Little-known, close-in charmer

Neighborhood Profile: Cheswolde

Many have long known you can go home again in friendly Cheswolde

April 04, 1999|By Nancy Jones-Bonbrest | Nancy Jones-Bonbrest,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Not only does Cheswolde have the convenience of city life mixed in with the charm of the country, but it also has the blessing of anonymity. Although it's not as well-known as its larger neighbors of Mount Washington and Fallstaff, Cheswolde still packs the charm.

"It's a hamlet for Baltimore City. Growing up there and now living there again, the neighborhood is so different in regard to the houses," said Carl S. Hyman, president of the Cheswolde Community Association.

"You can have a Colonial and next to that is a Frank Lloyd Wright-esque house. The architecture is really funky. You really can't find houses in the city on quarter-acre lots or bigger, and these are affordable," Hyman added.

Cheswolde lies within borders that include the city line to the north, Clarks Lane to the west, Western Run Stream to the south and Bonnie View Drive to the east.

Within the borders are just about every kind of home one can imagine. While the majority may be single-family ranchers, they are mixed in with Colonials, condominiums, garden apartments, high-rise apartments, townhouses, one-of-a-kind modern homes and upscale, built-to-suit homes.

"It's hard to believe it's in the city," said Joe Bondar, the owner of Bondar Realty and a 18-year-resident of Cheswolde.

"It's an aesthetically pleasing area with maturing trees, and some homes have very large lots," Bondar said. "It's a forgotten area. A lot of people don't know we exist.

"We're not the county and we're not Mount Washington. It's more affordable than Mount Washington and it's in the same ZIP code. The demand for houses here definitely exceeds the supply.

"If you price the house right, it will sell in days."

Some Cheswolde residents have found notes in their mailboxes asking if they were interested in selling their house.

Cheswolde is home to several synagogues, and the area has seen an influx of the Orthodox Jewish community during the past decade.

"There has been a growth in the number of synagogues and a growth in the number of seats in the synagogues. Because they are within walking distance, there has been an increase in Orthodox Jews into the neighborhood," said Hyman, who grew up in Cheswolde and moved back after he married.

"But I want to emphasize that the neighborhood is diverse and the diversity is welcome," he added. "People don't move into this neighborhood to gain status. The beauty is the convenience and the friendliness. People are very eager to be good neighbors."

"The neighborhood is a melting pot," Bondar said.

While the majority of homes were built during the 1950s and 1960s, the history of Cheswolde dates to the 18th century when most of the land north of Western Run in the vicinity of Greenspring Avenue and Pimlico Road was owned by Charles Carroll of Carrollton. The house at the corner of Greenspring Avenue and Cross Country Boulevard was used as Charles Carroll's hunting lodge. At this location, a grist mill operated for the first half of the 19th century. Then around midcentury it was converted to a snuff mill and used until it was damaged by flood in 1868.

In 1915, acreage called Cheswolde Farms was laid out and subdivided. Although annexed to Baltimore City in 1918, the Cheswolde area had experienced little development by 1940. The majority of the land that remains undeveloped today lies within the Western Run flood plain area.

"I've watched my neighborhood grow from dirt roads and forest," Hyman said. "You have these mature trees that are part of the aging process. It gets prettier each year."

"When people think of the city, they don't think of my neighborhood. They don't know about my neighborhood. Our neighborhood is a very desirable place to live."

While the majority of residents in Cheswolde send their children to area private schools, the community is very proud of its recently renovated elementary school, Cross Country, Hyman said.

Yaakov and Devorah Goldstein recently moved to the neighborhood from Israel with their five children. After living in a rented house in a nearby neighborhood for a few months, they chose Cheswolde as home for several reasons.

"We really liked a lot about Cheswolde; the houses were large and we got a lot for our money," said Devorah Goldstein. "It was a very safe neighborhood with a lot of kids around. It seemed like a younger community. We don't have to worry so much about traffic, even foot traffic. We know that the people walking around live in the neighborhood."

Although there are no businesses in Cheswolde, residents are just five minutes from Greenspring Shopping Center and the shops at Mount Washington.

"We have all the benefits of being in the city; it's centrally located, being just 15 minutes from Towson, 15 minutes from downtown and 15 minutes to Owings Mills," Hyman said.

"Stability is something that is so unique to this neighborhood. There are many families that have lived here since I was a kid. That says a lot about the neighborhood."

Cheswolde

ZIP code: 21209

Commuting time to downtown Baltimore: 15 minutes

Public schools: Cross Country Elementary School, Mount Washington Elementary School, Fallstaff Middle, Northwestern High School

Shopping: Mount Washington; Greenspring Station

Homes on market: 4

Average listing price: $121,357*

Average sales price: $115,215*

Average days on market: 131*

Sales price as a percentage of listing: 95%*

* Based on 23 sales in the past 12 months as recorded by the Metropolitan Regional Information System.

Pub Date: 04/04/99

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