Cozy, convenient and quite charming Longtime residents 'love the area,' as do newcomers

Neighborhood Profile: Cedarcroft

October 12, 1997|By Bob Graham | Bob Graham,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

When Jerry and Sue O'Donnell moved from Waverly to the Cedarcroft area 32 years ago, they had been looking for a quiet area offering a short commute to Jerry's work at several State Highway Administration offices in Baltimore.

They found a three-bedroom duplex on Dartmouth Road in Evesham Park, a subdivision of Cedarcroft, and now, as family and friends suggest that they move to Baltimore County, they're resisting, saying their quiet street, friendly neighbors and the surrounding open spaces make it difficult to leave for the county.

"This has been nice and quiet, and we've been surrounded by a lot of good, good neighbors," Sue O'Donnell said. Without realizing, she proceeds to tick off the names, fields of employment, number of years in the neighborhood and other details for about eight neighbors, all while carrying groceries from her car to the front door. "We love the area," her husband adds.

The O'Donnells are one of the many families who moved to what was considered the suburbs in the 1950s.

And, while it isn't covered in pavement and concrete, the area hardly would pass for suburbia today. Many World War II veterans and their families moved into the Cedarcroft area when its diverse housing was being built. Times were good, jobs plentiful and their income as middle-class families was enough to allow them to splurge on three- , four- and five-bedroom houses near the county.

To meet the needs of that market, homebuilders designed a wide range of housing, from Victorians to Cape Cods, Colonials to bungalows, rowhouses to duplexes. The Cedarcroft area covers about one-third of the 21212 ZIP code area. It includes the smaller subdivisions of Lake Evesham, Old Cedarcroft, Chinquapin Park and Lake Walker. The area, according to Sidney H. Tanner, a resident of Chinquapin Park and a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Grempler Realty Inc., is defined as the city boundary to the north, Bellona Avenue to the west, Lake Avenue to York Road to Belvedere Avenue on the south and Chinquapin Parkway to the east.

"We've got some of everything here," Tanner said.

The diversity of home styles will be on display next Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., at the First Community Wide Open House. An event designed for prospective buyers, the event will include lists of up to 160 homes for sale in the area, with prices ranging from the $60,000s to the $250,000s. The lists will be available at Govans Presbyterian Church at 5826 York Road, below Northern Parkway. All the homes on the lists in the communities of Cedarcroft, Lake Evesham, Lake Walker, Chinquapin Park and Belvedere will be open for visits during the afternoon.

While it may seem that a community open house is a signal of a poor housing market, the opposite is actually true, said Tanner, who organized the event. A number of older residents who moved into the area when it was first popular are moving to retirement communities or into homes with their children or other relatives. Now in their 70s, 80s and 90s, these residents hope that the open house will offer a quick and easy way for them to show their homes to prospective buyers at one time, Tanner said.

"This is a great place to live, and we want to show it off," Tanner said.

As more and more cookie-cutter communities pop up farther away from Baltimore each year, Cedarcroft offers the charm of a mature community. Many of the homes have updated features, said Tanner, who moved to his three-bedroom townhouse on Northern Parkway in 1978. An employee of a computer firm in Philadelphia, he needed a home that would be convenient for him as well as for his wife, who worked in downtown Baltimore.

Nineteen years later, Tanner says he's never thought of leaving. "I like the people, the houses and the neighbors and the area along Northern Parkway," Tanner said.

Except for Northern Parkway and York Road, practically every street in the neighborhood offers views of houses sided in brick, stone, vinyl and aluminum. Most homes feature square or rectangular yards, many fenced with chain links in the back. Most lots are 60 to 100 feet long, giving residents sizable front and back yards.

The majority of roads are lined with mature hardwoods, the types that may never grow in today's suburbs. Besides giving the neighborhood a warm and nostalgic feeling, the trees offer residents a reason to get outside, to meet their neighbors, to stroll to Chinquapin Run Park, a mile-long, narrow swatch of open space running north and south from below Belvedere Avenue to Lake Avenue. On weekends, everything from family picnics to impromptu get-togethers occurs around the picnic tables and charcoal grill pits, while children and adults play basketball, walk pets and the like.

A number of people moving into the area are young couples who have not yet started their families; professionals who work in the city; and students who came to Baltimore to attend one of the area colleges.

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