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Chesapeake Bay
Homeowners Marilyn Lyons Graham and Corky Graham wanted to build a home that would please not only themselves, but also their children and grandchildren.
| Credit: Laurey W. Glenn

A great house doesn't build itself, you know. It takes a team of talented and creative people to pull it off. Just ask homeowners Clark "Corky" Graham and Marilyn Lyons Graham. In 2005, they teamed with architect Wayne Good, FAIA, to create a special home that won this year's Best New Home award. We sat down with the three of them to find out more about the features and influences that make this Annapolis, Maryland, home so noteworthy.

Q: Marilyn and Corky, how did Katrina's aftermath lead to the construction of your wonderful house?
A: Marilyn: "When the hurricane roared through in August 2005, we were living in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Afterward, nothing was left of our home except, strangely, thousands of Corky's golf balls lying about.

"Fortunately, we had bought our property in Annapolis about 15 years earlier. So Corky and I moved into an apartment there while we built this house. We selected Wayne, who came highly recommended, to be our architect.

"As he does with all of his clients, Wayne asked us to write a portrait of ourselves and our lifestyle. Because he took the time to hear us, his initial sketches, which required very little modification, resulted in the home we live in today."

Q: At first glance, the house looks contemporary, yet it has traditional elements as well. What's the scoop?
A: Wayne: "There's an intriguing quote by Confucius that states, ‘To see the old is to find the new,' and the design of this house exemplifies that wisdom. For inspiration, I referred to regional historic boat sheds and watermen's cottages known as ‘shucker shanties'―many of which were built in the Chesapeake Bay area during the 1800s―as a great starting point. Intrigued by their whitewashed board-and-batten siding and gabled tin roofs, I incorporated the same elements into the Grahams' residence."

Marilyn: "Because our home is both traditional and contemporary, we offset its simple, elegant architecture with antiques and Oriental rugs. I'm also replacing my collection of art lost in Katrina with other pieces, many by Mississippi artists, to add color to the rooms and to remind us of our Deep South connection."

Q: This house also appears to have two different personalities: a somewhat buttoned-up presence facing the road and a completely transparent quality on the bay side. Why the different exterior looks?
A: Wayne: "I designed it to fully capture the spectacular views of the South River and Chesapeake Bay that border the property. That's why, from the approach road, the northern and western sides consist more of solid walls than windows, giving Corky and Marilyn some privacy. For the bay side's exterior walls, 10-foot-high fixed glass panels and operable windows provide ample sunlight and endless views to the water. The main living level is elevated as well, creating the appearance that it flows directly to the river."

Q: Why did you utilize various types of windows?
A: Wayne: "Just like a spoken language, an architectural style has a distinct vocabulary, with features like windows serving as the punctuation. As seen in this home, windows can actually perform a number of tasks. In some cases, they're simply conventional, operable openings. In other locations, they separate and define the basic forms of the house. The Grahams' large expanses of glass are meant to bring the views inside. The vertical mullioned windows either continue the rhythm of the board-and-batten siding or become frames for the views."

Marilyn: "One thing Corky and I both wanted was lots of windows in each room―not only for the views, but also double- and even triple-hung windows for cross ventilation. The breezes here are quite lovely, and the sound of the water lapping against the rocks is wonderfully soothing."

Q: What do each of you like best about this house?
A: Wayne: "I most appreciate the mutual respect between the Grahams, Winchester Construction Company, and me. This magic ingredient ultimately enabled a well-thought-out design to become a great house."

Marilyn: "Where do I begin? The views, our home's simplicity and eye-catching design, the glass tower―there are just too many high points to list! Wayne so succinctly captured us in his design. It's warm and livable and ideal for family or company visits. Best of all, they love it too."