Overlea is a unique Baltimore community. We’re part city and part county. We have suburbs and storefronts. We’re a mixture of cultures and professions. Our rich history includes several family businesses that have operated here for over 100 years, and houses dating back to the turn of the century.

We have an active community association that holds meetings several times a year, which are open for everyone to attend. The community association board consists of a small group of neighbors who love our community and give a little extra time to organize activities and advocate for the improvement of our neighborhood. To learn more about our community organization or volunteer opportunities, contact board president Carol Stover at carolstover@comcast.net.

Overlea Farmers Market

The Overlea Farmers Market runs from June through September at the parking lot of the Natural History Society.

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Annual Christmas Tree Lighting

The Overlea Community Association hosts an annual Christmas Tree Lighting each year in December.

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Overlea ArtsFest

Overlea ArtsFest takes place in June every year, featuring artists and performers from all over the Baltimore area.

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March is Women’s History Month – Overlea Plays a Role in Women’s Right to Vote

In the winter of 1913, a large group of women known as the Army of the Hudson, marched from New York to Washington D.C in pursuit of their right to vote.  They marched over 200 miles, taking nearly 3 months to complete their journey.  Overlea’s town hall, now home to the Natural History Society of Maryland and previously Chesley Place, was to be one of the last stopping points for the entire group before they marched on to Washington. Throngs of well-wishers came out by trolley car to meet the group.  However, the younger women, lead by General Jones, walked faster and were determined to push on to Washington, D.C.  They ended up in Baltimore city instead of Overlea.   The slower group of women, lead by Colonel Craft, stopped in Overlea with her troupe as planned.  Stories about the mishap were reported in the New York Times.

To see the original articles from the NY Times archives click the links below:

Col. Craft Defiant – Hikers in Revolt: Feb 23, 1913

Col. Craft is Angry, Snub for General Jones: Feb. 25, 1913

While some residents of Overlea, like Reverend Cyrus Cort, were opposed to the women stopping here, many offered up their homes and came out to support them.

“Overlea is much upset over the failure of Gen. Jones to call a halt at that place tonight.  A feast had been prepared in anticipation of the coming of the suffragists.  The community was wrought up over the attitude in regard to the suffragists of the Rev. Cyrus Cort, 75 years old, a superannuated minister.  Forty years ago Dr. Cort had a dispute with Susan B. Anthony on the question of suffrage for women.   Dr. Cort disagreed with her on some points and for years has held strong opinions about woman suffrage.  There was a meeting of the Overlea Civic League on Thursday, and Dr. Cort opposed welcoming the army to Overlea.  He was voted down.   In anticipation of the coming of the hikers to Overlea about 300 Baltimoreans went out to the village by trolley cars.  It was just such a gathering as would go out to see a circus pitch its tents. “   NY Times, Col. Craft Defiant – Hikers in Revolt, Feb. 23, 1913

Colonel Craft’s group left Overlea after spending the night in private homes and walked the additional five miles to rejoin the rest of their group at the Stafford Hotel.  Overlea came to cheer them on as they moved into the city.

“The detachment left Overlea about 10 o’clock.  All the villagers came out to see them depart.  The pilgrims were preceded by four-year-old Albert Ayeman and six-year-old Julia Rasp, both wearing “votes for women” streamers of yellow cloth.  Though Col. Craft’s feet were sore and Dr. Ernest Stevens of Philadelphia had a lame ankle, the pilgrims were able to make good time.  They passed the Four-Mile House at 10:15 o’clock, and shortly after paused to respond to good wishes at Raspeburg, where they left the Belair Road to go over White Avenue to Govans.”  NY Times, Col. Craft is Angry, Snub for Gen. Jones, Feb. 25, 1913

They marched into Washington, D.C. on March 3, 1913.  Brandishing signs that read, “We demand an amendment to the constitution of the United States enfranchising the women of this country.”  Although the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, was not ratified until August 18, 1920, marches like these were part of the consistent effort which finally made it a reality.

Written by Ginger Mihalik

OCA Picks The Neighborhood’s Four Best Watering Holes

In preparation, secret reviewers from the association set out on a mission to find our best local taverns.  We were looking for charm, good prices, better food and friendly service.  While some left something to be desired – our four finalists are worthy of being the highlight of our upcoming Pub Crawl on Saturday, May 8th  @ 4pm.

Without further ado, and in the order we’ll visit them, here’s the group that made the cut:

  • Elmwood Tavern: 4423 Kenwood Avenue, This friendly tavern is owned by a husband and wife team, who live in the area.  You’ll find a clean restaurant and smiling staff.  It’s warm and welcoming; with hand cut French fries and homemade boneless Buffalo wings.  Yum!
  • Ohara’s Irish Pub: 6506 Belair Road, A hidden gem in Overlea, this little bar has horseshoe pits in the summer, live music on Thursdays in the winter and several fundraisers throughout the year to help those in need.  We like this one so much – you can look for a future article with more details.  In the meantime visit www.oharasirishpub.com .
  • Buck Fowler’s Tavern: 6703 Belair Road, This little joint is the epitome of a neighborhood bar.   There’s no food, but drinks come stiff enough to melt the plastic glasses they are served in.   You’ll find a clean establishment and friendly barkeep.  Hit the ATM ahead of time – it’s cash only.
  • Overlea Station: 6900 Belair Road, Better known as the Old Della Rosa’s, Overlea Station is a long time friend of the Overlea Community Association.  New owner Mike Barnes is committed to being a part of the community and even played host to our association meetings for a year.  Well lit, open and spacious; the pleasant staff always remembers your favorite drink.

Send a $15 check or money order to the Overlea Community Association at P.O. Box 18895, Baltimore, MD  21206 to join the fun.  This also gets you a cool shirt that shows the world you think this neighborhood rocks.  Please specify your shirt size.  Check must be received by April 19th to receive a shirt in time for the crawl.

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.”