500 acres of trees and large homes Once a big farm, Mount Hebron has grown up naturally

Neighborhood Profile: Mount Hebron

January 18, 1998|By Dawn Fallik | Dawn Fallik,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

H. J. Baker doesn't miss doing the early morning chores on the farm where he and his eight brothers and sister were raised.

Once a thriving plantation that sold wheat and grain to Baltimore, the 500-acre parcel known as Mount Hebron now is home to families looking for a fast commute and a slow-paced neighborhood.

Mount Hebron residents say they appreciate the accent on nature in their community, bordered by U.S. 29 on one side and Patapsco Valley State Park on the other. With approximately 500 single-family homes, the homesites are large and the trees are many.

"I think that's the way it should be, natural," said Baker, who still lives on the land, as does his son.

But residents say that although their community is a bit tucked away from nearby Columbia's limelight, that they don't feel out of touch. It takes less than a half hour to get to Baltimore, the Mall in Columbia is less than a 10-minute drive and the shopping centers and stores on U.S. 40are equally accessible.

"It's very quiet here but very friendly, with people always out walking and jogging," said Claudia Zohorsky, who moved to Mount Hebron from Columbia a little more than three years ago.

She said that with nine children, ages 3 months to 16, her family needed a place with a little more room to grow. The family moved into a five-bedroom, 5 1/2 -bath, Victorian-style house that has plenty of space to run around.

Zohorsky has had children at all of the area's schools, including a son at the new Hollifield Elementary School, which opened in September. Her older children attend Patapsco Middle School, the recent recipient of the state Blue Ribbon Award of Excellence, and River Hill High School through a magnet program.

Scott Miller, a local Realtor, described the area as a family-oriented residential place where people can easily settle.

"Most of the people come here and never leave," he said. "We'll get people who just move from one side of the neighborhood to the other."

Zohorsky said the downside to that stability is that the number of younger children is not as large as in other areas.

"It's kind of a settled neighborhood," she said.

Part of that settled feeling may be because of Mount Hebron's historical background, which is much in evidence in the community.

The 800-acre parcel was originally Anne Arundel property but was purchased by John Worthington Dorsey for his son, Annapolis Judge Thomas Beale Dorsey.

Howard District

The younger Dorsey, born in 1780, attended St. John's College in Annapolis, was a member of the Maryland House of Delegates and became Maryland's attorney general in 1822. He was the first to petition the state to allow the Howard District to become a county in its own right.

The judge built the 17-room main house in 1808 along with several barns and slave quarters atop a hill overlooking the land.

He also built two large houses, one for each of his daughters, one of which burned down several years ago. The judge turned the land into a working plantation called Mount Hebron and named the main residence "Hebron House."

The land was passed down through the Dorsey family until 1920, HTC when the Baker family decided to make a move from Tennessee and purchased the land.

Selling off pieces

"My father realized that everything he bought and everything he sold either came from or went to Alabama or Baltimore. So he went to Alabama but wasn't too happy with what he saw," Baker said.

Baker and two of his brothers bought out their father in 1949 and began selling off pieces of land in 1958 while continuing to run the farm.

After selling off several acres to other builders, Baker began his own company -- Baker Homes -- and decided to start building his own houses for families who wanted to live in a quiet place that was close to Baltimore and Washington.

The neighborhoods contain a mix of smaller Colonial houses and larger, more modern styles. New-home construction continues, with the last parcel now being graded, Baker said.

Miller said there is room for about 60 more houses before the land that once held one family is built out.

Baker built a separate house on the land, and his son now lives in the two-bedroom house that used to be the slave quarters.

The Presbyterian Church now holds services and weddings in Hebron House, where Baker grew up.

Although grain and hay no longer cover the land, Baker tends to his garden and doesn't look back on the past.

"I hated to see it go, but business is business," he said.

Mount Hebron

Population: 1,200 (1990 Census)

Commuting time to downtown Baltimore: 25 minutes

Public schools -- Hollifield Elementary School, Patapsco Middle School, Mount Hebron High School.

Zip Code: 21042

Average price of single family home: $251,437*

* Based on nine sales during the last six months by the Metropolitan Regional Information System

Pub Date: 1/18/98

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