floor.
Drawing the eye up is the trio of soaring windows, their pointed arches crowned with a beautiful stained glass rose window. High, up on the fourth floor, set into the raw red brick wall, is a trio of vertical rectangular stained glass windows.
Visually stunning backdrop
Galloping up the wooden staircase for a closer look at the windows, a visitor might dawdle to inspect the rooms in the core of the floor: the luxurious master bath, a laundry area, a dressing room and ample clothes closets. All designed and placed to avoid blocking a head-on view of the windows.
In the master bathroom, a vintage hardwood vanity has been repurposed as a sinkstand. The cream ceramic tile floor echoes the neutral cream and pale butter yellow palette walls throughout the dwelling.
On this floor, in the front room, a four-foot high beadboard wall curves around the main windows. The wall provides an ample view – and safety. The other two windows are protected by high, thick acrylic panes topped with wooden ledges.
Creamy wall-to-wall carpeting forms a snowy drift across the floors of this sunny room and the adjacent master bedroom, separated from each other by sliding glass doors.
In the front room, one can lean on the beadboard wall, turn around and look up at the magnificent white wooden arch and framing forming an open wall on the top floor.
The condo's second bedroom is on the fourth floor.
Up on this floor, the wooden arch, framework and buttresses look still more dramatic. As on the floor below, acrylic panes set into the framework as a clear wall provide a safe, secure vantage point.
When you go:
Annapolis By Candlelight
Historic Annapolis Foundation's 24th annual Annapolis By Candlelight Tour will be from 5 to 9 p.m., Nov. 6 and 7. The tour provides exclusive access to privately owned and historic residences on Prince George Street, Maryland Avenue and nearby streets. Tickets are $30 per person in advance or $35 after Nov. 2. Purchase tickets at www.annapolis.org , by calling 410-267-7619 or visiting the Historic Annapolis Museum at 88 Main St.
The tour is self-guided and self-paced. It is not suitable for young children. On the days of the events, tickets and programs are available for purchase or pickup at the will call desk at the William Paca House, 186 Prince George St.
Parking is available at the Gotts Court Garage with entrances on Calvert and Northwest streets, the Hillman Garage, with entrances on Duke of Gloucester and Main streets, or Knighton Garage at the corner of West and Colonial streets. For additional parking locations, visit www.annapolis.gov .
OF NOTE: The event goes on, rain or shine. The private homes on the tour are not handicap accessible.
Despite the tour's name, leave the candles at home.
No food or drink are allowed inside or on the property of the tour homes. When inside the homes, please do not touch walls, furniture or any decorative objects.
Photos may be taken of tour home exteriors, but none are permitted inside the homes.
Design Showhouse/Art Gallery show
The Parish House is also being featured in the daytime Design Showhouse/Art Gallery show, Dec. 10-15, with an opening party the evening of Dec. 9. The house will be redecorated and staged by 10 design teams, each pairing an interior designer with an artist. Admission is $20. For information and tickets, contact Katalin Farnady at 443-822-3248 or firstname.lastname@example.org.