Parkville: Diverse, peaceful, convenient 'We moved here' in 1955, and it's stayed nice'

Neighborhood Profile

September 15, 1996|By Pat Brodowski | Pat Brodowski,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Parkville is as its name suggests: a quiet suburb in Baltimore County, where modest homes are surrounded by tidy landscapes of manicured lawns, flower beds and mature trees. It's almost hard to believe Parkville is within a minute or two of the Beltway and is overlapped in some areas by Baltimore City limits.

"People have yards. That's important. We moved here in 1955, and it's stayed nice," said Mary Miller of Daniels Avenue, a community of mostly two-story homes near Parkwood Cemetery.

"People came here before and during World War II, from North Carolina and West Virginia, and those who stayed had that gardening way of life in them," said Mary Miller's husband, George. "To most people, it was a suburb. They moved from the inner city, from the marble steps, and came out."

Parkville and Carney share ZIP code 21234, but people draw the line between the two communities at Joppa Road. Parkville was mapped as Lavender Hill in 1866 and then as Parkville in 1874, with a postage-stamp park between six blocks of homes along Oak and Chestnut avenues at Taylor Avenue (called Towson Avenue at that time). A memorial for war veterans now stands in the park.

The Beltway was built through the Woodcroft section of Parkville in the early 1960s. When the highway exits opened, they were celebrated. George and Mary Miller made home movies of one ribbon-cutting from their car. "We drove so many exits, and people in their back yards were waving," said George Miller.

Recently, towering concrete panels have been erected along the Beltway through Woodcroft, to reduce traffic noise.

"It's peaceful and quiet around here," said Vince Kemp, pausing a lawn mower at his single-story brick rancher on Burridge Road. He and his wife, Carol, chose Woodcroft eight years ago to be closer to aging relatives. "We moved here for location. It's centralized, but out of the hustle and bustle, except the Beltway. But my wife never hears it. She grew up here." The Kemps both work for Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., and "we can be called to go anywhere," he said. "We're three miles to the city line. We can be at the stadium in 12 to 15 minutes, another 10 minutes to the heart of it all."

Kemp's neighbor Jack Dumler, now in his retirement, has long been part of the Woodcroft Community Association, starting when their Park Manor area was asked to join Woodcroft. The association still links the residents on both sides of the Beltway, and publishes a monthly newsletter.

"The association has good rapport with political people, and we [the association] don't hesitate to see them," Dumler said.

"We worked to get our streetlights," said Dumler's wife, Jean, "I was a block captain. We moved in right after the Beltway. There's a very low crime rate, I understand, and we have a Neighborhood Watch program. The people who have stayed here are usually people with a feeling of neighborliness, and whom you could go to if you needed help."

Parkville enjoys ethnic diversity.

"This area is known as Little Italy No. 2, because of the Italian folks," Jack Dumler said.

"All different faiths have churches here," said Mary Miller of Daniels Avenue.

And mention Mueller's Deli, at Harford Road and Rosalie Avenue, and everyone remembers the three generations of Muellers and their authentic German bread, beer, meats and cheeses.

George Mueller, now deceased, left Germany in 1923, worked at Bethlehem Steel, as a bricklayer, and then storekeeper for more than 12 years in Highlandtown, where his son, Edward, remembers he began working "as a kid, 5 years old, delivering around the neighborhood in a wagon." The Muellers moved in the late 1940s to the "six mile house" on Harford Road, and by 1966 had remodeled it into a deli and liquor store and were open 70 hours a week, recalls Edward Mueller, who's now 62.

"Lots of kids worked for us. Four became policemen; one now manages a supermarket; one's a department manager at Macy's," he said.

Of Edward Mueller's three sons, Ken chose the deli life, serving neighbors he's known since he was a child. It's an unpretentious place for sandwiches and commentary. And for 50 years, Parkville and nearby Hamilton children have received free pretzels.

"We have children of children coming in, and the first thing is the pretzel," said Ken Mueller, 32. His three children attend Villa Cresta, as did he. He coaches Little League baseball, as did his father. He's coached for about 15 years, with about 360 children currently signed up. Edward and Ken Mueller are the first father and son to have presided over the Harford Park Little League.

Change in Parkville can be assessed by change in taste: The younger residents don't order hogshead cheese or blood pudding, for example. They do enjoy Advent calendars stuffed with imported chocolates, or 20 choices of German breads. Among 115 meats and cheeses, many of them authentic German recipes, the Landyeagerwurst might seem out of place until one is told it's for "hunters of the land," a sausage ready for the backpack.

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