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Overlea-From the Front Porch.

Below is a story written by an Overlea resident describing what a summer night on his front porch looks like.

A Midsummer Nights Dream (In Overlea)

As the sun sets and the sounds of playing children fade into the night, Overlea’s other residents awaken.  Cautiously the rabbits venture out waiting for the darkness to envelope them after an afternoon siesta from the summers heat.  The squirrels, settling into their tree top apartments for the night, look down and survey the neighborhood from the old trees that have seen so many nights such as this.  The baby raccoons, restless and full of energy have been waiting all afternoon to go out and play.  They nudge mom and dad from their slumber and you can almost hear them ask “can we go out and play yet?”. 

As the darkness takes a firm hold the baby rabbits emboldened by the darkness begin to frolic and play carefree as mom and dad look on, relaxing in the cool grass.  The babies run and jump, chasing one another endlessly until exhaustion overtakes them and they stop for a bite to eat and a short rest.  Momma rabbit is relaxed but cautious, she knows it’s too early yet for the fox but she’ll take no chances with her babies.  Thus she is the first to spot the commotion when the raccoon family comes over the fence and onto the green.  She knows they’re no danger, a nice bunch actually but those teenagers of theirs can be a bit rowdy sometimes even if they are good kids.  Mom and dad seem to have them under control tonight though and they keep the shenanigans to a minimum as they move on along and out of site again. 

The night is wearing on now and the rabbits have had their fill of grass and clover.  The children are getting tired and momma rabbit is on full alert.  This is about the time the foxes come through.  They haven’t been around much lately, the red and the grey, but while her babies are still so small it’s best to get everyone settled in and secure.

The raccoon parents too sense the night waning and begin to gather the boys for the walk home.  It takes far more time then it should, four rambunctious boys is a handful even for mother.  Dad however has no such problems and he get’s involved and the boys fall back in line.  They arrive home just as the light begins to creep into the sky from the east and the squirrels again begin to stir in their treetops.  The family settles in for a long warm day as the birds begin to sing harkening the sun as it breaks the sky and a new day in Overlea begins.

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Many species of wild and plant life can be found here in Overlea-making you forget you are in “the city.”

Here are some species of mammals that can be found here in Baltimore:

  • Virginia oppossum Didelphis virginiana
  • Shrew (Variety of Species)
  • Moles (Variety of species)
  • Bats (Variety of Species)
  • White Tail Deer
  • Eastern pipistrelle Pipistrellus subflavus
  • Cotton Tails (Variety of Species)
  • American beaver Castor canadensis
  • Porcupine Erethizon dorsatum
  • Red fox Vulpes vulpes
  • Common gray fox Urocyon cinereoargenteus
  • Eastern spotted skunk Spilogale putorius
  • Striped skunk Mephitis mephitis

The native plant list is too long to list, so this article put together by the Maryland Cooperative Extension at The University of Maryland is a great guide to local plants.

You can purchase native plants from the Herring Run Nursery.

Loons, Finches and Owls-Oh My! The Birds of Overlea.

Loons, Finches and Owls-Oh My! The Birds of Overlea are back. Time to break out the feeders. 

We asked experts from the Natural History Societyof Maryland what feathered visitors our neighborhood could expect to arrive next.  Some are just passing through, while others will be staying the summer or year round.  We put together a list of twelve birds you’re most likely to see in Overlea now.  Click the link below to get more details about any of them. 

  1. Red Throated Loon
  2. Purple Finch
  3. Great Blue Heron
  4. Nuthatch
  5. Golden Crowned Kinglet
  6. Short-eared Owl
  7. Snow Goose
  8. Red Tailed Hawk
  9. Eastern Phoebe
  10. Bald Eagle
  11. Peregrine Falcon
  12. Double Crested Cormorant

For a colorful show in your yard, put your feeders out now and keep them stocked through the fall.  Just remember that bird seed has and expiration date.  The oil inside the seeds can get rancid if kept for too long.  Keep your bird-feeders clean so that the birds have a healthy place to stop and eat.  

Finally, If you offer just one feeder and one type of seed, make it a tube feeder with sunflower seeds.  You’ll attract chickadees, cardinals, nuthatches, finches and more.   Happy Birding.

