Founded first by English settlers and soon after populated with an influx of German immigrants, the small town of Manchester thrived because of its location between Hanover, Pa., and Baltimore.
Located in northeast Carroll County, Manchester has steadily grown from a small agricultural town to a popular destination for homeowners seeking large yards in a quiet setting.
Manchester is known for its Main Street lined with local businesses and residences, but is also a ZIP code that includes vast farmland and stretches into northwest Baltimore County.
The area still offers rural charm, loads of history and open space.
Incorporated in 1834, Manchester dates back much earlier. A Lutheran church, established here in 1760, was the first place to worship in Carroll County, according to the town's Web site.
Manchester's legacy is tied closely to agriculture and at one time the town had several cigar manufacturers, said lifelong Manchester resident Julia Berwager, who at 90 years old still operates the town's historical center.
"It was a small, hometown community and everybody was part of it," said Berwager.
The historical center, open the first Sunday of every month and by appointment, is a community treasure-trove with artifacts, photographs and community relics displaying the town's history.
A state-funded streetscape project a few years back helped upgrade the town's Main Street, which offers many residents an easy walk to vital community services and businesses.
With several active social and community organizations, the town maintains a rural, tight-knit atmosphere. The annual volunteer fireman's carnival the first week of July is a big draw for families.
Redonna Genco, a resident for the past 20 years, says Manchester offers good schools, friendly neighbors and great activities, all set against the backdrop of a gorgeous country landscape.
"It's wonderful being out here. There's nothing like the country flavor," said Genco. "There's still a lot of open land. It's beautiful."
Housing Stock It's the open space and rural appeal that bring people to Manchester, say real estate agents.
There's also a diverse housing range, with many historic homes in town and on the outskirts, as well as styles that include ranchers, split-levels, new Colonials, custom-built homes, bungalows and farms throughout.
"What people like most is the rural, small-town atmosphere of the whole area," said Lynne Bare, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage and a Manchester resident. "A lot of people are looking for a bit more land and a little bit of elbow room."
The average price of a home in Manchester is about $300,000, but prices can range from $100,000 for a small, older home on Main Street and go up to more than $1 million for a new, estate home on 3 acres.
"The area changes all the time, but there's still a lot of country here," said Bare, who also serves as vice president of the Manchester Area Merchants Association.
Traditional housing developments, such as the new Hallie Hill Farm just north of town, are sprinkled throughout.
Rentals There are not many traditional opportunities for rental units in Manchester. Currently on the market are two single-family homes, starting at $2,100 a month. Many of the historic buildings in town offer apartments for rent.
Crime There's a relatively low crime rate in Manchester, according to Police Chief Gerald Gall. So far this year, there have been no major crimes, but there have been assaults, vehicle thefts and burglaries.
"We have safe neighborhoods," said Gall. "Most of our crimes are property crimes and a lot of them can be prevented."
Schools Manchester and Ebb Valley elementary schools serve the community. Manchester Elementary exceeded Maryland State Assessment proficiency levels, with fourth-graders scoring 97.9 percent proficient in math and 96.5 percent proficiency in reading. Ebb Valley Elementary is a new school that just opened this fall. Students also attend North Carroll Middle and North Carroll High schools. Both schools surpassed state proficiency levels. The schools also all met state Adequate Yearly Progress requirements, which are used to track academic progress and make accountability decisions.
Manchester Valley High School is under construction and is expected to open in the 2009-2010 school year.
Shopping A variety of services and local stores are available along Main Street. There's a Wal-Mart located just a few minutes south of Manchester. The closest mall is the Town Mall of Westminster, but Pennsylvania also attracts shoppers.
Dining in Miller's Food Market is a family-owned store known for its fresh custom-cut meats. It is not only the closest choice but also the first choice for many Manchester residents.
The town also boasts Maurer & Miller Meats, a full-service butcher that's not only a local favorite but also one that draws people from out of town as well.
Dining out Manchester offers a few local favorites, including pizza, carryout seafood and family-friendly restaurants.
The local spot for breakfast and lunch is the Dutch Corner Restaurant. Recently remodeled, it offers dining on Main Street and specials that include pork chops on Thursdays and "big fish" on Fridays.
Nightlife There's not much in the way of nightlife in Manchester, but Westminster is only a short drive away.
Recreation There's ample opportunity for residents to enjoy the great outdoors in Manchester.
Charlotte's Quest Nature Center and Pine Valley Park offer 60 acres of open space and more than four miles of trails. Christmas Tree Park is a family favorite, with 82 acres of playgrounds, fields, pavilions and open space. It's adjacent to the summer hot spot, the Lineboro-Manchester Lions Club Swimming Pool.
River Valley Ranch, a nonprofit, nondenominational Christian camp, sponsors many outdoor events, including a fall "maizefest" every weekend in October.
The North Carroll Senior and Community Center, just south of town, provides indoor recreation with plenty of classes and services.
manchester by the numbers ZIP code: 21102
Homes on the market: 97
Average sale price: $301,000*
Average days on the market: 147*
*Information based on sales during the past 18 months, complied by Lynne Bare of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Hampstead and Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc.