Adam, his mother says, had been looking for a place on the water, whereas Judy and her husband, Steve, “always had this vision of having a family compound,” a place where everyone could gather for weekends and holidays. Knocking on that kitchen door was the first step in the family’s nine-year odyssey, which involved buying 68 of the farm’s 250 acres with an investment partner for $1.2 million, then dividing the land and selling off some of it, with the Goozh clan eventually winding up with the house and outbuildings on six acres.
Actually, it was two houses, sitting side by side. One was built around 1907. Then, in 1910, Judy and Steve Goozh explain, a second, very similar house — same slate-covered gambrel roof, same white clapboard cladding — was built about 12 feet away, to accommodate the family’s relatives. With a white clapboard facade joining them, the houses presented a united front to visitors. But behind the facade the houses were stitched together by nothing more than a screened-in area, connecting them only on the ground floor.
The Goozhes — he’s a 67-year-old orthodontist, she’s a 65-year-old former clinical social worker — bought the place from the Greenwells, one of the families that trace their Maryland roots back to the mid-17th century. And although the Goozhes might not know St. Mary’s County as well as those early settlers did, they know this house intimately, having taken it down to the studs and rebuilt it piece by piece over the course of two years and $400,000.
Sitting on a spit of land jutting out into the bay, the house is now an improved version of its historical self. The most obvious addition is the very simple but graceful columned veranda that now encircles most of the house, allowing for endless water-gazing. (The house had to be raised to insert steel beams to support the veranda. As the jacks began lifting the house, Leonardtown builder Mike Mummaugh of Paragon Properties phoned Steve Goozh so he could listen in: “Your house is groaning,” Mummaugh told him.)
The front door now leads into a real foyer, replacing that screened-in area. To the right is the “family side” of the house, as the Goozhes call it. Walls were torn out here to open up a cramped kitchen and dining room and connect them to the living room to create a spacious, open family room, complete with an enormous flat-panel TV. There’s a long farm table adjacent, surrounded by a dozen chairs. “We bought [the table] before the house was ready,” says Judy Goozh, “because it had enough chairs” to seat three generations of Goozhes, 11 in all: Steve and Judy; Adam and his wife and two children; and daughter Devon, with her husband and three offspring.