Overlea Home Honored as a Centennial Home

On Saturday November 6, 2010 the Rist home on Everall Avenue in Overlea was recognized as a Centennial Home.
The Baltimore Heritage Inc. honored the Rist family and home with the presentation of a plaque in recognition of the home being owned and occupied by the same family for over 100 years. The Rist’s have been in their home for 105 years.
Mrs. Norma Rist gladly accepted the plaque which is now mounted on her house. While accepting it she commented that her “in-laws must be smiling down from heaven right now.”
Her children, grand and great grandchildren as well as neighbors were there to celebrate with her.
The Rist home is an example of the legacy shared in the Overlea community by the generations of families who still chose to call it home.
Mrs. Rist adds grace and character that contributes to the beauty of Overlea.
The Baltimore Centennial Homes project, developed in collaboration between Baltimore Heritage and City Councilman James Kraft, recognizes families that have been in the same house for 100 years or more. These families have anchored Baltimore’s historic blocks and neighborhoods through good and
bad times. Their stories show the changes that our communities and our city have experienced as well as the critical roles that neighborhoods and their families have played in keeping historic neighborhoods thriving. The
Centennial Homes program has received generous support from the Maryland Humanities Council and the Middendorf Foundation. Has your family or a family you know lived in the same house for over 100 years? If so, Baltimore Heritage would love to hear from you. For more information feel free to call them at 410-332-9992.

OVERLEA TREE PLANTING HELPS THE ENVIRONMENT

Rawlings-Blake and Smith Call for More Trees in Neighborhoods-
Growing Home Campaign Targets Tree Canopy Deficit

Overlea, MD. (October 21, 2010) –  Chesley Avenue in Overlea will be considerably greener next spring – both in appearance and benefits to the environment thanks to some tree-planting assistance from Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith and Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. The two top executives teamed up this afternoon to plant trees and encourage area residents to plant trees in their yards.

This tree-planting event provides an opportunity to highlight collaboration among the City and County, watershed and community organizations, and citizens for improving water quality and community quality of life. Community greening is a focus area identified in the Baltimore Watershed Agreement, a partnership between the city and county to address pollution problems in the region’s watersheds. Increasing the tree canopy is a major step to improving water quality in urban areas. Two existing community greening initiatives to increase urban tree canopy include TreeBaltimore and the Growing Home Campaign.

“Together residents in the region have planted about 7,000 trees through the Growing Home Campaign since the program began in 2006, and that’s a great start, but we need to do more,” Smith said, “The cool fall weather makes this a great time for all of us to ‘Fall for a Tree’ by planting trees in our communities. Trees not only beautify communities, but they also help reduce home energy costs, reduce storm runoff into our waterways and cut greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere.”

Growing Home Campaign
Developed in 2006 by the Baltimore County Department of Environmental Protection and Resource Management, the Growing Home Campaign has been adopted by Baltimore City and Harford County. Throughout the region, the program now serves a total population of 1.6 million people and encompasses a land area of more than 1,100 square miles.

“I want to thank County Executive Smith for being a partner in the Growing Home campaign,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “He understands that the air we breathe and the water we drink does not care about boundary lines. The trees planted throughout the region as a part of Growing Home will make the air and water we share cleaner.”

Growing Home is a partnership between the participating jurisdictions; homeowners; and tree retailers like nurseries, home improvement stores and garden centers. The program features education for residents on tree species selection, planting instructions, site considerations and maintenance. This nationally recognized public/private partnership addresses a deficit in the local tree canopy by providing money-off coupons for homeowners to purchase trees worth $25 or more at participating retailers and plant them in their yards. Retailers share half of the cost of the $10 coupons. (PDF opens new window)

Support for Growing Home is provided in part by the Chesapeake Bay Trust and the Honeywell Corporation. “Honeywell is proud to support the Growing Home Campaign to increase urban tree canopies in Baltimore County, which will ultimately help protect the Chesapeake Bay Watershed,” said John Morris, Director of Honeywell Environmental Projects. “We are committed to supporting community projects that protect and enhance the environment.”
Award Winning Program

The Growing Home Campaign was called “one of the region’s most aggressive efforts to expand urban forests” by the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay in the April 2008 issue of the Bay Journal, and was awarded a 2008 National Association of Counties (NACo) Achievement Award.

