Home of the Week: Candlelight Tour stops by this elegant, renovated Historic Annapolis residence
Date: Capital Gazette, October 29, 2016, Wendi Winters
One summer in the late 1980s in Washington, D.C., Beth and a friend decided to have an adventure. Attempting to visit the Eastern Shore on a beach weekend, they got stuck in backed-up Bay Bridge traffic on Route 50 around exit 24.
"Let's go look at some houses in Annapolis, instead," Beth suggested.
They stopped at a Long & Foster Real Estate office downtown. A Realtor showed them some photos, then took them around to view some of the available properties.
During the tour, Beth realized she could afford to live in Annapolis – as long as it wasn't waterfront property. The Realtor also showed her areas of Annapolis she would not have considered.
A year or two later, in 1989, she found her dream home and made the move to a residence a half block from Spa Creek. The house is one of three pairs of attached Colonial Revival houses on her block that were built between 1903 and 1908. Her residence is the right side of one pair.
"It was large and structurally sound," she said of the then 5 bedroom 1½ bath house. "My daughter and son-in-law lived here for a while. I like fixing up houses. I'm a frustrated interior decorator."
The house needed a lot of work, structural and aesthetic. Beth, now retired from her career in the IT Department of the Department of Justice, built a brick planter along the front of her house, and established a small garden.
"The sidewalk came right up to the front steps," she said. "The planter provides separation of the house from the sidewalk and the passing traffic on the sidewalk and street."
She also had a new roof put on the house and a new furnace installed. Beth purchased ceiling fans for every room – a move which reduces the need to turn on the air conditioner in summer months. Over the years, the attic was insulated, the kitchen completely remodeled and a second full bathroom was built on the third floor, adjacent to the master bedroom.
In 1995, while sailing, she met Jim Dolezal, who retired a few years ago as director of telecommunications for the Department of the Interior, and is now a consultant to communications companies and government agencies. The two married in 2000. While both are active in a long list of civic, social and volunteer activities, they've continued updating and renovating the house. They tackle a new room or project every winter.
The results, inside the house and outside in the landscaped gardens they created and meticulously tend and the attractive koi pond they built, have been on view during several area home tours.
The house is one of eight sites on the 25th annual Annapolis by Candlelight Tour, sponsored by and a fundraiser for the Historic Annapolis Foundation.
The Candlelight Tour is an annual autumnal delight, which attracts participants both locally and from around the world who enjoy viewing homes and other buildings dating from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.
"The house has been brought up to current standards," said Jim. A forced air central air system was installed by John French of Annapolis Air. The system is unobtrusive; a casual glance does not take in meters or blinking lights. The system provides hot water, heat and high velocity air conditioning.
In the central hallway leading to the kitchen, they took out a door leading to the dining room and put in a wide squared arch with period moulding.
In the living room and a second floor bedroom repurposed as a library, handsome built-in shelving was constructed. Traditional crown moulding was placed in the dining room, along with wainscoting.
The original heart of pine floors throughout the 3½ story house were refinished.
Several antique radiators, sporting curlicues and floral patterns, look new. The Dolezals had their radiators removed and sandblasted to remove all the paint, repainted a matte silver and reinstalled. They resemble sculpted, subtly shimmering works of art.
Before their marriage, Jim lived for many years in Old Town Alexandria.
"Annapolis has more sense of community," he said.
Since moving east across the Potomac River, he's joined the Annapolis Rotary and coordinates the Rotary volunteers who ring bells at Christmastime in front of Zachary's Jewelers at City Dock on behalf of the Salvation Army. He is a trustee of the Hammond Harwood House, and chair the City of Annapolis' Ethics Committee.
"I try to stay involved with the city," Jim said. "It's a delight to live in the Historic District. We can walk to everything – but a supermarket."
Beth is a member of a giving circle, Anne Arundel Women Giving Together, a group that supports initiatives that improve the quality of life for women and families in the community.
His and hers
The home's furniture and décor, Jim said, is a mix and match blending of "his" and "hers." They've made a few purchases together, like the living room chairs. The dining room furniture was Jim's, but items in the bedrooms and kitchen were Beth's. In the kitchen, a vintage table with fold down leaves belonged to her mother.
An antique bowl serving as the centerpiece on the dining room table was a find from a recent Moroccan trip. Some of the Persian carpets are from travels to Turkey.
One of their favorite items, an upholstered rocker in the upstairs sitting room next to the master suite, was a "sidewalk find." Its previous owner had put it out on the curb with the garbage. Beth passed by, took a look and grabbed it on the way back. Jim helped her re-upholster the rocker and repair its broken bottom.
Throughout the house they have hung framed giclee prints of photography by Marion E. Warren.
They call the dining room the "Margaret Lee" room as they've hung several of this local artist's still life and landscape paintings in the gracious space.
In two upstairs bedrooms, long embroidered and lace-strewn antique christening gowns are hung on baby hangers. The walls of one bedroom feature the framed cross-stitch artistry of long-gone craftswomen. One 200-year-old handiwork reads: Whats in Your Mind Let No one Now (sic) nor To Your Friends No Secrets Show For When Your Friends Becomes Your Foes Then all the World Your Secrets Know. – Mery Blanshard 1817
Their projects have included taking a bedroom wall down on the third floor to form the open sitting room and removing an unused chimney.
Beth proudly showed off her most recent project: she hand-stripped the newel post and stair moulding on the central staircase restoring its original beauty.
They love Annapolis
The two enjoy strolling to the end of their block to watch the Blue Angels soar overhead during Commissioning Week. The jets seemingly provide an air show solely for the folks watching along Spa Creek.
Beth's favorite part of Annapolis is "its history, that it's a small town where we can walk everywhere. It is a community of people."
Annapolis By Candlelight Tour
WHAT: 25th annual Annapolis By Candlelight Tour, a benefit for the Historic Annapolis Foundation
WHEN: 5 to 9 p.m., Nov. 4 and 5. Rain or shine. Dress for the weather. Wear sturdy, flat soled walking shoes. Cleats or stiletto heels will not be permitted inside the homes.
WHERE: Sites will be located along Church Circle, Duke of Gloucester and Market Streets
OF NOTE: The homes on the tour are not handicap accessible. Wheelchairs cannot be accommodated.
No food or drink is allowed inside or on the property of the tour homes. When inside the homes, please do not touch walls, furniture or any decorative objects.
When outside, please do not pick or remove any plants or other objects. Photos may be taken of tour home exteriors, but none are permitted inside the homes.
ADMISSION: $35 through Oct. 30, $40 beginning Oct. 31.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Visit https://www.annapolis.org/media/48-89-annapolis-candlelight