The Street where they live is a town Harford community has roots in 1700s, though its name is misspelled

Neighborhood Profile

December 01, 1996|By Claudia Moessinger | Claudia Moessinger,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Ordering by phone can be complicated for residents of Street.

"If I'm on the phone and I say I live in Street, the operator asks, 'But what is the name of the town?' " Kathy Galbreath says with a sigh.

It could be worse -- Galbreath could be living on Street Road instead of, as is the case, Holy Cross Road in the northern Harford County community.

Street Road, the community of Street (recognized on most maps) and the large postal area called Street are all named (but misspelled) after a prominent family that settled in the area in the 1700s.

Farmhouses and barns now co-exist with a growing number of newly built houses, but Street is "still pretty much what it was," says the Rev. Jeffrey Wilson, a former Harford County Council president whose family has lived in the area since 1755.

It remains characterized by rolling hills and fields of corn. Green pastures are dotted with Holstein cows, sheep and horses. Geese flock to farm ponds. Runaway cows and horses are not uncommon.

From a spelling standpoint, the name might not be so confusing had a letter not been dropped from the original name -- Streett.

According to "Our Harford Heritage," a county history book by C. Milton Wright, Thomas Streett of London was given a land patent in 1759 for 700 acres near what is now Rocks State Park. It was called "Streett's Hunting Ground."

His son, Col. John Streett, led the Harford County Cavalry against the British in the 1814 Battle of North Point, and was also a state legislator. His picture hangs in the county courthouse.

Katherine Streett Davis Scarborough, 72, is a direct descendant of John Streett on her mother's side. She had her wedding reception half a century ago in the colonel's historic house on Holy Cross Road.

"I cut the wedding cake with Colonel John Streett's sword," she said.

The area was an outlying farming district until the late 1800s, when the Maryland and Pennsylvania (Ma and Pa) Railroad built a station to serve farmers in the area. It was named Highland -- built on high ground, at what Wilson described as an ideal site because of its location midway between York, Pa., and Baltimore.

When a post office was opened, the Highland name could not be used because another post office already had it. Thus, the area came be known (and misspelled) as Street.

That is still a touchy matter for some residents, including Wilson, who consider themselves residents of Highland. The area includes landmarks with the Highland name -- such as Highland Presbyterian Church, one of Harford County's most active and most beautiful, built in 1895 along Highland Road.

In 1907, Highland School was built directly across the (pardon the expression) street from the church, one of the earliest consolidated schools in Harford County with students from the first through 11th grades.

The school was vacant for a few years until a community effort transformed it into the Highland Commons, which opened in 1985 and now includes a center for seniors and children, a library, a sheriff's department office and the Mason-Dixon food bank. A small school on the third floor, for children with special needs, is in the works.

"They're a lot of nice people up here," said Galbreath, the new part-time executive director of the Highland Association, which spearheaded the Highland Commons project. Galbreath moved to Street two months ago, and was impressed by the warm welcome from the other (mostly lifelong) residents, she said.

"There's a feeling here that we can do anything," said the Rev. Jim Richards, pastor of Highland Presbyterian, citing not only the community effort in the Highland Commons project but a recent church bazaar (the first in six years) that attracted more than 900 people.

Richards, 47, grew up in York County, Pa., but raised his family in a small farming community in Illinois.

"I think there's a whole different concept of life here," he said. "It's much more hopeful. There's a sense of young people wanting to stay in the area. In Illinois, the biggest problem was that the kids were going away and not coming back."

Like many locals, John Streett Davis, 70, who is Katherine Scarborough's brother, had planned to continue farming his family's several hundred acres on Davis Road. But he saw no future in agriculture, and rather than see the family land developed with houses, he turned it into the highly regarded Geneva Farms Golf Course.

He renovated his turn-of-the-century barn into a country club restaurant. The adjoining feed silos have become staircases, and wedding receptions are held in a section of the barn that formerly housed purebred guernsey cows.

Ed Snodgrass, whose family settled in Street in the 1840s, grew up on a 360-acre grain and dairy farm and still occupies a 90-acre portion of the land along Ady Road. But he has given up the old way of farming in favor of raising llamas -- occasionally selling the animals or their wool, but primarily renting them out for backpacking excursions.

"I'd much rather look at open land than houses," he said.

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