Learn More
Citizens can learn more about great trees for our area and get $10 Growing Home coupons online at two sites:  www.growinghome.info  and also at http://baltimorecity.gov/Government/AgenciesDepartments/RecreationandParks/TreeBaltimore/Programs.aspx  In addition, brochures with the coupons are widely available in public libraries and senior centers.

Why We Chose Overlea

Eric and Boglarka discovered Overlea when looking for a neighborhood that was quite, near the beltway and had great houses.  They found out some other things after moving in- that Overlea has families that have been living here for several generations. “ Right next door to us, our neighbor is the third generation.  Sharon ’s Grandmother bought her  house in 1932.”  Now that Eric and Boglarka are expecting their first child, they discovered a few other things,  “Turns out, the schools are really good.  And our baby is the second due on our street.  We know several other families due with babies on the next street over.  We really like being part of a community that is growing.”

Overlea Soldier Serves His Country and His Neighborhood

Joe Robinson grew up in Overlea, has served two tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq, and has now come home to serve Northeast Baltimore County as a police officer.   He shared his story with the Overlea Community Association at the general meeting on Tuesday, April 13th.

The Robinson family has long history in the Overlea area.   Joe’s parents Dennis Robinson, also a retired Baltimore County police officer, and his wife Barbara Robinson have lived in Overlea for over 35 years; but also grew up in the area.  They raised all five of their children on Everall Avenue and now they all live within 15 minutes of each other.  Two of the children, including Joe, have stayed in Overlea and are raising their own families here.   

Joe served his first tour in Afghanistan from May 2003 to May 2004, where he met his wife – Anastasia.  Dennis described his first introduction to her as a blonde blur on the computer screen (they were talking through web cam) and hearing her say, “Hi Mr. Robinson, I’m your future daughter-in-law.”  It turns out she was.  They returned, married and then Joe was deployed again to Iraq.  Their daughter was born while he was deployed.  He could not come home for the birth.   Dennis described the emotional day,  “We did one of those web cam family gatherings right after she was born. It was a pretty memorable moment… even the doctor cried.”

After returning to home, Joe and his wife both serve the area as police officers.  Joe is an officer at Precinct 9 – Whitemarsh (which covers a large portion of Overlea) and his wife is a police officer in Precinct 1 on the southwest side of the county.   We are grateful to them for their service to our country and our neighborhood. 
 

Overlea Pub Crawl and a Tee That Tells the World “This Neighborhood Rocks!”

Overlea’s best wateringholes will play host to area residents and visitors from all over Baltimore as they tour Overlea taverns.   To participate just show up at John’s Elmwood Tavern at 4p.m. on May 8th.  

To really join the fun send $15 to the Overlea Community Association at P.O. Box 18895, Baltimore, MD 21206 to get your rockin’ Tshirt.  Party goers wearing the shirt will receive specials at all bars.  See details below along with the tour schedule.

4 p.m.  John’s Elmwood Tavern / 4423 Kenwood Avenue:
All domestics, rails and drafts $1.75,  Appetizers half price

(All other times are approximate and depend on how much fun we’re having at each bar.)

5:30 p.m.  Ohara’s Irish Pub / Belair & Kenood Ave:
Domestic Drafts $1.00, $.40 Wings

7:00 p.m.  Buck Fowlers / Belair Road at Fleetwood:
$1.25 Domestic Drafts

8:00 p.m.  Overlea Station / Belair Road at Overlea Ave:
$1.00 Domestics, $2.00 Rails, $3.00 Imports – Including Resurrection!

Click here to find out more about the bars.  If you can’t join the fun, but still want a shirt – Send in your $15 and how to reach you and we’ll make sure you get your shirt.   Cheers!

Blue Jays Have Arrived in Overlea – A Sure Sign of Spring

Time to break out the feeders.  The birds are back! 

We asked experts from the Natural History Societyof Maryland what feathered visitors our neighborhood could expect to arrive next.  Some are just passing through, while others will be staying the summer or year round.  We put together a list of twelve birds you’re most likely to see in Overlea now.  Click the link below to get more details about any of them. 

  1. Red Throated Loon
  2. Purple Finch
  3. Great Blue Heron
  4. Nuthatch
  5. Golden Crowned Kinglet
  6. Short-eared Owl
  7. Snow Goose
  8. Red Tailed Hawk
  9. Eastern Phoebe
  10. Bald Eagle
  11. Peregrine Falcon
  12. Double Crested Cormorant

For a colorful show in your yard, put your feeders out now and keep them stocked through the fall.  Just remember that bird seed has and expiration date.  The oil inside the seeds can get rancid if kept for too long.  Keep your bird-feeders clean so that the birds have a healthy place to stop and eat.  

