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Close to home

For these neighbors, friendship grows from one house to another

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January 10th, 2017
Cindy and Rick Jones recently sold their Randallstown home, which they purchased from Harper Griswold (pictured far right) two decades ago. Over the years, the three stayed in touch and are now neighbors at Charlestown.

Cindy and Rick Jones recently sold their Randallstown home, which they purchased from Harper Griswold (pictured far right) two decades ago. Over the years, the three stayed in touch and are now neighbors at Charlestown.

When Cindy and Rick Jones were planning their move to Charlestown, the Erickson Living community in Catonsville, Md., last summer, their biggest challenge wasn’t what color to paint the walls of their new apartment or how they would arrange their furniture. 

Instead, they were wondering where they would store the 40 bottles of wine they brought with them.

“We had all this wine made from fruit that we grew at our house in Randallstown [Md.],” says Cindy. “We lived on two and a half acres and had a huge garden and a fruit orchard. We had so much fruit, we didn’t know what to do with it. A friend suggested we make our own wine.” 

With help from their friend and a neighboring blueberry farmer, Cindy and Rick produced a blueberry-flavored wine they named Blue Magma.

“We named it Blue Magma because of one unusual ingredient: hot peppers,” says Cindy. “We grow hot peppers and wondered what it would taste like to put them in the wine. It’s turns out, it’s really good. You get the sweetness of the blueberry but with a tang from the peppers.”  

‘Garden of Eden’

The wine bears the label Harper Hill, named after the home’s original owner, Harper Griswold. Harper and his late wife Katherine built the house in 1970 on a cow pasture that was once part of her family’s farm. 

An arborist and retired landscape architect for The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Harper created a hidden oasis right in the heart of Randallstown. The Joneses purchased the house from Harper in 1994 and enjoyed the fruits of his labor for 22 years. Meanwhile, the seeds of a new friendship were also planted. 

“We looked at a number of homes in the area at the time, but couldn’t find anything we liked,” says Cindy. “The minute we saw Harper’s house, we knew it was the one. It was like a little garden of Eden.”

After they settled into the house, Harper visited and pointed out what kinds of trees there were on the property. “At the time, we had both lost our parents, and Harper was like a father to us. We even had a few photos of him hanging on our refrigerator.” 

Many of the trees on the Randallstown property were planted by Harper himself, including a now-400-foot Wye Oak planted in the front yard from a seedling of what was the largest living white oak tree in the country. 

“Whenever Cindy and Rick would invite me back to the house, it was wonderful to reminisce,” says Harper. “They kept everything pretty much the way we left it.”

Harper and his wife had moved to Charlestown where he felt right at home amongst the 110-acre wooded campus. He quickly became an integral part of Charlestown’s Nature Trail Committee and has shared his knowledge of trees with his neighbors through on-site lectures, classes, and videos.

Friends and neighbors

The three long-time friends recently became neighbors when Cindy and Rick moved to Charlestown last summer.  

“As much as we loved the house, it was becoming more than we wanted to take care of.  We decided we needed to look to the future and how we would take care of ourselves when we got older,” says Cindy.  

“There are lots of things we like about Charlestown,” she adds. “The people are friendly and welcoming. It’s a continuing care environment, which was a big attraction for us. There is so much to do here and get involved in. I enjoy socializing, but I also like to be by myself sometimes, and you can do that here. It’s the best of both worlds.” 

Cindy and Rick selected a two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath apartment home in Charlestown’s historic district overlooking a courtyard and the Terrace Café.  

“We feel at home here,” says Cindy. “We think it is the perfect place for us. We are on the third floor and have a good view of trees. We have these wide windowsills that our two cats love to sit on. In fact, I’ve decided to name our new home Harper Heights.” 

But perhaps most importantly, the Joneses found the perfect place to store those 40 bottles of wine.

“We had a wine rack installed under the pass-through in our kitchen where all of the bottles are on display,” says Cindy. “It looks really pretty.”

Without a doubt, they’ll enjoy sharing those bottles of wine with their dear friend and new neighbor Harper Griswold. 

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