Close community is steeped in lore, deep in family ties

In today's hectic, go-go society, it's been easy for many communities to evolve into a neighborhood of transients.

But go to Glyndon and what you'll find is a neighborhood where it seems that everybody knows everybody. It's a community with deep roots in Baltimore County lore, being the first county community to be listed -- 1981, by the County Council -- as a historic community. Glyndon, in the western part of the county, is sprinkled with families who go back four or five generations.

"Glyndon is one of the few places that still have that feeling of community," said Eleanor Taylor. "There is such a small turnover here."

Much has stayed the same in Glyndon since Dr. Charles Aleas, Baltimore City's first health officer, decided to plan the community in 1871 on land he purchased in the late 1860s. It originally was a summer community for Baltimore's wealthy looking to escape the hot summers of the city. Many lived in extravagant Victorian homes, while others lived in Emory Grove -- a small group of 45 to 50 cottages that today remain as homes to many residents.

Originally called Reisterstown Station, the community was renamed Glyndon in 1879 after the town had a drawing for the name and selected the Scottish name Glyn. It then experienced a population growth after the Western Maryland Railroad was extended to the area in 1895, connecting it to Baltimore.

"Most people took the train from Baltimore to Glyndon just for a vacation in the summer. Then they came in the winter, and eventually just decided to stay," said Velma Enza, 76, a Realtor for O'Conor, Piper & Flynn ERA in Reisterstown and a life-long Glyndon resident.

During the population boom at the turn of the century came a growth in community organizations, many of which are in place today. The Women's Club of Glyndon was formed in 1900; the Glyndon Volunteer Fire Company has been in existence since 1904. Also, since 1931 residents have spent their summers relaxing at the Glyndon Swim Club.

However, it is not cheap to live in Glyndon. Enza said homes in the area can sell between $200,000 and $300,000.

"Even if they are fixer-uppers, people are still buying them up just because it is in Glyndon," she said.

Since its birth more than 120 years ago, Glyndon has prided itself on a small-town feel that many people are searching for. But, the area's extreme popularity has led to more people living in Glyndon over the last decade. This has led to a boom of new homes in recent years for the historic district.

Homes in Welsche's Cradle, a community of two-story Victorian-style homes off Sacred Heart Lane, sell for prices between $170,000 and $200,000. The 3-year-old development, with homes ranging from 1,900 to 2,400 square feet, had its last new home sold in August, said Sandy Hinsche, a sales representative with Ryan Homes Inc., builder and developer of the community.

"There was an attraction to that area because of its closeness to the Sacred Heart Church and school," Hinsche said. "There were a few restrictions we had during construction because of Glyndon's historic designation, but other than that, everything went well."

It was the closeness of the church and school that brought Janice and Bruce Norris to Welsche's Cradle in July. Originally from Owings Mills, the Norrises wanted to enroll their 5-year-old son in the Sacred Heart School.

"It's a very quiet community," said Janice Norris, 40. "I was surprised how rural of a feeling there is here."

Other Colonial-style developments, such as Glyndon Meadows and Glyndon Mews -- with average prices in the mid-$200,000 -- have enjoyed success.

"Anything built in Glyndon has to keep up with the historic design of the community, so you won't see any split-foyers or contemporaries built there," said Terri Gutcher, a Realtor for Re/Max Advantage Realty in Reisterstown.

People have flocked to Glyndon in such great numbers that new homes are being purchased before the model home has been built. This is true with Glyndon Watch, a planned community by Regional Homes that will have 28 single-family homes on Glyndon Drive off Bond Avenue.

"We have sold five [homes], and we are still in dirt," said Craig E. Hyatt, a broker with Pinnacle Real Estate Co. "We plan on having people living in some of the homes by early summer."

Before starting the project, Hyatt said, he took into consideration the housing density of the area.

"We did not feel that over-saturation would be a problem because of the amount of buildable land that exists," he said. "We don't feel there are enough homes here to be considered overabundant, because there is such a strong desire to live here."

Not everyone has the same opinion about the rapid expansion of Glyndon. Beverly Potts has lived in the community for 35 years and said the new developments never seem to end.

"Every time you think there isn't any more land to develop you see more houses popping up," said Potts, a sales associate with Coldwell Banker Grempler Realty Inc. "Even though I'm in the real estate business, I don't think that all of these new homes are good for the community, because there is such a strong resale business here as well.

"You have to fight harder and harder today to keep that hometown-feel going in Glyndon," Potts said.

George and Jean Wroe know a lot about the growth of Glyndon. George Wroe's family has lived in Glyndon since 1900 when his great-grandfather, Frank Catesby Wroe, began summering in Glyndon with his family. An agent for the Western Maryland Railroad, Frank Wroe would take a train from Bolton Hill to Glyndon and then take a wagon to Emory Grove, according to "The Story of Glyndon" by Myrtle S. Eckhardt.

George, 68, and Jean Wroe, 62, raised their four children in Glyndon. For the past 38 years, the couple have lived in a Victorian home originally owned by Dr. Thomas Rowe Price -- one of Glyndon's original residents. Price's son, also named Thomas Rowe, founded the national mutual fund company of the same name.

The Rowes' 4,900-square-foot home, which sits on 2.5 acres on Butler Road, has been in the family since 1942 when George Wroe's father, Phillip, purchased it for about $10,000, mainly for the natural clay tennis court on the property. George Wroe had the home recently appraised for $350,000.

Even as Glyndon seems to be heading in the same direction as other growing communities, the residents still are able to come together for the benefit of their hometown.

One example was the possible loss of the old Glyndon post office. Originally, the century-old building was the site of the Glyndon train station. After trains stopped coming through Glyndon in 1967, the post office was opened.

However, in June the owner of the station said he was selling it. Because of the historic designation of the town, it couldn't be torn down, but prospective owners were unlikely to rent the site to the U.S. Postal Service.

That's when the community, led by Jean Wroe and Nan Kaestner, Taylor's daughter, went into action. The two got 30 families to put up $3,000 each to purchase the station.

The two longtime residents then formed the Glyndon Train Station LLC in August that provided a $120,000 down payment. The station will cost about $200,000.

"Everything is going fine so far," said George Wroe, who is volunteering to help with the electrical repairs, plumbing and other maintenance of the station. "There was more than enough people in the area who were willing to help."


Commuting time to downtown Baltimore: 40 minutes

Public schools: Franklin and Glyndon Elementary schools, Franklin Middle School, Franklin High School

Shopping: Owings Mills Mall, Chartley Shopping Center, Reisterstown Shopping Center, Santoni Square

Average listing price: $344,400*

Average sales price: $319,704*

Average days on market: 165*

*Based on 22 sales in the last 24 months as recored by the Metropolitan Regional Information System.

ZIP code: 21071

Recommended on Baltimore Sun