A stable, close-knit community

Insider's guide to Callaway-Garrison

August 24, 2008|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,andrea.siegel@baltsun.com

Tucked behind busy West Baltimore intersections lies a tiny neighborhood where one home caught the public eye this spring.

That's because the homeowner offered his broad, flat front yard as the Baltimore site of "Edible Estates," the project that challenges people to replace their front lawns with gardens of organic veggies, fruits and herbs.

Clarence Ridgley's bountiful yard stands out on a street of tidy brick and clapboard houses. And although none of his neighbors in the Callaway-Garrison community followed his lead, though plenty are enjoying his homegrown bounty.

Among the blueberry-lovers are Leonard Briscoe Jr.'s youngsters from across the street.

Briscoe recently took over that house from his father, one of many such stories in the neighborhood that's between Garrison Boulevard and Callaway Avenue north of Liberty Heights Avenue.

"I've always liked it here," he said. "It's like when I grew up, the kids run up and down the street and ride bikes."

Housing stock : The neighborhood dates to the 1920s and '30s. A few styles of sturdy houses, many with four bedrooms and nearly all with slate roofs and expansive front porches, were built of stone, brick and wood, often with detached garages.

Most were single-family, some duplexes. Over the years, some have become private rentals, but most are owner-occupied. Some are more manicured than others; crape myrtles bloom on a many a lawn.

"We are sort of in transition, in a good way," said Ridgley, president of the Callaway-Garrison Improvement Association, the low-key neighborhood organization.

Houses in the neighborhood sell in the mid-to-upper $100,000 range.Some houses have been renovated. And some are in various rehab stages, owing to the sweat equity of a younger generation of owners, as well as contractors.

Crime: There's very little, residents say. They suspect that is for several reasons: With retirees and adults caring for children at home, watchful eyes are always around. Residents know who's who; they know their neighbors' children, grandchildren and extended families. And many a big house here has a big dog that makes a big racket when the usual quiet is disturbed.

Shopping: Mondawmin Mall, a few minutes' drive away, is a draw, as is Security Square Mall, a bit farther out. Just about every street within a block or two of the community has convenience shopping.

Kids and schools : The neighborhood schools are Liberty Elementary, where students outperformed the city average on all but fifth-grade reading exams; Garrison Middle and Forest Park High, where performance on state exams was below the city average.

Basketball hoops dot the neighborhood. The Liberty Recreation Center, outside the community, offers a variety of youth sports programs. For family outings, the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is not far for an afternoon jaunt.

Transportation: Being a 5-minute drive from I-83 makes driving out of the city convenient, however, residents take not just to their cars.

"I don't drive and I get places," said longtime resident Beverly "Aunt Diane" Lofton, who often rides the buses that stop on Liberty Heights and Garrison, or takes the Metro from the West Cold Spring station, a few blocks away.

Dining in : Aldi has a grocery just beyond the neighborhood's unofficial borders; major supermarket chains are a little farther, and residents say they come to Lexington Market in the heart of the city.

Dining out : Most nearby places are take-outs, but proximity to shopping areas and downtown offers a wide choice of restaurants.

Nightlife: The AMC movie theater at Security Square is a popular evening out.

Recreation: Forest Park Golf Course is nearby, as is Gwynns Falls Park, which offers hiking trails, walking paths and picnic areas. The parkland of the Cylburn Arboretum and the historic Cylburn Mansion, is a short drive away.

Callaway- Garrison

ZIP code: 21215

Houses on the market: 12

Average sale price: $149,325*

Average days on market: 104

*Listing information based on current listings. Sales information based on home sales during the past 12 months from data of the Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc., compiled by Connie Lee Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Catonsville.

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