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Baltimore area’s most underrated neighborhoods: Lesser-known places to call home

Of the 250 or so Baltimore neighborhoods, just a few are well known – nearly everyone has heard of places like Fells Point and Federal Hill. But there’s a reason to keep an eye on those with a lower profile.

The city and surrounding counties are full of underrated places to call home, where the housing market is often less competitive and the amenities are just as attractive.

Here, we look at a handful of local neighborhoods you might not know – but you should.

Anneslie, Baltimore County

FACT: Anneslie is named for the Villa Anneslie, an Italianate villa built as a summer home during the mid-19th century that still stands in the center of the neighborhood.

PRICE RANGE: $300,000 to high $400,000s

Located in Towson just north of the Baltimore City line, Anneslie is as walkable as any urban neighborhood, but offers the space and comfort of the suburbs.

Amy Kline, an Anneslie resident since 1997, said the mixture can’t be beat. “It is city living but it’s in the county. You can walk to shops, several churches, banks, Towson and Belvedere Square, but you have land and are in a neighborhood,” she said. A new location of ultra-popular ice cream shop The Chamery joined the community this summer.

Kline, who lives with her husband and three daughters, was drawn to the neighborhood by its location and its history. “We wanted something with character, not a new home,” she said.

The community’s original homes include a mixture of bungalow, American foursquare and cottage styles, built during the first half of the 20th century. They combine architectural features like stone fireplaces and stucco archways with suburban conveniences, like driveways and garages.

Harwood, Baltimore City

FACT: Mosaic art by resident Tamara Payne decorates the exterior of many Harwood homes.

PRICE RANGE: Below $100,000 to low $200,000s

The small, central Baltimore neighborhood of Harwood, located just east of Charles Village, boasts the kinds of amenities that make city neighborhoods most desirable: a community garden and nearby grocery store, proximity to the Johns Hopkins University and other major employers, and an active community association.

It’s also a place where people know how to throw a block party.

On a regular basis, the residents – old-timers and newcomers – get together for no reason but to have fun.

“The parties aren’t organized by a larger group, just people on the block going around door to door and collecting a little money,” said longtime resident Nick Sheridan. “They get a permit and let everyone know. Someone brings out a barbecue and someone else takes photos. There’s a lot of street life in Harwood. It’s a great place to be.”

The neighborhood is composed of mostly two- and three-story rowhomes, some with porches and turrets reminiscent of Charles Village’s “painted ladies.”

Ridgely’s Delight, Baltimore City

FACT: Most of the homes in Ridgely’s Delight were built between the War of 1812 and the Civil War; historic preservation guidelines ensure that the neighborhood retains its character.

PRICE RANGE: Below $200,000 to high $300,000s

The appeal of Ridgely’s Delight is apparent from the outside: Its brick row homes burst with historic charm on tree-lined streets. But that’s only part of the neighborhood’s draw.

Sharon Reuther, who moved to Ridgley’s Delight in 1986, says location is key, too. “We’re not too far from Federal Hill, so we enjoy those restaurants and bars, but we’re a little quieter here. It’s the best of both worlds,” she said.

Reuther also noted the neighborhood’s playground and pocket park, bonuses for the young families that have been moving to and staying in the neighborhood.

“I love my neighbors,” she said. “We have a great support system.”

Sports fanatics will delight in Ridgely’s proximity to Oriole Park at Camden Yards and the Baltimore Ravens’ M&T Bank Stadium – both within easy walking distance.

Dickeyville, Baltimore City

FACT: Dickeyville’s annual Fourth of July celebrations last for several days and include a parade, golf tournaments, fireworks and a street party.

PRICE RANGE: Mid-$200,000s to mid-$400,000s

Tucked into a wooded area along the Gwynns Falls, Dickeyville was built during the 19th century to house workers at the paper and textile mills powered by the waterway. Today, the 137-home neighborhood retains its historic charm, with old mill buildings, churches and pretty stone and clapboard single-family homes.

