Shaded streets, sunny neighbors

NEIGHBORHOOD PROFILE

July 03, 1994|By Melody Simmons | Melody Simmons,Sun Staff Writer

Walking by the shady streets, manicured lawns and colorful blooms of Ednor Gardens and Lakeside, neighbors often call out friendly greetings.

Many who live in the tiny community nestled behind Memorial Stadium and next to Lake Montebello say they love it because it offers an old-fashioned, borrowed cup-of-sugar-over-the-backyard-fence lifestyle which has all but vanished in other city neighborhoods. Those who move away often return. Many swap garden advice and plants.

One elderly gentleman even willed his house to another neighbor who cared for him in his final days.

"What's neat about Ednor Gardens is that we are a little pocket of civilization," says Betsey Foster, president of the Ednor Gardens-Lakeside Community Association. "We have a cohesive community that works together to solve [urban] problems."

After a drop in crime by 16 percent over 1992 figures, the community earlier this year was rocked by a rash of crime for about five weeks including the murder of a city correctional officer, Jerry Watkins, who was shot during a botched robbery as he returned home from work in late January. Another resident was robbed of his wallet, watch and a pan of lasagna as he returned home from a party.

But residents quickly banded together and flooded the area with leaflets promoting safety tips. Together with extra city police patrols, they thwarted the crime wave and now feel safer, Ms. Foster says.

Today, the neighborhood is preparing to welcome the Canadian Football League to Memorial Stadium. Recalling a day when their streets would echo the deafening roar of the legendary upper deck fans as Johnny Unitas led the National Football League Colts to glory, residents are anxiously preparing for the return of pro football to the neighborhood's most famous landmark.

Already, that same upper deck has been gussied up with bold stripes of the CFL team's blue and gray colors as part of a $2.5 million renovation spearheaded by team owner Jim Speros. Soon, hot dog, peanut and souvenir vendors will set up shop with the first of nine regular season games on July 16 against Calgary -- a June 29 pre-season game was played against Winnipeg.

Along with the sports revelry, area residents are expecting increased city services, like more trash removal, street cleaning and extra security.

"We're looking forward to a shot in the arm and a new life," says Brian Hannon, a Ednor Gardens resident who is also a real estate agent with Prudential Preferred Properties. "The stadium is a big anchor in the neighborhood and we're hoping that some football players will buy homes here."

Besides Memorial Stadium, the neighborhood also borders Lake Montebello, the deep blue oasis in the heart of the city's northeast corridor that is a haven for walkers, joggers and bicyclists.

Many of the brick colonial homes in Lakeside face the lake while other homes built in Spanish, bungalow and saltbox styles are located along tree-lined streets that have a view of the water.

The neighborhood was once part of the 500-acre estate of Gen. Samuel Smith, a Revolutionary War hero, U.S. congressman and senator and former mayor of Baltimore. After he fought alongside the French Army, General Smith named his home Montebello after the French victory in the battle of Montebello in 1800.

The land was later purchased by John W. Garrett, who was president of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and an ambassador to England. He built a racetrack and stables there.

In the 1920s, the homes in Ednor Gardens and Lakeside were built. Named after the developer's two sons -- Edward and Norwood -- the E. J. Gallagher Realty Co. planned and built a tidy neighborhood of English Tudor and French Norman-style rowhouses that hold their distinction today.

Houses have the craftsmanship of hardwood floors inlaid with walnut edging, solid brass hardware, soft archways dividing living and dining rooms and stained and leaded glass windows. Bright sun porches, plaster walls and slate roofs also add to the unique quality of the homes.

A vintage 1920s brochure detailing the Ednor Gardens row homes touted the neighborhood as elegant, exclusive and beautifully designed.

"It is a joy to live in a house like this," the brochure says. "Every inch of it has been thoughtfully, carefully planned for practical use and for artistic effect. The sunlight streams through lovely casement windows, but these windows are securely sealed against every attempt that Jack Frost can ever make to whistle his way through possible crack or crevice."

Today, the homes receive almost the same reviews by their owners.

"I just like it over here. It is nice and quiet and a great neighborhood," says Virginia "Peaches" Pinnix, 72, who has lived in Ednor Gardens since 1979.

Another neighbor, Rob Preston, heartily agrees.

"There is a nice sense of community and I like the architectural detail of the houses," he says. "Living in the city with all of its problems, makes us hunker down and it brings us closer as neighbors."

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