The 1830s saw a "Franklin Towne" planned by William H. Freeman, a prominent Baltimore landowner -- but it didn't get off the paper because of a bank failure.

Still, a leafy hamlet has grown up around what started as a gristmill along Dead Run, where Freeman envisioned his suburban oasis. Parts of Franklintown are recognized as local and national historic districts, and the former millhouse is a private home. The neighborhood is hidden between Leakin Park to the east and Security Boulevard to the west, just north of the tip of Interstate 70.

Mostly in the city, Franklintown straddles the Baltimore City-Baltimore County line. Schools, programs and government services vary depending on a home's location in a landscape notable for towering trees and an award-winning community garden. A landscaping project a few years ago added dogwoods and native plants to Dogwood Road, which runs along the stream.

"We're so convenient to the Beltway and [I-]70, and yet it's a real quiet neighborhood," said Jack Lattimore, a former president of the community association.

Kernan Hospital, where the association meets and has held events, is to the north.

Franklintown is a mix of housing, plus a few businesses. Single-family homes of assorted vintages include stone and wood houses of the 1800s, Victorians, bungalows from the early 1900s, newer Cape Cods and modern structures. Two rental complexes totaling more than 300 townhouses and apartments sit on the hillside.

Change is coming: Ashman's Hope, a cul-de-sac of new single-family homes and one renovation, is being built.

A local partnership is planning a mixed-use development based on Freeman's original layout, which features new construction and renovation of the now-boarded up mill warehouse.

Crime is low within Franklintown, which has a Citizens on Patrol unit, said Sam Speesler, a resident who was a former COP leader. Cameras are outside the community by the intersection of Windsor Mill Road and Forest Park Avenue.

Neighborhood city schools are Dickey Hill, an elementary and middle public school, where students tested below most statewide results in reading and math, according to state data. Residents can choose which city high school their children attend. In the county, neighborhood schools are Edmondson Heights Elementary, Southwest Academy Middle and Woodlawn High, where state assessment scores were below state averages, according to online data.

The Carrie Murray Nature Center, on the city side, offers many children's programs. Sports leagues are popular, and which ones children sign up for depends on whether they live on the city or county side.

Franklintown is a few minutes drive from the Baltimore Beltway and Route 40. Public transportation includes MTA buses nearby and MARC train stations in Halethorpe and West Baltimore; long-range plans include transit to Woodlawn.

Residents typically grocery shop at chain supermarkets on Route 40 and in Woodlawn. A seasonal farmers' market near the Social Security Administration is popular for produce.

In addition to the Franklintown Inn and the Bullwinkle's Saloon in the community, residents head to Route 40 and beyond for food and drink.

Franklintown Inn and Bullwinkle's provide some entertainment. There's also the Millstream Inn, a gentlemen's club.

Leakin Park has ball fields and tennis courts; it also offers miniature train rides. Gwynns Falls Park is home to an extensive trail network. Patapsco Valley State Park lies to the west. Diamond Ridge, the Woodlands and Forest Park municipal golf courses are nearby.

www.franklin town.net

andrea.siegel@baltsun.com