Angie Moore had always envisioned retiring to a horse farm, but as a single mom raising four children in a modest home in Linthicum, her dream was a distant one. Then ironically, one of the darkest times in her life led to her dream becoming a reality. In 2003, her mother, Glenda Johnson, died unexpectedly. Johnson's life partner, Aris Melissaratos, who acted as a father to Angie and her brood, offered to buy the brokenhearted family a horse farm where they all—including Melissaratos—could start a new life together. While only 13 at the time, Moore's daughter, Sabrina, headed up the search for real estate.
"My grandfather told me to look on the Internet," recalls Sabrina, now 18.
It didn't take Sabrina long to find a suitable farmhouse, but when the family took a Sunday drive to see it, they discovered the house had yet to be built. As luck would have it, just around the corner in the same Glyndon neighborhood, a magnificent, 14,000-square-foot, seven bedroom Georgian-style estate set on 44 acres of rambling farmland was for sale. The only problem? The asking price of $3.9 million.
A year later, the price had dropped considerably. "One day, Sabrina came running up from the basement," recalls Melissaratos, the senior adviser to the president of The Johns Hopkins University. "She said, 'The house is cheaper now. It's only 2.5 million!' So we bought it."
As Melissaratos eats lunch in the red and yellow French Provincial kitchen overlooking a pool area designed by Disney Imagineering, Moore looks lovingly at the man she and her children affectionately call Papou (Greek for "grandfather").
"My mom and I were very close, and her death took a lot out of me," says Moore. "For a couple of years, I was really down in the dumps, but living here has really helped me feel like my old self again. I think that's why Papou did this for all of us—to try and start over again. To create memories somewhere else."
Moore and Melissaratos threw themselves into decorating a home now suffused with light, life, and luxurious sophistication. And although Melissaratos, the former head of the Department of Business and Economic Development, doesn't live in the house—he has a home in Linthicum—he visits daily. He also uses the home to entertain business associates and host charity events benefiting such causes as Cystic Fibrosis and the American Heart Association.
"I wanted a place I could bring my friends and political connections," says Melissaratos. "We've hosted more than 2,000 people here."
Clearly, Melissaratos's greatest act of generosity has been helping his beloved surrogate daughter along the road to recovery.
"We moved here in 2006," says Moore, "and three years later, it's still unbelievable to me that we live here—I always thought I'd have a horse farm, but one of your typical little country ranchers with a red barn. I never imagined we'd live in something this grand. Being here has helped me heal so much, and my father has been my guardian angel. I am grateful for this house and for him every day."