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Dream Fulfillment

A Maryland log home incorporates everything from an ambitious wish list.

Exterior view of the Hennessey log home

All homeowners have a wish list of some sort when they start to build. The list usually features dozens of ideas culled from years of discussions and thoughts about the dream home. In most cases, much of the list has to be discarded for budgetary or practical reasons. On rare occasions, the entire list is incorporated into a project. Such is the case of the building of the Hennessey log home in Damascus, Maryland, just outside of Washington D.C. John and Linda Hennessey had built a two-story home several years ago and started to feel the need to expand.

“We loved the home, but after we had lived in it awhile, we started a wish list of what our next home would include,” he says. The list continued to grow. One day, an opportunity presented itself. Not far from the Hennessey home was a five-acre cornfield that was just about the hit the market. “I was driving to work one day when I saw realtors putting up a For Sale sign on this beautiful piece of land,” says Linda. I turned around and got John involved right away. We had an offer in by the end of the day.” “Finding a parcel like this in Montgomery Country is almost impossible,” John says. “I love to garden and this was like a blank slate waiting to be developed.” (He would be able to plant 30 large trees and more than 2,000 perennials around the property.)

View of the great room from the upper level

Next came the creation of the home plans. “We looked at a variety of homes and had the opportunity to visit a nearby Katahdin Cedar Log Home model for some ideas,” says John. “As soon as we walked in the door, we were awe-struck by the huge M-truss in the roofing system [a signature piece for Katahdin]. We then knew we wanted a log home with this truss in the plans.” First on the Hennessey wish list was a practical first floor master suite. “We’re at that time in our lives where living on one floor makes sense,” says Linda. And as it turned out, all the bedrooms are master suites — perfect for kids returning from college or out-of-town guests. “We also love wine, so building a wine room on the lower level was a must,” Linda says.

The home also features a theater room, a family room, and a fireplace on the lower level. Even as the home was being built, changes were made to improve the layout. One change was to move the French doors from the back of the home to the side by the dining room and extend the deck around to that side. “This allowed easy access to the kitchen from the driveway and from the grill without having to go through the whole house,” says John.

The custom red and white kitchen brings a modern twist to the home

Because they wanted to make sure this home was built exactly to their specifications, John and Linda scrutinized the construction. “I warned our builder [Dave D’Amore, of D’Amore Construction] when he took the job that I only lived a quarter mile down the road and would be there every day,” says John. “He was fine with that. Between us, we adjusted and modified our way to a very nice home. Dave had many great ideas. As a matter of fact, whenever Dave called me and began his sentence with ‘I don’t want to tell you how to spend your money, but…,’ I knew he had a great idea that I couldn’t refuse,” John says. "I should have learned not to answer the phone.”

The original plan called for six posts around the home to hold up the purlin roofing system, which could potentially block the view, John says. “We had engineers reconfigure the loads and materials and then came up with a metal beam system, covered with wood, to hold up the roof,” he says.

Much more about this home, plus floor plans, ran in the Country's Best Log Homes 2009 Annual Buyer's Guide.

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