It was the neighborhood that drew Bob and Jill Penaloza to the Maritime Republic of Eastport, Annapolis’ rebellious eighth ward.
“My wife loved the eclectic nature,” Penaloza said. “In the old part, no two houses were the same.”
The family had lived all over the country: Colorado, where the couple met; Chicago, North Carolina, New York and finally rural Defiance, Missouri.
Never had they come upon a place that felt more welcoming than Eastport. “I loved driving over the Sixth Street bridge. You could just take a deep breath and feel at home,” Penaloza said.
418 First Street was, Penaloza allows, “pretty ugly: Green asbestos shingles, dark with no windows, 900 square feet and only 25 feet wide with no garage and nothing in the back yard but one big holly tree.”
The challenge was making the house they’d bought into a home they’d love.
|Bob Penaloza relaxes on one of the seven porches tucked around his Eastport home. You’re invited to visit Sunday, June 9, as part of this year’s Eastport Home and Garden Tour.|
“We wanted the house to look old Eastport from the street,” Penaloza said, while being liveable inside.
Local architect Terry Averill met that challenge by asking the Penalozas how they wanted to live. Their answers, and his knowledge of city zoning regulations, stretched 900 square feet into 2,100 with a long, narrow, open first floor with a central kitchen and “lots of little places people can go to when 18 or 20 people come for the holidays.”
Like the places in Harry Potter stories, 418 First Street expands seemingly magically to encompass seven porches; four bedrooms including one for the grandchildren; easily that many sitting, family and viewing rooms; three and a half bathrooms; three yards; two fireplaces; one big shared office.
The two-story home is warm, sunshine yellow with contrasts in tones of blue outside and in. The ceiling of the front porch, for example, is traditional robins’ egg blue. The small roof you see from the street is copper.
“We love it now,” says Penaloza. ‘There’s great energy.”
Penaloza has edged his deep back yard with perennials that bring in birds, butterflies and bees. He works at home, so he enjoys their company from early morning through the day.
The front garden includes a tiny patch of grass — Jill’s front yard — sheltering vines and bright annuals in pots and hanging baskets.
The front porch beyond the garden is Bob’s favorite spot.
“When you’re out here in Eastport,” he says, “you can watch the world go by.”