Anneslie offers small-town charm blocks from the city line

NEIGHBORHOOD PROFILE

Tree-lined steets, older homes, front porches welcome buyers

September 26, 2004|By Lynn Marie Honeywill | Lynn Marie Honeywill,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Scott and Sue McGovern's Canton rowhouse once suited their "fun, just-married, pre-kids adventure in the city" just fine.

When they decided to start a family, however, "we wanted some grass under our feet," said Scott McGovern, 37, an architect. "But we still didn't want to feel isolated from downtown and those restaurants in Canton that we like."

Conventional suburbs struck them as "sterile." So, in 2000, the McGoverns found the right fit in Anneslie, a tree-canopied Towson-area neighborhood. The area's old-time feel - evoked by its older homes, sidewalks and welcoming front porches - reminded Sue McGovern of Willard, the small Ohio town where she grew up.

A Baltimore County community of about 500 single-family frame and brick homes, Anneslie adjoins Stoneleigh on the north at Regester Avenue. The community's southern boundary, Windwood Road, lies about two blocks from the city line. Maplewood and Banbury roads make up its eastern border. On the west, Anneslie is bounded by York Road, undergoing a $6.2 million streetscape renovation extending from Northern Parkway in Baltimore north past Anneslie to Stevenson Lane.

This summer, the streetscape project's contractors rebuilt commercial plazas fronting the Stone York center and two flanking storefront centers that border Anneslie and Stoneleigh. Within easy walking distance of Anneslie, the shops function as a neighborhood Main Street, offering pharmacies, a hardware store, hair salons, places to eat and a duckpin bowling alley.

During the McGoverns' daylong celebration of their twin sons' second birthday, the family decided to go to the local ice cream shop.

"You can't do that in the suburbs - you can't just go walk and get an ice cream cone," said Scott McGovern while relaxing on his 78-year-old bungalow's wood porch.

The McGoverns are among the influx of young, growing families that have moved during the past decade to Anneslie and the highly regarded Towson school district it belongs to, said Jim Dobson, a 34-year resident and president of the Anneslie Community Association.

The association, which started a Web site in May, sponsors neighborhood events throughout the year, including an annual spring picnic, a crab feast and a new-neighbor party.

Urban rowhouse owners such as the McGoverns who are looking to upgrade to single-family homes have long been attracted to Anneslie and nearby Stoneleigh and Wiltondale, said Tom Mooney, a partner at O'Conor & Mooney Realtors in Lutherville.

"But Anneslie is a little more affordable," he said.

Even so, like other in-demand communities, Anneslie's real estate market is booming, said Tim Hodgin, an agent with Long & Foster Real Estate Inc.'s Towson center. Home prices averaged $279,637 during the past year and have been climbing. Four houses sold for $310,000 to $350,000 this summer.

"It's a very competitive market, and people are always trying to get into Anneslie," said Jim Sheridan, an Anneslie homeowner who is an agent with O'Conor & Mooney Realtors.

The values of many Anneslie homes have appreciated sharply, including the home of Jim and Heather Grandsire. The Baltimore city and county teachers bought a two-story brick colonial in early 2001. Last summer they had the house appraised and learned that its value had jumped $88,000, to $258,000, even without major upgrades.

"We definitely lucked out with the timing of our purchase," said Jim Grandsire, 33. "It's one of the best decisions we've made."

The Grandsires, who previously rented a rowhouse in Canton, have a 2-year-old daughter and are expecting another child.

The rising prices have encouraged residents to renovate, said Glen Wischhusen, an Anneslie homeowner and an agent with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage's Towson-Lutherville office. The brick Cape Cod fixer-upper he bought in 1997 for $115,000 was appraised at $234,000 last year, he said.

The first houses in Anneslie were built in 1923 on 110 acres of the former estate of Villa Anneslie. The area had been developed in 1855 as a summer home for Frederick Harrison, a leading surveyor. He named it for his daughter Anne. Today, Villa Anneslie is on the Baltimore County Landmarks List and the National Register of Historic Places.

The designs of Anneslie homes vary from wood-frame cottages to brick Tudor and colonial. Here and there, a house reveals Mediterranean architectural influences.

The houses are definitely "not cookie-cutter tract homes," said Steve Anderson, who moved into a brick Cape Cod in Anneslie last year with his wife, Sue, and 9-year-old son.

A librarian at a Baltimore law firm, Anderson said he prizes the neighborhood's safety and friendliness.

"You really get to know your neighbors here," said Molly Glassman, an 11-year resident and former president of Anneslie's community association. "It sounds old-fashioned, but it's true."

Anneslie

Zip code: 21212

Commuting time to downtown Baltimore: 20 minutes

Public schools: Stoneleigh Elementary School; Dumbarton Middle School; Towson High School

Shopping: Stone York and shops in the 6700-9900 blocks of York Road; York Road Plaza; Anneslie Shopping Center; Towson Town Center; Belvedere Square.

Homes on the market: Two

Average list price: $287,072 *

Average sale price: $279,637 *

Sales price as percentage of list price: 97.41 % *

Average days on market: 25 *

* Based on 11 homes sold during the past 12 months, as compiled by the Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc.

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