Finally, If you offer just one feeder and one type of seed, make it a tube feeder with sunflower seeds.  You’ll attract chickadees, cardinals, nuthatches, finches and more.   Happy Birding.

Overlea To Get Maryland Natural History Museum

The Natural History Society of Maryland houses a wall of cloudy-eyed snakes, drawers full of fossils, rocks, and skeletal remains of behemoths, shelves displaying Native American artifacts and glass-enclosed cases with mounted birds. More than 50,000 specimens, some preserved for more than a century, pay testament to the state’s rich natural heritage and the society’s tenacity at saving them.

“We are about natural history here,” said Ginger Mihalik, executive director of the society founded 80 years ago in Baltimore. “Live is not the focus for the plant and animal specimens we have.”

Since losing its one-time home at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, during the 1970s when administrative offices were expanded, the collection has gathered dust in a Charles Village townhouse that offered the public no access. The society found a more spacious venue in Overlea in the 9,000-square-foot former catering hall that it purchased three years ago. Members plan to renovate the two-story structure on Belair Road into the Maryland Naturalist Center, where “kids can get unplugged and connected with nature,” said Carl “Bud” Herb, society treasurer.

“We want a hands-on facility with hands-on programs, many of them designed so children can learn,” Herb said. “We want visitors to hold a thousand-years-old shark tooth and feel the sharp edges. People can examine birds from the 1800s and see how they have changed over the years.”

The project will revive the society, established in 1929, and the neighborhood, said Mihalik and Herb, who each live within walking distance of the circa-1913 building that originally was Overlea’s town hall.

When it came on the market, residents were concerned the site at a busy crossing would attract another gas station or liquor store.

“Those were the last things we wanted to see on this corner,” said Mihalik. “People were so excited about the possibility of this museum they were doing cartwheels.”

Proximity to the beltway and to the city, with a metro bus line that stops at the front door, makes it an ideal location. The county has included the project in the recently adopted Overlea Fullerton master plan. “It will be a draw for the neighborhood and a stable institution,” Mihalik said.

Since its founding, the society, which has about 120 active members, has acted as the steward of Maryland’s natural history and remains dedicated to conserving its vast collections. Artifacts provide evidence of the whales and sharks that inhabited Maryland’s coastal waters thousands of years ago and of the Native Americans who hunted, fished and camped along the state’s rivers.

A glass display case filled with birds indigenous to the state sits in the lobby of the building. Its tarnished brass plate notes the specimens were shot, mounted and placed on perches set in the case in 1850.

“It’s all so Victorian,” Mihalik said. “They look so natural, exactly the way you would see them in nature.”

The delightful display was nearly lost to the society, until the case was discovered in a barn in Oregon. That plate led to a call to the society and an offer to ship it back to Maryland. Not all collections find their way from collectors to the society. One Marylander’s collection of 16,000 butterflies has been divided among eight other state museums and will never be reassembled. Heirs to a collection of rare fish had no idea what to do with it and sent it to a landfill.

“These items need to stay here in Maryland and we need to house them here at the society,” Mihalik said.

Members plan exhibit space, classrooms and conference areas, and possibly a tower for bird-watching. They would hang a hefty whale skeleton – now on loan to a North Carolina museum – from the rafters in the great hall above a display of rocks, minerals and fossils that includes a mastodon tooth unearthed in Towson. The Native American axes, arrowheads, carved pipes and painted pottery could stay permanently on exhibit. Researchers would find space to peruse dozens of rare nature books. Visitors would see that astounding wall of snakes, many collected during a statewide reptile survey in the 1970s and all preserved in jars filled with formaldehyde.

Several clubs, focused on various aspects of natural history, including a herpetology group, are meeting at the building. Scientists can conduct research there and Mihalik has scheduled a few programs, but a grand opening is about $150,000 and a year away.

“We are still in the birthing phase and working on grant applications,” Mihalik said. “Our main focus now is to get this building open so we can run programs and protect our collection. We have had no place to archivally preserve history, but hopefully, this building will change all that. And it will change Belair Road and make this community a destination.”