Hidden treasure nestled near Hopkins campus

June 22, 2008|By Nancy Jones-Bonbrest | Nancy Jones-Bonbrest,Special to The Sun

Like the name, the neighborhood of Tuscany-Canterbury offers two parts.

One is familiar, with well-known restaurants, busy streets and towering apartments and condominiums. The other is a tucked-away, lesser-known enclave of stylish homes, winding streets and beautifully landscaped yards.

And while other neighborhoods might have trouble melding the two worlds, it seems to offer the perfect eclectic mix for residents of Tuscany-Canterbury.

"It's charming," said A.J. O'Brien, president of the Tuscany-Canterbury Neighborhood Association. "We're an urban neighborhood that's very family-friendly. It's just a great environment to raise children."

The neighborhood, named for two of its streets, was built mostly during the 1920s and offers buildings of several noted architects. But the area has a history that dates back to a land grant in the late 1600s. In 2001, it became designated as a National Register Historic District.

Flanked by the Johns Hopkins University on the south, Charles Street on the east, Linkwood Road on the west and Overhill and Warrenton roads on the north, the central location is a key attraction. Professors from the university and local politicians call the neighborhood home.

Residents like its hidden-gem appeal, with many homes selling by word of mouth. The tight-knit neighborhood has no official welcoming sign announcing its existence, something that is deliberately missing.

"We're not that vain," said O'Brien, who moved to his five-bedroom, three-story Colonial rowhouse more than 20 years ago. "It's friendly, it's safe. This is a very pedestrian-friendly neighborhood. People like to walk around."

Housing stock : High-rise and mid-rise condominium and apartment buildings along the busier streets help protect the rest of the neighborhood from much of the city noise. Just behind the buildings are quiet, tree-lined streets with stately Tudor and Colonial-style rowhouses and a few free-standing homes.

Much of the neighborhood has an almost European appeal with Colonial town houses, tree-lined streets and landscaped front yards taking on an English feel, while the Tudor homes are reminiscent of Germany. The Tudor-style homes are made up of interesting twists and angles that make many of the buildings appear as one grand residence, when, in fact, they're several homes.

"It's a great little neighborhood," said Christine Dahdah, a Realtor with Hill & Co. Realtors in the Village of Cross Keys. "It is a small, lovely enclave surrounded by other affluent neighborhoods of Roland Park and Guilford."

House prices vary greatly, ranging from one-bedroom condominiums selling for $120,000 to five-bedroom, three-bath town houses that sell for $500,000. Single-family houses sell for much more.

Sunrooms, slate roofs and stained-glass windows are found throughout many of the houses. Two large, striking buildings tucked away in the neighborhood operate as cooperatives.

Dahdah said that while city dwellers and people associated with the Johns Hopkins University might know the neighborhood by name, many others don't.

"It's truly a hidden treasure," she added.

Rentals : Many rentals can be found here, ranging from small studio apartments to luxury three-bedroom apartments. An average price for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit is about $1,350.

Crime: "It's a very stable community," says Doug Gibson, a community affairs officer with the Baltimore City Police Department's Northern District. "We rarely get calls in there and, if we do, it's typically a parking complaint."

The biggest problem when it comes to crime is theft from automobiles, said Gibson.

Schools: Residents in Tuscany-Canterbury are served by Roland Park Elementary/Middle School, which has continually exceeded Maryland state proficiency levels in both reading and math. The public high schools are Baltimore Polytechnic Institute and Western High, which also exceed state levels and have graduation rates of above 97 percent.

A slew of well-known private schools is only minutes away, and the Calvert School in the heart of the neighborhood. Nationally known for its home-schooling curriculum, the Calvert School operates a pre-K through eighth-grade day school on Tuscany Road. Although relations between the school and community have been strained in the past because of school expansion plans, O'Brien said they try to strike a good working relationship.

Shopping : The neighborhood is better known for its restaurants than its shopping, with only a few businesses located mostly in the lower levels of the apartment and condominium buildings. However, the Rotunda shopping center is a short walk away. The center is scheduled to undergo renovations this year, with a mix of retail, office and housing planned.

Dining in : Eddie's of Roland Park or Giant Food at the Rotunda are the closest choices. The 32nd Street/Waverly farmers market on Saturdays is also a popular destination.

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