Even the newcomers are nice folks


`Everyone who drives by waves'

April 22, 2001|By Nancy Jones-Bonbrest | Nancy Jones-Bonbrest,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

When Marie Fern moved to Freeland in 1967, her closest neighbor lived a half-mile away.

More than 30 years have passed, but the things that made Fern fall in love with Freeland have remained pretty much the same.

"It's just so pretty up here; it's really nice when you're standing in your front yard and everyone who drives by waves," said Fern. "When I go to the bank, they know me by Marie Fern, not my bank account number, and that's the most pleasant thing."

Over the years, many of the original Freeland farms have been sold and subdivided, but much of the rural atmosphere and closeness of the community is still intact.

"I did get concerned when they sold the land across the street as 1-acre lots. I was upset," said Fern, who gave two of her original 6 acres to two daughters for them to build homes of their own.

"But then the people started moving in, and we now have the greatest neighbors," Fern added. "It's nice to see them all getting so involved in school and the community."

Situated just west of Parkton and south of Maryland Line, Freeland offers many home hunters an escape to the country without being too far away from the benefits of nearby suburban areas such as Hunt Valley, Towson and Shrewsbury, Pa.

"Freeland is not as far away as it used to be," said Molly Pew, an agent with the Hunt Valley office of O'Conor, Piper & Flynn ERA. "When I first started in this business, no one had even heard of Freeland. Now there's no real resistance to going up that far. The access to [Interstate] 83 is very important because it makes it easy to get anywhere."

Freeland offers a variety of housing styles, everything from newly built Colonials to ranchers, split-levels, contemporaries, old farmhouses and smaller farmettes.

Right now a buyer can select a small cottage on a half-acre for $139,900 or a 7,000-square-foot brick Colonial on 40 acres for $1.69 million.

Especially in demand are the newer Colonials with four bedrooms, two baths and two-car garage that run from the high-$200,000s to low-$300,000s range, Pew said.

Families with young children or teen-agers are the typical buyers, many moving to the area for the school district.

The country life with a neighborhood setting is what attracted John Stahl and Cailin Quinn to Freeland five years ago.

"We wanted to live in Baltimore County and we were looking to build a house. We found land in Freeland that was affordable but also had the neighborhood setting we were looking for," Stahl said. "A lot of people say it's too far out, but we both work in the city and have gotten very used to the commute. In fact, I decompress when I leave work and make the drive back."

During the summer, the neighborhood becomes quite a social setting, said Stahl. "We're a tight bunch. It's common for all the kids to just go out and play. It's just a safe feeling. I feel fortunate."

Mike Fabula, whose family moved to Freeland 30 years ago, said he also enjoys the bond with neighbors.

"I know all of my neighbors around me, and we all help each other out. I think that's a very pleasant thing when you know your neighbors," said Fabula, who heads the Freeland Community Association. "It has been my experience that most people up here know one another and get along with each other."

The main issue facing the Freeland Community Association, like many other rural communities, is development. Although a handful of housing developments are planned for Freeland and the surrounding area, Fabula said, a group has been formed to explore the different land-preservation options available so property owners can preserve acreage rather than sell for development.

Freeland has a strong history and was once a stop on the Northern Central Railroad. By the mid-1800s, there were at least eight paper mills, six sawmills and six gristmills. The mill heritage is still evident from road names such as Gores Mill, Valley Mill, Clipper Mill, Keeney Mill and Millers Mill.

The area was named for Stephen Freeland, who owned land in the area around 1850. The Freeland post office first opened in 1851 along the railroad tracks on Freeland Road, where it remained until moving to Sunset View in 1955. In 1984, it moved to its current location on New Freedom Road.

While the original Freeland area had a post office, general store, hotel and Red Men's Hall - all since converted into residences - today's Freeland offers two country stores, two taverns, a liquor store, a beauty salon, an auto mechanics shop and a veterinary hospital.

Many of Freeland's attractions are oriented toward nature and the outdoors. Freeland is home to Morris Meadows, a recreation facility with a museum, a driving range, a swimming pool and camping. The Morris family goes back seven generations, with a land deed written on goatskin and dating to 1793.

Freeland also has its own entrance to the Northern Central Railroad Trail and offers quick access to Prettyboy Reservoir and Gunpowder Falls State Park.

Michael Worrell wasn't sure what to do with two acres of lawn when he moved to Freeland in 1993. But he has since started a beekeeping business that includes making beeswax soaps and hand creams.

"Most people have never even heard of Freeland," said Worrell, who added that rural life has its benefits. "With my beekeeping, no one complains like they might do in a more residential-type area."


ZIP code: 21053

Commute to Baltimore: 45 minutes

Public schools: Prettyboy Elementary, Hereford Middle, Hereford High

Shopping: Hereford Shopping Center, Hereford Plaza, Hunt Valley Mall, Shawan Plaza, shopping in Shrewsbury, Pa.

Homes currently on market: 10

Average listing price: $241,900 *

Average sale price: $234,007 *

Average days on market: 76 *

Sale price as percentage of listing price: 96.74% * * Based on 10 sales in the past 12 months as compiled by Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc.

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