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Volume 14, Issue 25 ~ June 22 - June 28, 2006

Explore Eastport Homes and Gardens

Take away insights from vintage homes and new ideas for your own

by Kat Bennett

Get inspired with the first Eastport House and Garden Tour, June 25, rain or shine. Stroll through gardens that recall a time of lemonade and hats. Discuss the history of early 20th century architecture with 10 Eastportoricans who have opened their homes and gardens to share their versions of neighborhood style. Take away insights into vintage homes and new ideas for your own.

A quiet residential neighborhood of bungalows and cottages mixed with a few Victorian farmhouses, Eastport exemplifies the architectural style of the post-Victorian era, when American architects designed one- and two-story homes inspired by British cottages in India. Sharply sloped rooflines, multiple gables and clean geometrics give many of these homes a fairy-tale quaintness. Homes from the 1920s open to the tour include those at 526, 529 and 531 Sixth Street.

Many houses reflect the influence of the Arts and Crafts movement with the use of hand-forged door hardware and stained glass windows. Other homes reflect the post-war 1940s and ’50s, with siding, neat brick or dramatic glass block windows like 521 Sixth Street.

Eastport has always been a close-knit neighborhood. From the annual burning of the socks — a ceremony to celebrate the return of bare feet and sailing — to the tug-of-war challenge — where Annapolitans and Eastportoricans compete for Eastport’s independence. So there is some evidence of exploded design in homes that sprout additions and expansions to fill in every possible building space. But Eastport took action soon enough to save the character of the community. Many of the residents are artists, architects and others drawn to the charm and the quiet streets.

“Community response was tremendous when the tour was proposed,” said Terry Averill, resident, architect and chairwoman of the Eastport Civic Association. “There were so many residents who wanted to participate we didn’t know where to start.” The tour is planned as an annual event to raise money for community projects.

To keep the tour workable, the committee decided on 10 homes between Fifth and Sixth streets and Burnside and Severn streets.

After years of the McMansion and Mega-SUV mindset, some people are in reaction, concluding that less is more.

“At first we planned to add-on,” said Eastport resident Ross Arnett, who owns a bungalow. “Then we realized that we had more than enough space. We like it this way.”

We like it this way is the official motto of the Maritime Republic of Eastport, which declared its independence from the City of Annapolis in 1998, when the Spa Creek Bridge was closed for repairs.

The Eastport tour also features some newer homes, such as the two-story frames at 525 Fifth Street and 602 State Street, selected to show how sympathetic new construction can blend seamlessly into the existing community.

Eastport offers a rich variety of 20th century architecture. Besides the bungalows, you’ll see Victorians and Cape Cod cottages, a classic brick ranch-house, a split-level, American four-square, some Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired modern and European glass block homes.

But this is not a tour just about homes; it is also a tour for garden inspirations. Frog ponds, front yards full of country flowers and Bay-friendly plantings abound in Eastport. Enjoy the quiet ambience where strollers still wave hello as they wander along tree-lined streets where roses bend invitingly over neat picket fences.

In tribute to the charm of these homes and gardens, Maryland Plein Air Painters will be scattered about the tour area for their June Paint Out, creating unique mementos of the event. Onlookers are welcome to stop and comment on works in progress.

Watercolors by Eastport artist Rosemary Freitas Williams also illustrate event brochures.

First Annual Eastport Home and Garden Tour: 1-5pm Sunday, June 25, rain or shine. No spike heels or children under 12. $15 in advance at Ahhh Coffee (1015 Bay Ridge Ave.), Windwood Gardens (20 Old Solomon’s Island Rd.) and Hard Bean Coffee (36 Market St., City Dock). $20 tour day only at Mears Marina (519 Chester Ave.): 410-268-2689 (Shelley Row) or 410-295-7531 (Ross Arnett).

Versatile contributor Kat Bennett most recently has been keeping Bay Weekly readers up to date on the Volvo Ocean Race with weekly reports.

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