Restaurateurs Randy and Mary Marriner can be found at least five days a week at their popular Columbia eatery, Victoria Gastro Pub, greeting guests, overseeing the kitchen, and making sure the restaurant maintains the reputation that has thus far earned it a dozen awards since its opening just two years ago.
But as much as the Marriners love their London-styled restaurant—designed to be the “living room of the community,” as Randy puts it—they’re equally happy to retreat to Roxbury, the 83-acre estate in the western Howard County town of Brookeville that they call home.
Inscribed with the words, “Hard to Get & Dear paid for, LAND PATENT 1652,” a simple white-pillared sign gives visitors a sense of the history of the land the couple’s 10,000-square-foot house sits on. One of the earliest land grants made in Maryland, all but one acre of the Marriners’ property has been deemed agricultural preservation land and cannot be developed.
When the Marriners bought the property, only a foundation and chimneys dating to the 1700s were left as reminders of the original house. Today, the couple’s garage sits on that site.
Though the original homestead was long gone, the Marriners were able to incorporate a sense of the house’s history into their new home by using stone quarried from the property throughout the exterior and interior.
“We wanted the house to look as if it could have been here for several hundred years,” says Randy, whose own family tree dates back at least that far and includes such prominent Free State names as Warfield, Gaither, and Dorsey.
The Marriners first bought Roxbury—at the time owned by Manhattan Project physicist Dr. Alston Specht—in 1994, but less than a year later moved “just up the road” to Hickory Hill, a “lovely stone home” they painstakingly restored. Though the couple adored their home and had had no plans to move, when the Roxbury property came up for sale again, they found it an opportunity too good to pass up.
Mary served as designer and general manager for the homebuilding project, which took two years to complete. Sharing the home with their daughter Victoria (Tori)—who manages her namesake restaurant—the home features a first-floor master suite for the Marriners and a second-floor master suite for Tori on the opposite end of the house.
Anticipating a time when climbing the beautiful curving black-walnut staircase may not be as easy as it is today, the home also features an elevator from basement to attic (“a real help even now when moving clothes each season,” says Mary).
While the house is indisputably large, it is also indisputably homey, designed in the style of a country manor. “We didn’t want one of these McMansions with rooms that are so large you get lost in them,” says Mary, who decorated both the couple’s home and restaurant.
The light-filled living room, with French doors along the back wall leading to a terrace with sweeping views (including of the neighbor’s horses—beautiful to look at and a pleasure not to own, Randy laughs), is comfortably furnished with a plush sofa and armchairs, in soft tones of taupe and camel, encircling one of the home’s five stone fireplaces.
A collection of Rose Medallion porcelain passed down from Randy’s grandmother sits in the built-in shelves flanking the fireplace; a sentimental addition to the collection was a bowl left for the Marriners by Roxbury’s former owner when he moved away.
As befits a couple in the restaurant industry, the Marriners love to entertain, whether it’s dinner in the claret-red, silk-covered dining room; at their elder daughter’s wedding, held shortly after the house was completed; or at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s Seventh Annual Howard County Wine Masters Event, which they’ll host for the third consecutive year on September 11, 2009.