But Dickeyville offers more than appealing architecture.

“In the sense of community, it’s such an eclectic, wide range of individuals who live there. Older to younger generations, mix of lifestyles and walks of life. It makes it an interesting place to interact with people,” said Dickeyville Association president Christopher Wharton, noting that in recent years, the neighborhood has had a youthful revival, with an influx of young families with children.

Maple Lawn, Howard County

FACT: The Maple Lawn Turkey Farm, which gave Maple Lawn its acreage and its name, is still in operation.

PRICE RANGE: Low $400,000s to $1,000,000-plus

Maple Lawn is the “hidden gem” of Fulton, said Craig Northrop, a real estate agent with Long & Foster. Though Fulton has been settled since the early 1800s, the sleepy, unincorporated area received much less attention than busy Howard County neighbors like Columbia and Ellicott City – until just over a decade ago, when Greenebaum Enterprises began developing the land.

Today, Maple Lawn is a vibrant mixed-use community that appeals to buyers looking for ease of access to Baltimore and Washington, new housing, and an energetic, urban vibe in a suburban location.

“It’s a planned community with pools and tennis courts and all kinds of commercial things,” said Northrop. “And it’s smaller city-style housing, both townhouses and single-family homes.”

The community also boasts large single-family homes, proximity to the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab, and a growing number of restaurants, included the lauded Indian spot Ananda.

Falls Crest, Harford County

FACT: The an entrance to the Little Gunpowder White Trail hiking trail in is only about a mile from Falls Crest.

PRICE RANGE: $800,000-plus

In Harford County, Bel Air gets a lot of buzz, but the town of Fallston has plenty to offer. Its Falls Crest neighborhood – full of large single-family homes built around the turn of the millennium – is just one of its attractive spots.

When Julie Lefkowitz and her family moved to Falls Crest in 2010, they were initially attracted to the community’s convenient location, with easy access to Interstate 95 and proximity to great schools, sports fields and the Fallston Branch Library.

Looking closer, Lefkowitz realized the neighborhood’s allure goes deeper.

“The houses are not cookie-cutter. There are about 37 houses in the neighborhood we live in and they’re by multiple different builders,” she said. “The lots are large, so we see a lot of wildlife – deer, fox, birds, rabbits. It’s very much a parklike setting. There’s great hiking, mountain biking and fishing. It’s a wonderful place.”

Westgate, Baltimore City & Baltimore County

FACT: The Westgate Community Association was founded in 1931; its first president was Judge Herbert Grymes, a former member of the Maryland House of Delegates.

PRICE RANGE: Mid-$100,000s to mid-$200,000s

Westgate, which straddles the Baltimore City-Baltimore County border, has a rich history that’s been carefully documented by its active community association, but its pull is also thoroughly modern.

Its southwestern Baltimore location is convenient to BWI Airport, the Halethorpe train station and downtown Baltimore, making it an ideal spot for households with commuters heading to both Baltimore and Washington. On top of that, the neighborhood offers easy access to Leakin Park and regularly scheduled community events keep residents busy when they’re at home.

Affordability is a factor, too. “Average home price in 2017 was around $180,000, for the same types of homes you’d find in Ellicott City or Catonsville – historic homes, single detached houses. There are cottages, bungalows, American foursquares and Dutch colonials,” said Live Baltimore’s Annie Milli. “There’s a lot of great architecture you can purchase at a great value.”

Find your fit

If you like Columbia, you might like Maple Lawn.

If you like Hunt Valley, you might like Falls Crest.

If you like Catonsville, you might like Westgate.

If you like Rodgers Forge or Stoneleigh, you might like Anneslie.

If you like Charles Village, you might like Harwood.

If you like Federal Hill, you might like Ridgely’s Delight.

If you like historic Ellicott City, you might like Dickeyville.

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About Mary Ellen Bellusci

Mary Ellen Bellusci is a longtime resident of Baltimore, Maryland... A foodie, traveler, writer, and pursuer of happiness.