Welcome mat is out in Glenham-Belford


`Something for everyone' in diverse, quirky area, one resident explains

July 14, 2002|By Lisa Wiseman | Lisa Wiseman,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

No matter who you are or what you're looking for in a home, Glenham-Belford will have what you need, residents say.

"There's something for everyone," said Dick Ullrich, 62. "The diversity and mixed stock of housing makes the area truly unique. There are large, individual homes, smaller single homes, duplexes and apartments."

"Each home has character. They're all different," said Cecilia Freed, 48. She and her husband, Brian, and their two children have lived in the area for 16 years. "We like our area, specifically because there is a lot of forestry. With all of the surrounding trees, you would never know you were in the city," she said.

Glenham-Belford is in Northeast Baltimore between the neighborhoods of Hamilton and Burdick Park and is not far from the city-county line.

The area of 2,900 homes takes its name from the four streets that make up its boundaries - Glenmore Avenue to the north, Hamilton Avenue to the south, Belair Road to the east and Harford Road to the west. Homes range in age from more than 100 years to ones built in the early 1990s when odd, leftover lots were purchased and houses constructed.

"The variety here makes it an ideal place whether you're a renter looking for a house or apartment, a large family needing a big home with many bedrooms or just two folks like us, who need space to entertain," Freed said.

Ullrich and his partner, Mel Cantrell, have lived in the neighborhood for 10 years. During that time they have never had a problem with any neighbors nor have they ever felt unwelcome. From the very beginning, the couple found Glenham-Belford to be "very accepting," he said. "We did not know anyone before we moved in, but there was the perception that the neighborhood was very friendly."

"It's a very integrated neighborhood," Ullrich said. "People are willing to share and talk with each other and address issues together. ... People have not hesitated to work together."

Cathy Brennan agreed.

She and her partner have lived in the neighborhood for three years and have found it to be a very accepting neighborhood for gays. Of course, it's a great place for anyone, Brennan said. "We have friends looking for homes in neighborhoods that are relatively diverse and we tell them to come here," she said.

Brennan loves the quirky charm of her street, where no two houses are exactly alike. "You'll see a large Victorian home next to a newer brick house next to a little bungalow or Cape Cod."

Brennan, a code enforcement attorney for the Department of Housing, wishes more people knew about her neighborhood and others in the city where there are plenty of quality homes at affordable prices.

Brennan spent less than $80,000 for her single-family home, which was in move-in condition and sits on more than one-fourth acre.

"Everybody knows about Canton, Roland Park and Homeland," she said. "There are other great city neighborhoods out there that are not getting enough attention."

Glenham-Belford would be ideal for young professionals priced out of a "hot" neighborhood like Canton or Federal Hill or a couple looking for a first home, she said. "It's a solid, stabile, middle-class neighborhood."

Kathy Horner, president of the Glenham-Belford community association for the past two years, has lived in the neighborhood for virtually all of her life, first with her parents, and now in her own home. Well, she does admit there was that year spent in Perry Hall more than a decade ago. "I hated it," she said. "Everybody left for work at the same time, came home at the same time, walked their dogs at the same time. It was boring."

After that, Horner came back to Glenham-Belford and does not plan to leave anytime soon. Many other residents of the area also have lived in Glenham-Belford nearly all of their lives, she said.

Even when older residents decide to sell their homes, they still seek to stay in the neighborhood. Some seniors move to Everall Gardens, a Glenham-Belford housing complex run by Catholic Charities.

"Our population varies. We still have many older residents along with young families, single mothers who have moved here to escape problems of other parts of the city and people in their 20s and 30s," Horner said.

The community association meets every other month, and Horner has her core group of faithful folks such as Cecilia and Brian Freed, who attend nearly every meeting. Other folks "only show up when there's a problem," Horner said.

The community works hard to address any concern before it gets out of hand, Horner said. She's proud that Glenham-Belford was one of the first neighborhoods in Northeast Baltimore to form a community watch program. "We look out for each other here," she said.

Each year the association holds events such as holiday parties and picnics, and Horner tries to bring in guest speakers for most meetings. In the past, she's had principals and administrators from area public schools, police officers from the Northeast District and people from area businesses such as Leaf Nursery in Hamilton.

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