Tag Archives: “Baltimore neighborhoods”

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.

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.

Off to Overlea, Where Home Prices Aren’t Through the Roof

Living here has been fun, but it’s time to go.

The decision didn’t come easily. I’ve lived in the District for most
of my life. When I was in elementary school, my family lived in a
one-bedroom apartment in Palisades. During college, I shared a
Georgetown rowhouse with four students and two dogs. Later, I rented
rooms in Columbia Heights and Petworth. I’ve learned how the streets
are set up and where the Metro runs and can identify most of the
city’s neighborhoods. I have friends and favorite hangouts here. And
for the past four years, I’ve owned a two-bedroom cottage in
Woodridge.

Buying my first house at age 24 was both terrifying and empowering. It
remains the most grown-up thing I’ve ever done. As I signed the papers
for the 30-year loan, I couldn’t help thinking the bankers were
suckers for expecting me to live that long. I was at once worried
about termites and inspections and elated by the idea of putting up
whatever posters I damn well wanted in the living room.

But four years later, the house is still a fixer-upper. The bathroom
is missing some tiles. My bedroom walls are dotted with spackle. The
insulated music room in the basement features exposed fiberglass
between the studs. Water seeps in during periods of heavy rain. One of
the front gutters sticks out at a funny angle. You get the idea.

About six months ago, I saw a poster at the Farragut North Metro
station comparing a window box to a huge lawn to illustrate the vast
difference between real estate prices in Washington and Baltimore. I
visited the Web site www.livebaltimore.com and couldn’t believe what I
saw. The average price of houses sold in Baltimore City last year was
$131,000. Baltimore County ran a little higher at $233,000. In D.C.,
the Web site said, the average was a whopping $450,000.

I’ve never lived there, but I visit Baltimore frequently to attend and
play punk shows. There seems to be a greater availability of live
rock-and-roll there, and the price of beer at the bars is always a few
bucks cheaper. If I could find a nicer house there, I thought, I
wouldn’t be missing too much in D.C. other than the convenience of a
shorter commute.

While researching Baltimore neighborhoods (which is incredibly easy to
do online, thanks to data provided by the Baltimore Neighborhood
Indicators Alliance at www.bnia.org), I still didn’t fully appreciate
how much I could afford there because I didn’t know what my D.C. house
was worth. I bought it for $119,000 in 2001 and refinanced in 2003 for
$150,000. It might have jumped a little since then, I thought, so I
asked a neighbor, who is a real estate agent. She guessed she could
sell it “as is” for $250,000. After just one weekend on the market, I
accepted an offer for $271,000.

The man I’m selling to is about my age. He is fortunate to be able to
afford something in this city’s tough real estate market. If I had
waited to buy, I wouldn’t have been able to afford any livable house
in this city. Certainly not my house.

The District is not as friendly an environment for low-income and
young adult home buyers as it was when I purchased. Although
government loans are still available to help cover closing costs and
down payments, getting a mortgage on a D.C. house has become nearly
impossible on entry- and lower-level salaries.

But just 50 miles up Route 1, $200,000 will get you at least four
bedrooms in a comparable neighborhood. No repairs needed. By putting
most of my proceeds into a down payment, I’ll end up with twice the
house for the same mortgage. I’ll also rent out bedrooms, which means
in theory I could make more in rent than I spend on the mortgage.

Who could resist that?

Tomorrow I settle on a four-bedroom Colonial in Overlea with a
wrap-around porch and a waterproof basement.

Goodbye, D.C., and thanks for the memories.

Carrie Donovan is an editorial aide at The Washington Post and sings
for the Revelevens. She has been a District resident for about 20
years. Previously published in the Washington Post.

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.”