It too frequently happens that a single owner, acting within the structural letter of the law, materially ignores the nature of adjoining property, either by construction of undesirable buildings or objectionable use of those already erected. To prevent the possibility of such a misfortune, the company has adopted restrictions as to the character, location and occupancy of buildings.
So reads an 1890 brochure promoting the first home sales in Sudbrook Park.
As one of the first planned communities in Maryland, Sudbrook Park established deed restrictions on setbacks and lot size that laid the foundation for modern zoning ordinances.
More than a century later, the 204-acre residential community west of Pikesville is committed to promoting the charm and serenity envisioned by its legendary architect, Frederick Law Olmsted Sr.
Sudbrook Park's neighborhood association has received a $9,900 grant from the Maryland Humanities Council to publish two books -- one by Melanie Anson on the community's history, the other by Beryl Frank on community life -- and organize an exhibit and a symposium.
The community also is promoting itself and trying to raise additional money to underwrite publication of the books through Sudbrook Park T-shirt sales.
"We don't want to be the only ones who understand that Olmsted was the foremost landscape architect," said Anson, who gave up law practice to concentrate on writing.
"Olmsted created national treasures."
Olmsted is probably best known for designing Central Park in New York.
In the Baltimore area, his sons planned Roland Park, Guilford, Homeland, Gibson Island and nearly 900 homes and a town square in Dundalk.
Olmsted trademarks include abundant trees, an entranceway bridge, green spaces, strict deed restrictions, mixed lot sizes and curvilinear streets.
"They aren't just curvy streets," said Anson, walking through the quiet neighborhood on a recent evening.
"They merge into the landscape and pull you on."
Oaks, poplars, elms, chestnuts and maple trees create the neighborhood's lush, woodsy feel.
The homes include shingled Dutch Colonials, others that are Queen Anne-styled with turrets, and post-World War II brick Colonials.
Anson, who has lived in Sudbrook Park since 1970, said she couldn't recall the suburb's last robbery or car theft.
Baltimore County police said the area has a community patrol group and crime there has decreased in recent years.
Homes on the market range in price from $115,000 to $269,000, said Rose Jaeger, a real estate agent with O'Conor, Piper & Flynn.
"It's a nice, stable neighborhood where there's not a lot of turnover at one time because people like it so much," Jaeger said.
"It has a certain charm because the streets meander, there's a lot of shade trees and not much traffic."
Sudbrook Park's history dates to 1876, when Olmsted was asked to plan a village on the Sudbrook estate owned by gentleman farmer James Howard McHenry. (Fort McHenry was named for his grandfather, James McHenry, who was George Washington's secretary of state.)
After McHenry's death in 1888, a group of Boston and Philadelphia capitalists formed the Sudbrook Co. and worked with Olmsted on a development plan.
Sudbrook Park opened in 1890 with nine "cottages," ranging from a six-room house for $3,000 to a 12-room house for $6,000.
The Sudbrook Hotel, with its spacious porch, pool and tennis courts, was the social hub of the neighborhood until it burned down in 1926.
The Sudbrook Co. developed 20 percent of the community before it went out of business in 1910, hampered by slow sales and the absence of electric trolley lines into Baltimore.
Construction picked up during World War II, and hundreds of neo-Colonial style homes were built on Sudbrook Park's smaller lots.
The suburb built out around 1954.
Since then, the neighborhood has mobilized twice to fight proposed transportation projects that residents said would harm Sudbrook Park's open spaces.
In the 1960s, residents fought plans to build a six-lane highway through Sudbrook Park.
The state dropped the plan after an 80-acre portion of the neighborhood was designated as a national historic site in 1973.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, residents fought the proposed alignment for the Mass Transit Administration's Metro line.
The MTA agreed to a compromise, building a cut-and-cover tunnel that left the entrance area of the Olmsted plan intact and clearing fewer trees.
In 1993 and 1995, parts of Sudbrook Park were added to the Baltimore County Landmarks Preservation Commission's list of historic sites.
Any construction in the neighborhood would require the commission's approval.
"That it's a historical district is a big contributor to the neighborhood's ambience," said Irma Frank, co-president of the
neighborhood association and a resident since 1964.
"We're very proud of our community because it's a rarity."
Population: 550 households
Commuting time to downtown Baltimore: 25-30 minutes