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Baltimore Magazine: Mid Century Home Renovation

Owings Brothers Contracting Project

Article: A Couple Thoughtfully Restores A Childhood Home

Michelle Knighton and her six siblings grew up on the outskirts of Catonsville on six acres of land abutting Patapsco State Park. Their parents purchased the land in 1962 and, in 1964, completed the construction of a contemporary four-bedroom home. The design featured a stacked stone wall that ran the entire length of the building, ample glass windows, and a floating staircase to rival that of the Brady Bunch.

“It was a charmed childhood,” Knighton recalls. “We were always outside. We built forts in the forest and climbed on monkey vines. This was our playground. Even now, we can walk right into the state park.”

mid century modern home exterior at night

But as Knighton’s parents aged, the house fell into decline. When they passed away, Knighton, a surgeon’s assistant, and her husband Barney Kirby, an advertising executive, were considering a move to Baltimore City. Both have children from previous marriages who are mostly grown, and the city seemed a good option for downsizing. But the family home spoke to them, especially Kirby.

“I always thought the house was cool, as was this style of home, the mid-century modern design,” he says. “And being close to the park really appealed to me. Also, this was such an iconic home for Michele’s family, we didn’t want someone else to own it.”

While the home had many charming original features, others had not stood the test of time, including single-pane windows, ancient heating, cooling, and plumbing systems, dark wood cabinetry, and ’60s-era bathrooms. There were drafts and termite damage. So before deciding to buy the house, Kirby’s childhood friend, Chris Owings, an owner at Owings Brothers Contracting, did a site visit to ensure the house was worth salvaging.  To read more go here.