To understand Pikesville, all one has to is take a drive down Reisterstown Road. It doesn't take long to see there are many vibrant communities thriving within the area, each with its own look and feel.
There is older Pikesville -- closer to the city line -- where home prices can be in the $70,000 range. Then there is Stevenson or Dumbarton where prices can climb upward to $1 million.
Colonial Village, situated near the city/county line and built in the 1940s, offers Colonials, cape cods and ranchers from $70,000 to $120,000.
At the opposite end of Pikesville, just outside Beltway Exit 20 -- new developments such as Cobblestone feature empty-nester homes that sell from $275,000 to $400,000.
"The different prices of homes helps bring people from all walks of life to Pikesville. There is truly something for everyone," said Donna McKay, owner of Century 21 Realty Elite in Pikesville.
As a market area, Pikesville is bouncing back after falling on hard economic times in the early 1990s. As one of the neighborhoods targeted for revitalization by Baltimore County, Pikesville has seen millions of dollars spent on repairing sidewalks, replacing benches and adding street lights to improve the appearance of Reisterstown Road.
"Pikesville used to be known for its dress and jewelry shops; then it seemed to die out in the late 1980s after Owings Mills Mall took off," said Nancy Garfinkel, executive director of the Pikesville Chamber of Commerce.
As the county made improvements to update Pikesville's aesthetics, upscale strip centers such as Club Centre and the Festival at Woodholme were built to help revitalize the shopping district.
Meanwhile, other longtime businesses -- such as the Sol Levinson funeral home -- moved up Reisterstown Road to new Pikesville locations outside the Beltway.
Along with the businesses, other mainstays of Pikesville are two country clubs, a Maryland National Guard Armory and the 100-year-old Druid Ridge Cemetery.
The Maryland State Police headquarters is in Pikesville, and since 1985 its crime lab has been at at Sudbrook Lane and Reisterstown Road. However, the state police are looking for a new location in the area to build a 54,000-square-foot lab.
The Baltimore County Fire Department has grown with Pikesville as well; it recently moved into a new fire station to replace one that had been used since the 1920s.
Stable community life
Larry Stahl and his family have seen the highs and lows of Pikesville. The 49-year-old attorney, who has lived in Sudbrook Park since 1974, said that while business has been up and down, community life has remained stable.
"The Jewish community is still a tight group in Pikesville, which is one of the reasons we have stayed so long," said Stahl, who with his wife Lynda, have four children ages 10 to 21.
Stahl said the schools in Pikesville are highly regarded, and that's one of the reason his family has stayed in the area.
Decided to stay
"We could have moved 10 years ago when my youngest son, David, was born, but instead [we] chose to add an addition to our home," Stahl said.
"When David leaves Milbrook Elementary School in June it will end a streak of 17 years of Stahl children at that school."
Three of Stahl's children have moved on to Pikesville High School. Two of them are in the school's concert choir.
Richard Disharoon, who leads the choir, has taught music at Pikesville High for 35 years. In that time, he has seen numerous brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers walk through his door.
"Many people who grow up in Pikesville enjoy moving back into the community in order to give back to it," Disharoon said.
However, Disharoon said there has been a shift in population at Pikesville.
"While the Jewish population is still dominant, it is not as large as it once was," Disharoon said. "There have also been a lot of Eastern European immigrants in the last decade."
The immigrants, mostly in south Pikesville, have added to the economic growth of the community. Garfinkel said most buy homes within two years of entering the United States.
In fact, more than a third of Pikesville's residents are not Jewish. Pikesville's roots can be traced to Catholic and Protestant congregations as far back as 1700.
Pikesville's name comes from Gen. Zebulon Pike, a hero of the War of 1812, for whom Pikes Peak in Colorado is named.
The first major Jewish house of worship was built in 1951, when Baltimore Hebrew Congregation was erected at Slade and Park Heights avenues in 1951.
One church that saw the Jewish migration into Pikesville is St. Charles Borromeo Roman Catholic Church on Church Lane, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. While the parish has dwindled from 1,200 to 800 members and had to close its parish school in 1989, members feel that their faith will keep the church open for many years to come.
"Any church which has faith and worshipers will be able to stay around," Sister Marylita Friia said.
"We feel the Jewish community can only enrich us, because we can learn from each other's religions."
ZIP codes: 21208, 21209
Commuting time to downtown Baltimore: 20 minutes
Public schools: Wellwood, Summit Park, Milbrook, and Fort Garrison elementaries; Pikesville Middle; Pikesville High
Shopping: Pikesville Shopping Center, Festival at Woodholme, Club Center, Colonial Village Shopping Center and Owings Mills Town Center
Homes on the market: 70
Average listing price: $171,253*
Average sales price: $163,055*
Average days on the market: 140*
Sales price as a percentage of listing: 96%*
*Based on 151 sales in the past 12 months as recorded by the Metropolitan Regional Information System
Pub Date: 05/02/99