In Glyndon, old homes, new event

Residents ready to open doors for first historic houses tour

May 11, 2007|By Josh Dombroskie | Josh Dombroskie,sun reporter

In a community on the edge of steeplechase country in western Baltimore County, the post office is in a building that used to be the town train station. Some narrow streets are lined with century-old Victorian homes.

Now the owners of those buildings in historic Glyndon are getting ready for visitors. And that has Nan Kaestner and her neighbors busy trying to make their homes look their best.

"I've wanted to paint that front door for years," she said, pointing to the elaborately carved, red-and-pink entrance to her house.

Her home is one of the stops on Glyndon's first historic house tour. The self-guided walking or driving tour, scheduled for 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. tomorrow, includes nine houses, three gardens -- and, for an additional fee, a box lunch on the veranda of the historic Emory Grove Hotel.

The "Doorways to the Past" tour is sponsored by the Historic Glyndon, an organization that helps maintain some of the buildings and beautifies the area.

Tickets are $15 in advance, or $20 the day of the event. Proceeds will go toward new signs and publication of a history of the community.

Richard Stanley, whose house and garden will be featured on the tour, said he believes the tour will help to raise Glyndon's visibility.

"We feel like we're all pulling together to preserve this historic property," said Stanley, a Historic Glyndon board member. "It's just incredible the amount of work people have done to preserve a historical quality."

Kaestner said that as one of the tour's co-chairs, the work involved in getting a house ready for a tour is difficult. And she said that she is one of the few homeowners who still has children in the house.

"Obviously one of the challenges for me being chairman and having a house on the tour is that I still have a family living in the home," she said, as her daughter's toy horse neighed from the corner.

According to previously published town history, Glyndon was founded as a summer community in 1871 by Dr. Charles Leas, Baltimore's first health officer. After the Western Maryland Railroad was built through the town a few years later, it became a place where people could live permanently and commute to work in the city.

The community is one of Baltimore County's original historical districts. Along with Monkton, Glyndon was designated a historic district in 1981. Other communities on the list include Sudbrook Park, Lutherville and Franklinville, among nine total districts, according to the Baltimore County Office of Planning Web site.

To become designated a historical district, 75 percent of landowners have to sign an agreement, according to the county planning office. That petition goes before the Landmarks Preservation Commission and then ultimately to the County Council, which votes on the matter.

Any structural changes to the historic houses in the district must be approved by the landmarks commission -- a condition that, Kaestner said, is worth bearing.

"We try to maintain this old-time, neighborhood community feel," she said.

To embrace that feel, the town celebrates each Fourth of July with a picnic and a parade.

"There are usually more people in the parade than there are watching it," Kaestner said.

The owners of each house have highlighted several items in the tour brochure.

"There was a duel in front of this mantle when it was in the old house, when it used to be a tavern," said Eleanor Taylor, gesturing toward the intricately carved molding above her fireplace.

"The bricks in the hearth actually came from the White House," she said. "There's a little brass plaque that says `original White House material, removed 1948,' on each brick."

When Harry S. Truman was president, he decided the White House was unsafe and needed to be gutted. Taylor noticed in the newspaper where bricks from the White House could be bought and she turned them into her fireplace hearth.

Originally located in the Liberty Dam area of Baltimore County, Taylor's home was built in 1760 and then moved, piece by piece, by her and her husband in 1958, to its current location in Glyndon.

The community is contained in such a small area that people can still walk to many places. The mail is not delivered in Glyndon. Residents walk to the post office to pick it up.

"You can walk to everything," Taylor said. "The post office. The grocery store.

"It's a real little village in itself. Glyndon is really special in that way."

If you go

The Gyndon Historic House Tour will be held 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow.

The tour is self-guided and can be walked or driven. Tickets can be purchased in advance at Santoni's Marketplace in Glyndon, at Graul's markets in Ruxton, May's Chapel and in Hereford, and at the Hickory Stick in Westminster. Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 tomorrow. A box lunch can be purchased for $10 in advance.

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