There used to be a ballgame right here Ednor Gardens-Lakeside looks ahead

Neighborhood Profile: Ednor Gardens-Lakeside

June 28, 1998|By Charles Belfoure | Charles Belfoure,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Hundreds of thousands of Baltimoreans know Ednor Gardens-Lakeside by sight if not by name.

For more than 40 years, people who have attended countless baseball and football games at Memorial Stadium have at one time or another noticed the row of white stuccoed English-style houses beyond the center field fence. Many would recall that they envied the people who lived on East 36th Street because they could watch an Orioles or Colts game from the confines of their homes.

"You really can't see into the stadium like the buildings around Wrigley Field in Chicago," said David Bernell, who has lived on 36th Street for eight years. "But I was always able to sneak into the Orioles games after the fourth inning."

Ednor Gardens-Lakeside, which extends from 33rd Street to Argonne Drive and Ellerslie Avenue to Hillen Road, has always been known as the community with a stadium in its front yard. Now with the construction of Oriole Park at Camden Yards and the Ravens stadium downtown, it will soon be without a stadium for the first time in its history.

Some people would think that the neighborhood would be glad to see it go, but they would be mistaken.

"I loved the Colts and Orioles being here," said Anna May Becker, who for 24 years has lived on Rexmere Avenue only two blocks from the stadium.

"Most people liked the excitement, but of course you wouldn't plan a party on game day," she laughed. "No matter what you were doing, you always half-listened to the game; you couldn't help it," Becker said.

The neighborhood is almost all owner-occupied, and its residents have a great attachment to it. "I was all set to move to Anne Arundel County, but I just couldn't do it," Becker said.

She's typical of the residents who describe the community as extremely friendly and centrally located. One of its most outstanding characteristics is the lush, well-tended landscaping in front of every house.

"Everyone's a gardener around here," Becker said. A garden walk is held every year. For Jim Gashel, who lives in Lakeside and is president of the community association, it was the idea of having a yard on all four sides. "It's like living in a suburb in an urban area."

2 neighborhoods

Ednor Gardens-Lakeside is actually two physically distinct neighborhoods, one made up of rowhouses to the north of the stadium, the other of mostly detached houses to the east. It is the work of two of Baltimore's premier rowhouse developers, Edward J. Gallagher and Frank Novak.

For both men, these developments were a great departure from anything they had done before.

Gallagher purchased the land in 1923, which was part of the Garrett estate named Montebello, from Mrs. Henry Barton Jacobs, widow of Robert Garrett. Gallagher had built hundreds of brick-and-marble rowhouses for the working class, especially in East Baltimore. He then wanted to create a rowhouse community of a special design, and for its name took the first two letters of the names of his sons, Edward and Norman.

In the early 1920s, many expensive upper-middle-class row-houses, especially around Roland Park and Guilford, were done in the English style. Gallagher took this style and adapted it for a middle-class budget. The first houses sold for $7,000 to $9,000. He knew the automobile was becoming a household necessity, so he built garages into the walk-out basements of his rows, one of the first developers to do so.

Frank Novak, Baltimore's biggest rowhouse builder, turned for the first time to building single-family detached cottages in the 1920s. He, too, bought land from Jacobs and called the development Lakeside for its proximity to Lake Montebello to the east. The styles range from bungalows to redbrick Colonials.

Confrontation

In an odd confrontation in 1933, Novak sued Gallagher to prevent him from building rowhouses on East 36th Street, east of Ednor Road.

The area was zoned only for detached houses, but Gallagher got the zoning ordinance changed to allow rowhouses. Novak, the builder of 7,000 rowhouses at that time, charged that Gallagher's rows devalued his single-family houses. He prevailed and Gallagher could build only single-family houses on that section of East 36th Street. Ironically, Novak went back to building regular rowhouses when he realized that they were more profitable than detached houses.

Ednor Gardens' design is what sets it apart from other rowhouse neighborhoods, according to Rob Preston, a Realtor with Long & Foster Real Estate Inc. "The quality of construction is excellent, with plaster walls, hardwood floors, slate roofs, and with stucco and stone facing," Preston said.

The stone on the houses in the 3600 blocks of Ednor Gardens came from the extensive blasting that had to be done to prepare the site. The first blocks were advertised as the "English cottage in the city." Building halted during the Great Depression, but when it resumed in the late 1930s, the style switched to an all-brick "Williamsburg" design without garages.

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