A beautiful showcase for the four seasons

NEIGHBORHOOD PROFILE

July 30, 1995|By Mary Medland | Mary Medland,Special to The Sun

Although most everything surrounding Campus Hills has changed since its development 40 years ago, the neighborhood remains virtually the same.

Campus Hills derives its name from Goucher College; it lies to the east of the school.

Goucher sold the land to developers Ralph De Chiaro and Anthony Sanzo in December 1954, says Steve Considine, a past president of the Campus Hills Community Association.

At the time, the 248 acres were essentially rural. Nevertheless, on the first day houses went on the market in 1955, 232 were sold; since then there have been 369 homes completed, each on approximately one-third acre of land.

Today the neighborhood is almost entirely homeowner occupied with very few rental properties and very little commercial enterprise -- a Royal Farm store and one office building.

The showpiece of the neighborhood is its community garden, which is situated on the median strip on Goucher Boulevard. In existence since 1980, the garden is planned around the four seasons.

"It's a combination of perennials, bulbs, ornamental grasses, and trees," says Garden Committee Chair Sunny Rudolph.

The garden/median strip, which also forms one of the community's borders, is well known.

"People have come from other cities and states to see this garden," continues Ms. Rudolph, who notes that the garden has also won several landscaping awards.

Designed by the landscape architect Wolfgang Oehme, who lives in a nearby neighborhood, the strip is divided into 18 plots.

Determined to be low maintenance, nothing changes from year to year, only from season to season.

Spring sees pear trees in bloom, as well as daffodils, tulips, and grape hyacinths; summer brings black-eyed Susans, white sweet pea-like flowers, and a variety of ornamental grasses.

By the time fall rolls around, the pear trees are a brilliant red, the ground cover flowers turn a deep blue, and in winter one can see the dwarf bamboo, the dried buff plumes of ornamental grasses, and the green and blue-green of junipers.

Last year, the neighborhood sponsored its first house and garden tour, a fund raiser for the community garden. "There was a nominal admission fee," Ms. Rudolph says, "and the tour included 18 houses and gardens."

But the main fund-raising project for the garden is an annual spring sale. "It's a large festival," Ms. Rudolph says. "We buy thousands of dollars' worth of plants to sell." Through its garden club, Campus Hills also participates in a state-funded program -- TREEmendous. Communities are offered trees at a low price to plant in common areas, and Campus Hills just added more than 200.

Campus Hills is virtually next door to four shopping centers, Mr. Considine says. "We are in walking distance of Towson Town Center and Towson Commons," he notes. In the other direction is Towson Marketplace, formerly known as Eudowood Plaza, and Hillendale Shopping Center.

Restaurants in the central business district of Towson alone number at least 40.

Goucher College and Towson State University are nearby, and both provide numerous opportunities for cultural enrichment -- concerts, lectures, recitals, theater.

Along with Goucher and Towson University, there are several public schools either in the neighborhood or nearby.

"There are many children in the neighborhood," says Mike Mulford, another resident. Private schools include Calvert Hall College, Notre Dame Preparatory School, and Peabody Preparatory Institute.

Easy access

In addition to shopping and schools, Campus Hills also has easy access to physicians, Greater Baltimore Medical Center, attorneys, and churches. A major stop for the No. 8 bus to downtown is the Towson Courthouse.

And when the errands and shopping are done, the quiet of Loch Raven Reservoir is nearby.

Campus Hills' very active community association maintains a directory of residents; the association also monitors compliance with covenants. As late as 1984, 40 percent of the homeowners were original owners; today estimates run closer to 25 percent.

A settled neighborhood with tree-lined streets, the homes are mostly split level or ranchers.

While originally none had central air conditioning and had small kitchens, many owners have made significant renovations and improvements over the years, Mr. Mulford says.

In addition to supervising covenants, the association sponsors a community cleanup twice a year, which is followed by a block party, Mr. Mulford says, noting that there is also a community newsletter published by the association.

Campus Hills sponsors Halloween and Christmas parties, as well as an Easter egg hunt. On Christmas Eve, sidewalks are lighted by "luminarios," candles glowing inside paper bags.

People move to Campus Hills, Mr. Considine says, for its convenience, and accessibility to schools, I-695, and downtown.

"My wife and I thought about moving elsewhere a year or so ago," Mr. Considine says. "But we just couldn't leave the neighborhood."

CAMPUS HILLS

Population: 3,188 total population (1990 census)

Commuting time to Baltimore: 15-20 minutes

Commuting time to Washington: 1 hour

Public schools: Loch Raven Middle School, Loch Raven High School, Cromwell Valley Regional Magnet School of Technology

Shopping: Hillendale Shopping Center, Towson Marketplace

Nearest mall: Towson Town Center, Towson Commons

Points of Interest: Hampton House National Historical Site, Loch Raven Reservoir, Goucher College. Towson State University

Average price for single-family home: $152,800, based on sale of five houses from Jan. 1 to June 30

ZIP code: 21286

* Average price for homes sold through the Mid-Atlantic Real Estate Information Technologies' multiple listing service.

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