Cedmont `is its own little place'

NEIGHBORHOOD PROFILE

`When you smile at people, they smile back at you'

January 12, 2003|By Lisa Wiseman | Lisa Wiseman,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

If you want to live in "no man's land," move to Cedmont.

That's how Maureen Schroeder describes the neighborhood in which she and her husband, Ray, have lived for 20 years.

"It's not the city and it's not county," she said. "It is its own little place."

The small neighborhood of 900 homes in Northeast Baltimore was formally established as a community in 1973 and takes its name from Parkmont and Cedonia avenues, which cut through the neighborhood. The community's borders are the city-county line, White Avenue and the east side of Belair Road.

Because of the proximity to more well-known city and county communities, real estate agents have sometimes mistakenly listed homes in Cedmont as being in most every place from Hamilton to Belmar to Frankford to Gardenville to Cedonia to Overlea to Rosedale to Kenwood. One listing even stated "near White Marsh and Perry Hall." To make matters even more interesting - and confusing - the neighborhood sits within the 21206 ZIP code, which also is a Baltimore County ZIP code for the Overlea area.

The neighborhood, of course, has its own identity, said Linda Grucz, vice president of the Cedmont Community Association. Nearly one-fourth of its residents have formally joined the neighborhood association.

"We almost always have 45 to 60 people every month at our meetings. ... They're not there to complain about what's wrong. People here are basically interested in their community and are involved," Grucz said.

Grucz grew up in the area, and she and her husband, Kent, live in the house that her great-grandfather built in 1921 when much of the area was open space.

The majority of the land that Cedmont occupies was owned by the Powell family, and for a while the area was known as Powellnaron. In 1908, the Powells founded a community church in their barn. When they died, the Powells left their money to the community to build a church with one request. On the top of the church tower, an illuminated sign said, "God is Love. Welcome."

Annie Powell "wanted people to be able to see it from Belair Road," Linda Grucz said. "That way, if someone was lost, then they could look at the sign and find their way."

The "Welcome" portion of the sign was destroyed by pigeons, Linda Grucz said, but "God is Love" can still be seen from Belair Road - its bright red letters light up the sky every evening.

The tower was struck by lightning in 1958, again in the late 1980s and a third time in June but the lights never went dark, neighbors said.

Bruce Campbell has been researching the area's history for several years.

He has collected such items as photos of the quarry where the Bi-Rite supermarket stands and information on the original firehouse that served the area.

"The barn where the horses that pulled the pumper wagons stayed is still standing today," Campbell said.

While Cedmont has plenty of longtime residents, it is seeing an influx of newer residents, many of them first-time buyers.

The area's attractiveness and affordability first brought John Patras to Cedmont more than 30 years ago, and they are among the reasons he and his wife, Michele, remain there.

For $19,500 Patras and his first wife were able to purchase a single-family home with three bedrooms, a finished basement, garage and nearly 1,500 square feet of living space.

Most houses in the neighborhood were built between the 1920s and 1960s and can sell for as little as $40,000 for a fixer-upper or $65,000 for a duplex to $150,000 or more for a fully restored and updated five-bedroom Victorian. Most houses sell in the $80,000-to-$90,000 range.

"Where else am I going to get all of this house for this amount of money?" asked John Patras.

Howard Winter III and his wife, Maria, wanted a big place for their four small children when they were looking for a house four years ago.

Both in their 30s, the Winters wanted a nice house in a good, safe neighborhood that wouldn't make them house poor. They originally looked in Hamilton, where Maria Winter grew up. While driving around, they saw a five-bedroom house in Cedmont for $83,000. Not familiar with the neighborhood, Howard Winter investigated the area. "I went back at different times and I liked the neighborhood. The house wasn't on a busy street. It was quiet and it was safe," he said.

The Winters volunteer for the neighborhood watch group and Cedmont's Neighbor to Neighbor group, where 30 volunteers help the area's senior citizens and others who need help with such things as cutting grass or trimming bushes.

"It's the people," Maureen Schroeder said of the neighborhood's strength. "When I walk out in my neighborhood, I'm not afraid to talk to people. When you smile at people, they smile back at you."

Cedmont

ZIP code: 21206

Commuting time to downtown: 20 minutes

Schools: Hazelwood Elementary/Middle, Glenmount Elementary/Middle, Hamilton Elementary/Middle, and Eastern and Mergenthaler high schools

Shopping: White Marsh Mall, Parkway Crossing Shopping Center, Eastpoint Mall

*Average home price: $77,900

*Homes currently on the market: Three

*Average sale price: $83,000

Source: Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc.

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