Couple makes decision to sell historic house. By Shane Riggs
For nearly 20 years, the home of Bryan and Mary Hall, located in the historic district of Cumberland, suited their needs well. For him, it was an ideal spot to house his law offices in the first floor of a building that contains more than 3800 square feet. For her, the second and third floor living space kept her close not only to her husband's business but also to the growing arts community that was flourishing nearby.
Built in 1840, the federal style house features three full baths, two fireplaces, a two-car garage, and a second floor kitchen. After much personal deliberation, the Halls decided it was time to downsize and put their artful and albeit historical house on the market. "We also have a 72 acre farm and I can't even take care of that so this building became a bit too much," Mary said. "Bryan is getting to where he wants to retire to the country. If we could keep both houses, we would. I love this house. It has meant so much to us."
While the first floor is currently completely devoted to office space, the second and third floor living quarters with its hardwood floors has more room than most traditional houses. There's a parlor, home office, TV room, three bedrooms, and a dining room. The house also features 10-foot high pocket doors in the main level, a grand foyer, and a staircase with carved wood that appears to be seamless as it climbs three floors bathed in light from a window that crowns the landing at the top. The view from the third floor offers unparralled views of Cumberland's famous steeples. "It's beautiful here at night," Mary said. "You just want to stay here on Sundays and watch the sun come up, have your coffee and never leave your bed. This is one of the highest points on this street."
While the office space contains memories of Bryan's military service in Vietnam, the walls of the living space have been lovingly adorned with artwork from friends Mary has met through her involvement with the 60 North Centre St. Gallery. Paintings and sketches from their daughter, Ceiln, are scattered in nearly every room of the house. "Ceiln was very much influenced in her early education of art by Linda Holler who is still involved in the art community," Mary said. "And her work is all through the house." Other work involves a 20-year-old painting by Dave Miller who now works for the Boyd's Bears Company, a watercolor from Alexis Lavine, and a large mixed media piece from Maggie Wagner's 2003 local exhibit. The artwork in the home is from artists who have not only become friends but many of them employees over the years. Artist Larry Imes painted the hard to reach high ceilings and did other interior painting in the house. Painter Deborah Hicks Odgers is employed by Bryan's law office as a legal assistant. "We really do support the local arts community by giving them work," laughed Mary. "We employ them so they can pursue their art and still eat."
The Halls believe their house is best suited to continue to suit an artful need. Mary said the building would be ideal for an artist looking for lots of light and studio space. It would also make a wonderful bed and breakfast in which the proprietor could arrange to have local artists showcase their work in the guest rooms. Mary hinted she would like to make a stipulation in the sale that the new owners continue to support the arts in the community. "Think they would agree to that?" she asked. "I just hope that whoever gets the house appreciates it and takes care of it as much as we have. It's a great house and someone could really do something nice with it. I've loved it."