The friendliness grows easily amid trees, boats and breezes Arundel community loves the world it sees from its hillside homes

Neighborhood Profile: Severna Park

March 02, 1997|By Judy Reilly | Judy Reilly,SPECIAL TO THE SUNSUN STAFF

Houses hug the hillsides, shaded by mature trees. Winding streets meander to the Severn or Magothy Rivers. Boats dock on community piers. Kids are everywhere. Local shopkeepers know their customers by name. Welcome to Severna Park.

An Anne Arundel community located minutes from Annapolis and a short commute to Baltimore or Washington, Severna Park is an ideal location for families, for people who love the water and for those who enjoy the convenience of living close to shops and services.

Chip Carr, 34, a Realtor with O'Conor, Piper and Flynn, has spent most of his life in Round Bay, an original Severna Park neighborhood noted for its neighborliness, stability, tidy properties, river breezes and spectacular views of the Severn.

On a morning's drive, Carr pointed out the community piers, beaches, picnic areas and tot lots; a hike and bike trail; and the variety of single-family homes, ranging from sprawling ranchers and 1940s Cape Cods to the newest modular houses.

"The image a lot of people have of Severna Park is of the barefoot kids with their crab nets, chicken bones and fishing nets, walking down to the river to spend a summer day crabbing and fishing," he said. "It was like that when I was growing up here, and it's still like that today."

"Families spend their summer along the river. Kids are on the neighborhood swim teams, and they compete against kids from the other neighborhoods," Carr added. "There are neighborhood camps in the summertime, ghost stories at Halloween, and big Fourth of July parties. It's very much been a place of sailing, boating, water skiing and kayaking.

"One of the big enhancements now is the B and A [Baltimore and Annapolis] hike and bike trail. It's packed on the weekends."

Housing in the area starts at $165,000 for a home in the older interior neighborhoods, $115,000 to 250,000 for housing in some waterfront communities and up to $1 million for a home on the waterfront with private pier privileges.

Severna Park began as a popular place to visit, to escape Baltimore's steamy summers, during the early part of this century. There were a few large homesteads and public buildings, surrounded by woods and farmland, in the early 1900s, but the area was especially popular with Baltimoreans who took the railroad from Camden Station to Round Bay, where a hotel, dance pavilion, picnic grounds and bathhouse awaited.

The area's role as a summer escape ended in 1910 when entrepreneurs Norvell Chapman, Walter Piper and Ernest LeSeur bought the property from the railroad and began to develop and sell housing lots. The area got a further boon as a residential development in 1944, when various family tracts were sold to developers, who rapidly sold the scenic lots overlooking the Severn River.

By the 1960s and 1970s, baby boomers were being raised in close-knit neighborhoods and developments on the Magothy River, as well as the Severn, where they could bike to Olde Severna Park Village Shopping Center to buy penny candy or cinnamon rolls or stop for a drink at a soda fountain.

Elsie Wingate Mullinex, a resident of the area since 1939, and editor of the newly published "Severna Park Reflections," says of her neighborhood: "There's an amazingly little country atmosphere to it -- people are neighborly and friendly." Empty-nesters, who raised their kids in the area and then moved on, have discovered that their children, now grown and fueled with memories of idyllic childhoods, want to come back and raise their families in the river front setting. Or they want to come back themselves.

Zelma Gossard, who spent her childhood in a big home in Fair Oaks on the Magothy, sold her house a few years ago, moved to a winterized summer home on the Chester River, and now she wants to return. Gossard and her husband, Bill, a retired engineer, plan to move back to the area into McKinsey Park, a retirement community. "We're dying to get back over here," she said.

Severna Park

Population: 32,380

Commuting Time to Downtown Baltimore: 25 minutes

Public schools: Severna Park High School, Severna Park Middle, Benfield Elementary School, Folger McKinsey Elementary, Jones Elementary, Oak Hill Elementary, Severna Park Elementary, Shipley's Choice Elementary

Nearest Malls: Marley Station Mall, Annapolis Mall

ZIP Code: 21146

Average price of a single family home: $250,520

* Based on 334 sales during the past 12 months according to the Anne Arundel County Board of Realtors

Pub Date: 3/02/97

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