Written by Amy Shuman, with Photography by John Shuman
Behind a gigantic pussy willow tree, at the base of Dan’s Mountain in Cresaptown nestles the beautiful cedar home of Lynne Barnes and Roger Dale. In 1988, Roger, with his mechanical engineering background, started with plans for a Custom Crafted cedar home and, working with Dave Smith, re-designed them to suit his tastes. “I wanted passive solar,” he explains. “I took out a few walls, like between the dining room and kitchen so that whoever is cooking can talk with friends as they work. These changes were possible because of the post and beam construction.” The 2000 square foot “full of light” home became a reality the next year, complete with a house blessing celebration with local church friends.
Two years ago, Roger married Lynne Barnes. Roger’s spouse, Suzanne, had died and, having been friends for many years, Lynne and Roger decided they then had much in common. They both loved antique furniture, collaborated in their love of cooking and most importantly, perhaps, they had shared a passion for sharing their music for 18 years and had become known throughout our area and beyond as “Scotch Mist,” with Lynne playing light classical and Celtic music on the harp and Roger playing the Flauto Dolce, an alto recorder. Their professional vita is available at alleganyartscouncil.org.
Lynne had lived in traditional homes all her life. “I was used to square rooms and tie-back curtains. When I married Roger, the only 90 degree angle for my doll cupboard was in the living room.” Lynne smiles as she explains that she grew to love Roger’s modern cedar home and “had a ball” decorating each space, combining their favorite furniture throughout. “It’s really a versatile home, one that can morph itself into many different configurations for a lot of purposes!” The magnificent great room sports 22-foot ceilings of Western Red Cedar and is a perfect setting for Lynne’s piano and the harpsichord that Roger built from black walnut. Lynne centers her spring and Halloween recitals here, where students learning harp and piano gather with their families to perform. Balcony seats are prized.
The sun porch with swooping white Bermuda curtains overhead has a Godin stove in the corner, which will burn coal or wood. With a southern exposure and 8” of concrete under the deep red tile floors as the heat sink, Lynne and Roger don’t worry if there is a slight interruption of electricity. Stepping through open folding glass French doors from the porch is the living room, which, as Roger explains, “can double as a bedroom if we decide we’d like to live on one floor.” He integrated full size closets and an adjoining full bath to this ample space.
Lynne’s doll collection colorfully adorns one corner. “Some are from my childhood, some are antique, some I made totally, some I dressed and a few are from yard sales.” Her favorites include a German boy with jointed wrists, elbows and ankles, a tiny Japanese doll given to her by her 4th grade teacher, a fur-trimmed girl from Alaska that Roger bought for her on their honeymoon, and a Navajo pair, gifted by a young male piano student, who spent his allowance for vacation to add to Lynne’s collection. “Each one has a story,” Lynne smiles as she remembers.
Roger has enjoyed finding special pewter pieces for 40 years. His plates, porringers and measures are featured in the living room and throughout the house. One of his favorites is a hot plate, from the early 1700’s that, when filled with hot water, keeps food warm. A two-foot Gedact positive Baroque organ that Roger built “for other people to play” sits nearby. Its mighty sound is featured on their Christmas CD.
Practical and decorative art is integrated seamlessly through Lynne and Roger’s home. John McGrath, an artist from Roger’s first wife’s family, perfected the finest black and white etchings, illustrating all manner of European life, street scenes and people. Most rooms are accented with these unique art pieces. Lynne’s Dad, Bill Roberts, of Coudersport, Pa., at age 92, still enjoys his fully operational wood and metal shop and continues to make wonderful furniture for Lynne and Roger. The butler-style coffee table is marvelous, made from special cherry wood that Roger moved from the east coast to California and back. In addition to making Lynne’s first harp and a myriad of clocks, Bill also replicated a cherry miniature of a child’s bed, complete with slats.
Lynne and Roger recently replaced the doors on the kitchen cabinets. An antique gate leg drop leaf table is the featured centerpiece of the kitchen, along with an Appalachian plank bottom Windsor chair. Upstairs are three bedrooms, all with awesome soaring cathedral ceilings. One guestroom has two four-poster twin beds and an antique jelly cupboard housing Lynne’s bear collection. Also in this room is Roger’s antique portable writing desk, beautifully inlaid with a Native American design, from the early 1800’s. The other guest room offers a double four-poster canopy bed, complete with Victorian lace bedding and a private balcony. Roger’s Mother’s writing desk from the 1920’s with black ribbon inlay and many secret compartments and a dovetailed Civil War blanket chest are perfect sidepieces.
Roger has fondly named the master suite “The Hibernatorium” because it was the only safe place to relax as he and Lynne renovated and redecorated their home. Two large midnight blue leather chairs sit next to the beautiful high four-poster bed, with favorite antique quilts and coverlets nearby. A Heatolater fireplace, a match for the one in the great room, provides cozy ambience. Over the fireplace is a gorgeous piece of candlewicking, usually seen on bedspreads, which Lynne designed and stitched to match the curtains. Lynne’s mother taught her to sew, embroider, upholster and tailor. She is using many of these skills as she works on an exquisite 8 ½ foot-long quilted, embroidered and beaded tapestry for the stairwell. The master bath features more McGrath Irish etchings and something usually only found in European powder rooms, a bidet.
Roger has been active in the local arts scene for many years. He was president of the Allegany Arts Council in the 1960’s, president of the Algonquin Players, a theatre group that played at the Shrine Club and other venues, treasurer of the Western Maryland Symphony Society, which brought the Baltimore Symphony to Cumberland annually, treasurer of the Allegany County Boy’s Choir, and vice-president of the Cumberland Cultural Foundation. He currently is on the Board of Directors for Music at Penn Alps and teaches Scottish Country Dancing.
Lynne and Roger believe in making every day fun and they fill their lives with music in the exquisite home they love. “Yes,” Roger says, “We live life to the fullest. We appreciate every minute we have and share it with each other!” Wise words from a wise man!