(This article marks the fourth in a series focusing on historic farmhouses on the Mid-Shore. These homes have been in the same family for decades, and are being given new life by the younger generation that now lives in them.)
In Kennedyville, just down the road from Molly’s Place, two “sister houses” stand on opposite sides of Rt. 213. The one up on the bend sits weather-beaten and time-worn, awaiting its inevitable demolition.
However, the one tucked back amid mature trees with a timeless red barn is an absolute treasure just recently purchased by Jason and C.J. Price. The couple resides here with their two children, Violet and Oliver, C.J.’s mother Melody, and their Daschund Zoey.
The Gothic Victorian architecture of the home, complemented by whimsical features like stained glass panels around the double front doors and a “secret staircase” that leads down to the kitchen, gives the impression of a life-sized dollhouse.
The house and its twin were built by two members of the Merritt family on the Ivingo parcel circa 1881. At some point, a rift in the family allegedly occurred and Ivingo was split. The Price’s home rests on a parcel dreamily dubbed “Swan Meadow,” whereas the other house farther up the road retained the Ivingo moniker.
Swan Meadow has changed hands a few times, at one point sitting vacant with some of the first-floor rooms converted into grain storage bins. Most recently it was owned by the Hall family, who raised five children there and made such improvements as converting two of the three fireplaces to gas and adding an outdoor wood-fired furnace, a concrete swimming pool with a 10’ deep end, blown-in insulation and vinyl siding.
“What better place to raise a family?” the Prices thought when their friend alerted them to a listing for the home in the summer of 2020, the same home C.J. had longed for since her days as a student at Washington College.
C.J., originally from New Jersey, met Jason, a Centreville native, at Washington College where they were both English majors. C.J. and her friends would take Rt. 213 on their way back to college after visiting family in New Jersey, and every time she saw the stately Victorian home, she said her heart would jump. Years later, after she and Jason married and started a tent rental company as an offshoot of his family’s hardware store, Price and Gannon, they were buying it.
C.J. and Jason were living in Chester Harbor at the time in a small rancher they had long outgrown. Working in the wedding rental industry had given them the opportunity to tour many historic homes, which in turn helped them realize that their ideal home would be an old farmhouse with more square footage, charm, and a spacious yard where the children could play. The Swan Meadow farmhouse fit the bill to a tee. With three floors, five bedrooms, 3,040 square feet, and an almost three-acre yard, space is in abundance.
After winning a tense bidding war, the Prices were eager to move in and make the house their own while preserving its charm. They added white vinyl fencing around the pool, vapor-locked the crawlspace, and had HVAC installed on the first and second floors, which will help preserve the house by controlling humidity. C.J. gestured to their home’s “sister house” across the field, sadly remarking, “That’s what happens when you don’t live in and maintain them.” It’s a sad reminder of the fate that has befallen many of the historic homes in this region.
The kitchen is filled with natural light, and white custom-built cabinets store the family’s china and glassware. The little alcove created by the “secret staircase” in the rear of the house serves as the perfect home for C.J.’s KitchenAid mixer and a beverage cooler. The windows in the breakfast nook provide a perfect view of the pool and barn.
The windows in the front of the house are floor-to-ceiling and can be opened and serve as easy passage onto the front porch in warm weather.
These unique windows and the ornate trim on the home’s exterior can likely be attributed to the successful peach harvests that occurred in the last quarter of the 19th century. Many farms in this part of the county had peach orchards, and the extra income earned from these crops was commonly spent on home improvements such as windows and trim.
The decor in the house has been carefully curated to period-style and family functionality. In the front hallway, a bench crafted from a Jenny Lind bedframe serves as the perfect place for guests to lay their coats.
“That was a Facebook Marketplace find,” C.J. shared. Some of the other pieces were purchased from the nearby Crumpton Auction, a great source of quality antique furniture. Violet and Oliver are both autistic, and each have unique needs in regards to their living and play spaces. Oliver enjoys bouncing on a small trampoline with a safety net in the living room, where he can safely expend energy while watching his favorite movies. Violet benefits most from quiet spaces like her bedroom or the sunroom, where she enjoys being creative with paints and clay.
Up on the third floor are the children’s bedrooms, along with a large storage space. Violet’s desk sits near a window on the landing at the top of the stairs, the perfect spot for doing homework or creating artwork. The front staircase was one of the features that sealed the deal for C.J..
“I just visualized Violet coming down those stairs for prom or her wedding,” she said with a smile.
A trip up the stairs reveals unique octagonal spindles supporting a beautiful banister worn smooth by all the hands that have loved this house. The hallway that leads back to the laundry room serves as a gallery wall showcasing the family’s adventures and love for their children.
The ample interior space and large yard are perfect for celebrations.
Friends and family gather here for a “colorful Christmas”, with garland wrapped all the way up the banister and three sparkling trees decorated with ornaments in every hue. The trees are situated on each landing of the stairwell and one in the family room, all visible from the road.
At Easter the Prices hid 600 eggs on the property for their children and their cousins to find. C.J.’s brother and his wife had their wedding on the front lawn in August, and Jason’s brother had his wedding there in September.
The love the Prices have for Swan Meadow is palpable.
“There are still days when I pull up to the house and I sit there in the driveway thinking, ‘We live here!’,” C.J. laughed. When speaking about the projects they have planned for the winter, such as refinishing floors, replacing the subfloor in the mudroom, and remodeling the laundry room, they speak with excitement rather than dread. They have chosen this old house not only as a place to raise their children, but also as a piece of history they are determined to preserve.
Follow the Price family on Instagram @swanmeadowativingo.