A European air of old and young Changes: Residents of suburban-like Tuscany-Canterbury value the evolving area's tucked-away quality.

Neighborhood Profile: Tuscany-Canterbury

June 21, 1998|By David Novich | David Novich,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

At the corner of Tuscany and Canterbury roads -- among the high-rise apartments and redbrick townhouses -- stands an Elizabethan half-timber and a modern Tudor-influenced structure. What they represent is an anomaly in this changing city community.

Go to the former on a weekend night, and you'll see Johns Hopkins University students dimming the party lights of the three-story fraternity house at 3906 Canterbury, with the sounds of alternative bands permeating the streets.

Go to the latter on a weekday afternoon, and you'll experience a two-block line of double-parked station wagons and minivans lined up in front of the Calvert School on Tuscany, with anxious mothers honking and children playing on the curb.

With the purchase of two of what were three fraternity houses by a young couple and the Calvert School in the past five years, and an ever-increasing population of children, community leaders are hoping that Tuscany-Canterbury has found its family-oriented niche.

"There is only one fraternity house left in the area," said A. J. O'Brien, president of the Tuscany-Canterbury Neighborhood Association.

"[And] over the past four years, we've seen more young children," O'Brien said. "We are becoming more of a family area."

This small, suburban-like community, just north of Johns Hopkins University and west of Guilford, definitely has the feel of an insulated neighborhood. Located within a semicircle of high-rise apartments, the three-story redbrick rowhouses line the 3900 blocks of Canterbury and Cloverhill, making up the Canterbury area to the east.

Villa-like apartment buildings and townhouses on Tuscany and Stoney Hill roads make up much of the Tuscany area to the west.

Most of the rowhouses, which have three to six bedrooms, sell for between $150,000 and $225,000, according to Arthur Davis, president of Chase Fitzgerald & Co.

The living rooms often have oak floors trimmed with cherry wood, and Tudor-style recessed alcoves with benches on both sides. About half of the houses have been renovated with central air conditioning, new kitchens and bathrooms, Davis added.

The homes also seem well-suited for children, with extra rooms that can be used by parents for either study or play rooms, and basements that are easily convertible to club rooms.

Residents enjoy being able to walk to Stoney Run Park and the Calvert School on the generally low-traffic streets.

Making the area one big family, though, will take time.

Eileen Higham, a Tuscany rowhouse resident for 25 years, has begun writing a history of the neighborhood. She says the area hasn't changed much since she and her husband, a former history professor at Hopkins, first moved in.

There have been a number of outdoor decks built onto the backs of homes, as residents couldn't resist the 1980s signature add-on style. The community's identity was formed in the 1920s, she said, when the Calvert School Principal Virgil Hillyer pushed to change the name of 40th Street to Tuscany Road, as a reminder of his travels to Europe.

Canterbury received its name soon thereafter in recognition of the English style of architecture upon which some of the Tudors in the area were based. But the prestige of the new names didn't catch on.

"This is a very small area, and for years was considered the poor relation of Guilford," Higham said. "But I've consulted with both neighborhood associations, and we are neither part of Guilford nor of Roland Park."

It is this hidden nature, though, even with the location's accessibility to the Rotunda shopping center and the Baltimore Museum of Art, that the community treasures.

"The strength of the neighborhood is that it is a very protected little pocket," says Davis, "and there are no major problems facing it."

Yet what concerns residents most is trying to preserve the community as an oasis. Residents are trying to stop the city from installing industrial-looking street lamps, and at a June 10

meeting a city representative said the city will try to phase in residential-style street lamps over the next two years. They also recently pushed Hopkins to complete the construction and clean up the appearance of the Homewood Field bleachers on University Parkway.

"The big issue now is we're trying to preserve the ambience of the community," O'Brien said.

Parking is also a problem, as the narrow streets and the increase in the number of Hopkins students with cars have resulted in fewer available spots. The Calvert School demolished the fraternity house they acquired five years ago to build a faculty parking lot.

But even with all the attempts to protect the family cove, the area's large homes and proximity to downtown continue to make it attractive to all types of new buyers.

"The community accommodates a wide variety of living styles," said Mac Passano, 55, who has lived in Tuscany since birth. "Houses that go on the market here tend to go pretty quickly."

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