Single-family allure at townhouse prices Fullerton offers close-in convenience and nice people

Neighborhood Profile: Fullerton

December 14, 1997|By Bob Graham | Bob Graham,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Krista Young is hanging red velvet bows with gold trim on her fence, readying her corner house on Lydale Avenue in Fullerton for the holidays.

With the bows, the lights and other decorations, Young is renewing a tradition in her home that began while she was growing up in the neighborhood.

Last August, Young, 30, her husband, William, a technician at a brake shop on Belair Road, and two children moved into the three-bedroom, single-family house, just a few blocks from where she grew up.

The 1985 graduate of Overlea High School is trying to show her husband and children, Jessy, 12, and B. J., 1, all the things she grew up with and things she wants them to share.

"I like that I know where things are around here, that the people are nice, that I know a lot of them, that it's a place I feel comfortable and my family can feel comfortable," Young said. "It's just a good place for us to raise our family."

Fullerton seems to be an area in eastern Baltimore County that gets overlooked by homebuyers, even though it can offer them a lot of home at a good price.

Its location -- surrounded by Perry Hall to the north, White Marsh to the east, Overlea to the south and Parkville to the west -- is both a blessing and a curse. Although maps clearly identify the area in the middle of this territory as Fullerton, residents often prefer using one of the names of the neighboring communities because those areas have reputations for higher property values, according to residents and real estate agents.

Its location also gives residents, many of whom have lived in the community for more than 30 or 40 years, easy access to stores, malls, the bus line, and highways leading in all directions.

When Fullerton was developed in the early 1900s, it was considered a suburb, an area more than three miles outside the city line. At that time, two- and three-bedroom homes on open, flat streets began popping up in response to the decision of Union Railway, the streetcar company that serviced Baltimore, to extend its line north on Belair Road to Overlea.

That decision, in 1904, suddenly created great interest in the eastern portion of the county, and it began to grow.

By the 1940s, when most of Fullerton's houses were built, the area served a growing melting pot of people, including large groups of Poles, Ukrainians and Italians. In those days, Fullerton was best known for its new school, which served children from Overlea, Parkville, Fullerton and Perry Hall.

But now Fullerton has developed a strong reputation for affordable housing for those who want to be close to their jobs in the city, prefer living in the county but cannot afford to live in Perry Hall, White Marsh, Towson or Parkville, according to residents and real estate agents.

Easy access to Interstates 695 and 95, by Route 43 or Belair Road, continues to make Fullerton a popular choice.

"People who live in Fullerton find that they can get a little more house for the money than they might if they headed farther north or west," said Tony Magliaccio, an agent with Long & Foster's Perry Hall office. "They can get single-family value for the price of a townhouse."

Several real estate agents said they often show houses in Fullerton to people who want to live in Perry Hall or White Marsh but cannot afford to do so.

"It's county living, but you aren't paying all you pay to be a mile or two farther out," Magliaccio added.

Some rowhouses can go for prices in the $70,000s to $80,000s, while larger, single-family houses, also brick, begin selling in the high $80,000s to low $100,000s.

People who buy in Fullerton have to be willing to accept a house that may not have every single one of the modern conveniences.

Air conditioning is a luxury for which most of its original residents never found a need. Most residents continue to use box and window fans or have installed ceiling fans in recent years.

Yet, homebuyers will find lots of brick, a clear indication of the era when the houses were built. Vinyl siding, frequently used on new housing, is foreign to Fullerton.

It's difficult to travel around Fullerton for long without seeing people coming together to talk. Popular places to gather include the Fullerton bingo parlor, the Bromwell Inn and the International House of Pancakes, all on Belair Road.

Fullerton also is an area where new development is unlikely. Although some townhouses have been built in Crestview, a subdivision off Rossville Boulevard, most of Fullerton's land in subdivisions such as Linhigh, Fullerton Heights and Rolling View is spoken for.

At the center of Fullerton are Fullerton Elementary School and Fullerton Park, where a lighted field accommodates sports contests almost all year long.

It's also where residents can walk their pets or get a breath of fresh air.

To the east along Lillian Holt Drive is a largely undeveloped area with a large cemetery, Gardens of Faith, and Linover Park.

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