Insider's Guide To Taneytown

A slowed-down way of life

June 01, 2008|By Nancy Jones-Bonbrest | Nancy Jones-Bonbrest,Special to The Sun

Founded in 1754 through a land grant to Edward Diggs and Raphael Taney, Taneytown prides itself on local history.

It is, after all, Carroll County's oldest incorporated city, and it includes a site where George Washington stayed in July 1791. Many of its historic structures have been preserved, and a section of the city is a National Register Historic District.

The city is sometimes noted for its role in the Civil War, when Union Gen. George G. Meade ordered his troops to counter any move toward Washington or Baltimore by Gen. Robert E. Lee's army. A description of the account is laid out on a historical marker that sits at the city's Memorial Park.

Today, Taneytown boasts a main street with antique shops, churches and well-maintained houses set against a backdrop of rolling hills and farmland.

"Right now, we're trying to preserve our downtown. We're trying to preserve our small-town atmosphere," said Alice Unger, the president of the Taneytown Heritage Committee. "A lot of the homes are pre-Civil War. Everyone admires our architecture, and so we think it's worth keeping. It's something we can offer."

Unger lives in the house once occupied by her grandparents. It dates to 1896 and is in the historic district. The property features a restored carriage house in the back and a florist shop in the front run by Unger's daughter.

Located at the crossroads of Routes 140 and 194, Taneytown offers a slowed-down way of life only minutes away from Westminster, Frederick County and the Pennsylvania towns of Hanover and Gettysburg.

Every year, Taneytown residents turn out for community events like the Christmas-tree lighting and the Invasion of the Pumpkin People, a contest in October that offers residents, churches and businesses a chance to dress up pumpkins with scarecrow-type bodies.

Housing stock --Taneytown has a mix of housing styles, including newly built homes in an active-adult community as well as historic houses in Federal, Queen Anne, Georgian, Greek Revival and Victorian styles. Duplexes, townhouses, bungalows and ranchers are also located throughout the city, as are some newer single-family houses on large lots.

This mesh of styles accounts for the wide range of real estate prices and attracts buyers from several markets.

"It's a small-town feeling. [Buyers] like the uniqueness of the area," said Lisa Trout, an agent with Long & Foster Taneytown. "It's just a small country little town. We are growing."

Townhouses start around $130,000, while single-family houses fetch prices in the mid-$200s. Historic houses, farms and new single-family houses have higher asking prices.

"Prices compared to Frederick are a lot cheaper, yet Frederick is only about 30 minutes away," said Trout. Taneytown is "an ideal place to be, and you get a lot more for your money."

Crime --There's a relatively low crime rate in Taneytown, according to police chief Bill Tyler. Last year, there were just more than 8,000 service calls, with 351 arrests in an area of about 7,000 people. There were no homicides last year, and Tyler said the department works with nine community-action groups to help control crime.

"We do a lot of proactive patrols up here," said Tyler. "We work well with the community."

Schools --Taneytown is served by Taneytown and Runnymede elementary schools, Northwest Middle and Francis Scott Key High. All four schools have met Maryland proficiency levels in both reading and mathematics. The schools also have met state Adequate Yearly Progress requirements.

Shopping --Taneytown has used its designation as both a state and nationally accredited Main Street community to revitalize its downtown, which offers antique stores, specialty shops and more. There are also businesses at the southern end of the city. When it comes to big-box stores and malls, residents must take a short drive to Westminster or Pennsylvania, where there's plenty of shopping.

Dining in --Food Lion and Kennie's Market are the grocery stores residents can choose from.

Dining out --Taneytown is home to the historic Antrim 1844, a 36-room hotel and restaurant set on a former plantation that's listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Smokehouse Restaurant offers a fine-dining experience.

For those looking for something less formal, there are several local establishments offering pizza, pub fare, subs and Chinese food. There also are a coffee shop and tearoom in town.

Nightlife --There's not much in the form of clubs, but the newly opened Taneytown Tavern features a casual menu and a great place to watch sporting events. For a family outing, there's the Thunderhead Bowling and Family Fun Center.

Recreation --Taneytown Memorial Park offers residents a place to relax, exercise and picnic. The park boasts tot lots, a horseshoe pit, softball and football fields, lighted tennis courts, basketball courts and more. There's also the member-based Taneytown Rod and Gun Club.

Community Web site --A listing of the many Taneytown clubs and organizations can be found at


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*Information based on sales during the past 90 days, complied by Lisa Trout of Long & Foster Taneytown and Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc.

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