NAME A NEIGHBORHOOD in Greater Severna Park, and its residents will find something to brag about, whether it's water access, architectural style or proximity to shopping and schools.
But one neighborhood, developed after World War II and considered one of Severna Park's most desirable locations, has a peculiar feature that could stop a modern developer in his tracks. The community of Linstead on the Severn, located on a former estate and farm of more than 100 acres, comes complete with a burial ground.
The tiny cemetery where members of the Linstead family are buried is located in the front yard of a house on Boone Trail. Some of the headstones date to the early 19th century.
Considering the changes since then, the forefathers buried there would hardly recognize the place. What was all woods and farmland is now home to nearly 170 families. A neighborhood once characterized by modest cottages and Cape Cods now has homes worth more than $2 million.
A peninsula surrounded by Sullivan Cove, Yantz Cove and the Severn River, and boasting a magnificent view all the way to the U.S. 50 bridge, Linstead begins near the end of Riggs Road. Streets with names like Evergreen Trail, Cedar Point Road and Boone Trail reflect the more than 300-year history of the land.
The history is retold in the Linstead community directory: In 1680, Christopher Randall, a familiar name used for streets and homes in Annapolis, received a grant of 102 acres that he named Randall's Purchase or Randall's Range. In 1806, the land was sold and renamed Cedar Neck.
A decade later, John Linstid (some records say Linsted) bought the property. His granddaughter, Elizabeth, married Thomas Boone, ergo Boone Trail.
The accepted spelling of Linstead seems to have been the result of a generous act by twin brothers, Francis and Harry Riggs, who purchased the land in the early 20th century. The men invited the Boy Scouts of Baltimore to use approximately 30 acres as a summer camp. The Scouts christened their camp "Camp Linstead," which it remained for more than 20 years.
Today, Linstead is prime Severna Park waterfront property. A real estate agent hardly has time to drive a "For Sale" sign into the ground before a "Sold" label is attached. One can only imagine what the original World War II-era prices were, but today's Linstead house on the water has been known to fetch as much as $2 million. The community's waterfront and its proximity to schools and shopping are the initial attraction, but it's a strong sense of neighborhood that inspires residents to stay.
"You feel very much a part of things here," says Sue Norris, who moved to Linstead with her late husband, John, 34 years ago.
"When kids grow up, they want to come back and live here," says Norris. "In fact, there are several generations living in different homes in the community now."
Marion Stevens and her husband, Jack, have lived in Linstead for more than 40 years. While property values have increased over the years, she feels that the personality of the community is very much the same.
"The community has its own beach, and we have so many activities at the beach cabana, like crab feasts, oyster roasts and potluck dinners," Stevens says.
Relative newcomers, retirees Don and Joan Duffy, moved to Linstead four years ago.
"We moved here from Seattle," says Don Duffy. "We loved Seattle, but we prefer the sun in our dotage.
"It's hard to define it," he says, when considering what he likes best about Linstead. "But it comes down to the people. There's a bunch of people like us, but also a sizable group that are mid-career people raising their kids. And these are wonderful kids to be around."
He also says that a growing number of young couples just starting a family have settled in Linstead. It's an eclectic group, he says.
"This would be great if it were Iowa," Duffy concludes, "but add to it that everyone has access to the water, that it's so near Washington, Baltimore and that little city up the river, and that makes this a dynamite place."
The Linstead community calendar is filled with year-round activities. A favorite late-January event, one that everyone looks forward to, says Marion Stevens, is the annual Christmas tree burning.
With permission from the fire department, an afternoon is set aside so families can bring their trees to the beach, where they share the warmth of a communal bonfire and a hot cup of cider.