Dream home: Cottage is educated choice for former Goucher president

On the 94-acre campus of Broadmead, a retirement community, there is an immediate sense that this isomething very different from preconceived notions about senior life residences.

Instead of multistory buildings tucked into the hills of Hunt Valley, little clusters of cottages have been designed and built on the property. Each cluster of one-story bungalows is like a small court of homes in a quaint village, albeit one that is rich in wildlife, nature trails and the protected wetlands of Western Run.

Rhoda Dorsey's cottage is located in the newest group of homes.

"I first knew about Broadmead when it was in the initial planning stages, since I had a colleague at Goucher who was involved," said the vibrant 84-year-old former president of Goucher College, who retired in 1994. "From the start, I liked their emphasis on a retirement community that would provide lively independent living as well as lifetime health care."

And so she signed up and spent $372,000 for her two-bedroom cottage, one of 250 on the campus. The residence harbors a pleasant and unexpected surprise just inside the front door: a sun-filled great room with a cathedral ceiling and a west-facing back wall of windows that draws guests into the heart of her home.

"On my first visit to Broadmead, I was shown the new section and the apartment which ultimately became mine," said Dorsey. "It had the space I was looking for, a beautiful view of open fields and woods, sunshine in the afternoon, and old friends for neighbors. How lucky can one get?"

Dorsey was also lucky enough to have some help with her move. "Mel Linton of Linton Interiors helped me move from a house to an apartment, adding cabinets and curtains and bringing old furniture to a new locale," she said.

A designer's touch is seen in interior walls that are painted a light cream and an accent wall that is swathed in deep blue and contrasts with custom-built shelves. The keys to Dorsey's life, academic interests, passions and former career as an educator are displayed in the shelves as well as in a second bookcase built into a perpendicular wall.

Several pieces of memorabilia from England and Cambridge University, where she received an honorary doctorate, are displayed along with family photos, silver serving pieces and small sculptures. The bookshelf houses volumes on history — Dorsey is a former history professor — and nonfiction. Wall hangings include landscape paintings she picked up on her visits to New Zealand and framed museum posters, including one from an Impressionism exhibit she attended. There is also a print of Colonial Baltimore hanging in the hallway.

Dorsey's taste in decor is decidedly Colonial, with damask-covered armchairs and a rocker sitting on an Oriental carpet in the great room. These pieces are part of a central cluster that also includes a love seat with bright throw pillows, all gathered around a low, circular coffee table.

The living space in her unit totals 1,484 square feet. In addition to the central area with a fully equipped kitchen, there are a small den and two bedrooms, one on either end of the space. The spare bedroom and bathroom form a wing on the south side with a hall door that, when closed, forms a own private suite.

"When I walked in [th home], the first thing I saw was the kitchen," Dorsey said. "I'm a cook, and I have counter space!"

Seated in a chair by the large wall of windows with her Siamese cat, Angel, purring softly in her lap, Dorsey speaks highly of life at Broadmead.

"I like the people here," she said. "Many are Goucher or Smith [College] alumnae or friends. … People are welcoming and cordial. They are also engaged both at Broadmead and in outside activities.

"They care about nature and politics and world hunger; they exercise and walk their dogs — or cats, in my case — and visit the sick and infirm here; they arrange for and attend lectures, concerts, day trips, bingo and bridge. … The sense of community is strong."

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Making the dream

Dream realized: "I love my new home and have settled in with great pleasure," said Rhoda Dorsey. "I did go to Broadmead often [before moving in], to visit Goucher alumnae and retired faculty who lived there. I found then uniformly enthusiastic about their choice.

"Still later, after my own retirement, I began to plan for my next move. My requirements then were a low-rise building where I could walk out, ... good health care and a lively community with intellectual and humane concerns. I also wanted ample space for me and my cat, Angel, space for my sister and brother-in-law to visit easily, and a good-sized kitchen."