In addition to being known for a variety of architectural designs, many of the homes in Baltimore's Guilford neighborhood are often referred to by the names of their former residents of note. Within the space of a few acres, the community includes the Milton Eisenhower house, the Turnbull House and the "Natty Boh" place.
Five years ago, Bari and Thomas Fore purchased the Ogden Nash home, a three-story, stone and slate English country-style home sitting on an acre of land, for $1.2 million.
Nash, a Baltimore native, was a celebrated poet and lyricist. The home, included in the 2013 Maryland House & Garden Pilgrimage Tour, was built by William and Nellie Jackson Leonard, whose daughter, Frances, married Nash in 1931 and later received the property as a gift from her parents.
The home was on the market in 2008 when the Fore's real estate agent brought them to it.
"The minute that we walked into this house we knew it was the perfect home for our family," said Bari Fore, 51. "We would never call any other place home."
The couple had been searching to buy in the area for four years. They knew it had to be something really spectacular to make it worth moving from their Rodgers Forge neighborhood.
"Everything about the house was beautiful," Bari Fore said of the 1927 structure at the end of a long driveway. At street level, stone columns reinforce remote-controlled iron gates. "I wanted a stone house, and I knew I could rehab an old one."
Bari Fore was not intimidated by the home's 10,000 square feet of living space, its eight original bedrooms, six full baths and a half-bath. The couple spent more than $1 million on renovations, including a complete kitchen overhaul, new landscaping of the property and the construction of an outdoor saltwater swimming pool.
"The garden was a [great] investment, but the transformation is huge," said Bari Fore, who hired Maxalea, a Baltimore County landscaping company, for the project. "We dug the whole yard up and started all over. We spent one year working on it."
The first level of the Fores' home consists of a center hallway from the front of the entrance to the back doors that open onto the gardens. The hall, spacious and bright, features black and white marble tiling. In a corner of the foyer, a winding staircase climbs to an open second level. A spacious living room and dining room sit on either side of the central hall. Both rooms are furnished with family heirlooms as well as shopping "finds."
"I purchased a lot of furniture, a little at a time," Bari Fore said. "I'm a big secondhand-store shopper."
She is also thrilled when her husband, 47-year-old Thomas Fore, a real estate developer and producer of independent films, makes a special purchase, such as the grand piano in the living room that belonged to composer Burt Bacharach.
The second floor contains the family room, the master suite and the bedrooms of the Fore children, 17-year-old Sophie and 13-year-old Max.
A boudoir, where Nash supposedly did most of his writing, is now Bari Fore's dressing room, while her husband has another room devoted to his clothing and space for dressing. Three rooms on the third level have a very quaint feel and serve as guest rooms — one, a small suite for the Fores' personal assistant, Juan Christian.
Bari Fore refers to the home as a "work in progress" and calls the upkeep "a full-time job." She knows every nook and cranny and says with a laugh, "I have every skeleton key to every door and closet in this house — and every one is labeled."
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Making the dream
Dream fulfilled: "I love this house," said Bari Fore. "Sometimes I get so overwhelmed by the beauty of the surroundings. Outside, looking in, I think how grateful I am to be able to have a home I love."
Dream furnishings: Among the many things that the Fores hold dear in the home is the "dining room table that once belonged to my grandmother and has a lot of family history," said Bari Fore. The long mahogany, Chippendale-style table with 10 matching chairs was the table at which her family gathered every Friday at sundown for the celebration of Sabbath.
Dream rooms: "The library and the kitchen are the two rooms we spend the most time in," said Bari Fore. The library, where Ogden Nash spent a great deal of his time, features built-in bookshelves. A guide for the recent Maryland House & Garden Pilgrimage Tour notes that "the woodwork visible on the first floor is believed to have been salvaged from a colonial estate on the Eastern Shore that had fallen into disrepair." The country kitchen also features a wall of original cabinetry that was retained during renovation. A large round table sits in the center of the room under a crystal chandelier.