A tour through Cedarcroft on an autumn day provides glimpses of natural beauty that is unusual in urban areas.
The magnificent sycamore trees, which line several of the neighborhood streets, form arches that are reminiscent of medieval churches. And the houses, as well as the trees, are stately and impressive.
The neighborhood in the 1880s was part of the Cedarcroft estate of Philip E. Lamb, a prominent Baltimore land developer.
There is debate about what area constitutes Cedarcroft. Many residents and Realtors in adjacent neighborhoods refer to them as South Cedarcroft, East Cedarcroft or simply Cedarcroft.
The most widely accepted boundaries of the community are Gittings Avenue on the north, York Road on the east, Lake Avenue on the south and Bellona Avenue on the west.
Mr. Lamb purchased the land in 1885 and "in 1886 built a frame house which still stands, though much altered and enlarged, at what is now 6204 Sycamore Road," according to the Cedarcroft Maintenance Corp., the neighborhood organization which enforces architectural and community standards.
When Mr. Lamb built his house the area was heavily wooded and largely rural. It had apple, peach and plum orchards and a few wealthy Baltimoreans had summer homes there. Most residents kept chickens and grew their own vegetables, and Baltimore was a 45-minute trip by horse-drawn trolley.
In 1910 Philip Lamb, along with three associates, founded the Cedarcroft Land Co. with the goal of developing the land into a residential area.
I= The company expanded to include the architects who had de
signed some homes in the surrounding area.
By 1921, there were about 30 houses in Cedarcroft, as well as the Episcopal Church of the Nativity -- at York and Cedarcroft roads.
Shortly thereafter, when all the plots had been sold, the company was dissolved and replaced by the Cedarcroft Maintenance Corp. and Cedarcroft Improvement Association, which sponsors several social activities.
Most of the community's houses were built in the 1920s an today there are about 125 houses in Cedarcroft.
Realtor Sandra Jaskulski of O'Conor, Piper and Flynn's Towson-South office said a Cedarcroft house sells for $75,000 less than a comparable house in Stoneleigh, north and just across the city-county line, and $100,000 less than those in Homeland, to the south.
"A house on Pinehurst Road recently sold for $199,500," she says. "It is a three-story colonial with four bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths, kitchen, fireplace, two-car garage, hardwood floors, family room and a lot that had been beautifully landscaped."
She also described a neighborhood home that sold for $149,000. "Again, it had three levels on a double lot," she explains, "and six bedrooms, a winterized sun room, family room, kitchen, living room, dining room and kitchen."
"It is a house with high ceilings and an odd floor plan -- providing plenty of nooks and crannies for kids to hide in. However, there is no master bath and the closets are not terrific."
According to Ms. Jaskulski, 37 houses have been sold this year in Cedarcroft. The top-selling price this year for a house in the community was $199,500 but last year a Cedarcroft house that had been on the market for seven days sold for $217,500, according to Ms. Jaskulski.
Another house -- with four bedrooms -- sold in 1989 for $220,000 after eight days on the market, she said.
The Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors shows that of Cedarcrofthouses sold last year, there were two with four bedrooms, which sold for $192,000 and $220,000 respectively. The house that sold for $217,500 last year has five bedrooms.
This year, three three-bedroom houses have sold in the community for $164,000 to $169,500. Two four-bedroom homes have sold for $198,000 and $199,500.
A longtime resident of Cedarcroft tells of the purchase in th mid-1960s of a three-story, five-bedroom home with 2 1/2 baths and a sun porch for $26,500; its asking price today would be more than $200,000.
Aside from its brick, wood and stone houses, many with large porches, Cedarcroft residents also note its convenience to both the city and Baltimore County and its access to bus lines on York Road, Charles Street and Northern Parkway. The neighborhood is zoned only for single-family homes.
While there are no schools in the community, there are several public, parochial and private schools, nearby. These include the Gilman School, Bryn Mawr, Roland Park Country, Boys' Latin, the Cathedral School, St. Mary's, and the Friends School.
The Senator Theatre and the York Road Cinema are in the York Road corridor near Cedarcroft. There is also a commercial district with a Giant supermarket, several small businesses, a Caldor store and the Belvedere Square market nearby.
The neighborhood is one of a few in the city that has curbside pickup of recyclable bottles and cans.
Homeowners with children praise the community. "There are lots of kids in this neighborhood," says Cedarcroft resident Robert Perciasepe. "And there is plenty of space for them to play."