What made the neighborhood of Ridgeleigh attractive to Charles and Ruth Walsh almost 40 years ago is what keeps them there today.
"This was our first home after we moved out of an apartment. We raised seven children in this house. We liked that we could walk to church, to the supermarket and to shopping," said Charles Walsh. "We didn't have a car when we first moved out here and it was on the bus line. It had all the conveniences of the city but it was in the county."
Made up of about 1,100 rowhouses, Ridgeleigh is bordered by Loch Raven Boulevard on the west, Putty Hill Avenue on the south, Oakleigh Road on the east and Yakona Road on the north. Although the homes appear as if they are brick, they actually are concrete block and plaster covered with brick veneer.
The availability of numerous amenities within walking distance brings to mind city life, even though the neighborhood is only minutes from Loch Raven Reservoir. Ridgeleigh also has a camaraderie that is difficult to match, residents say.
"I tell everyone it's like 'Cheers,'" said Charles Walsh. "Ruth and I can walk up and down the streets, and everyone calls us by name and we call them by name. I don't think I could handle moving anywhere else; it just wouldn't work for us."
While the neighborhood still has several longtime residents, Walsh said, a new infusion of young families has begun.
"It seems like a lot of people have moved in the past few years. How the neighborhood is now reminds me of 1960 when we first moved in. When we moved here, there were kids all over the place and that's how it is now. Which to me is just great to see."
Ridgeleigh, also known as "The Oaks" because of the oak reference found in almost all of the neighborhood's street names, has much to offer young couples.
Developed in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the neighborhood is thought to be associated with the Ridgelys of Hampton Mansion. Although not contiguous to the mansion, the neighborhood once was part of property that belonged to heirs of the Ridgely estate.
The neighborhood's rowhouses remain very affordable. They range in price from $68,000 to $84,000. The homes offer two or three bedrooms, one to two bathrooms and basements.
Because the homes were developed in different stages by different developers, they are not all alike when it comes to heating systems, roof styles and lot sizes.
Typical lots vary from 1,500 square feet to more than 3,500 square feet. Perfect for homeowners who don't want to spend a lot of time on yardwork. That was one feature that attracted John and Anne Morgan to Ridgeleigh 44 years ago.
"We didn't want a big single-family home that required a lot of work," said Anne Morgan. "And this neighborhood was very convenient. It's also a nice place to live because of the people. Our neighbors were the best when we moved here, and they still are. If you needed anything, they would drop what they were doing and come and help."
The convenience of the neighborhood keeps it an attractive choice for homebuyers.
"It's just a great location. You're five minutes from [Interstate] 83, five minutes from the Beltway and five minutes from Towson Town," said Monica Wills, a real estate agent with the Timonium office of Long and Foster Real Estate Inc. "I also see a lot of new people moving in, both young couples and single parents. You can see the younger people moving in and remodeling."
Putting a new spin on an older neighborhood has produced changes such as replacing backyard porches with decks.
"That's the fun thing, to see the resurgence of the house," Wills said. "They are nicely built, solid homes made of real products and real wood. The beauty of that type of home is regardless of what happens to it, it can always be brought back."
The school district and neighborhood park are also attractions for young families. Pablo and Jacqueline Sainz moved into Ridge- leigh just more than two years ago and have been delighted with the tightness of the neighborhood.
"We liked the quietness of the neighborhood and we liked the close-knit feeling," said Sainz, who grew up in the city. "It does have sort of a city feel to it because of the rowhomes. ... We also like to sit out on the porch and talk to one another, and that's how it was growing up in the city."
Sainz is head of the community's Citizens on Patrol, but he says that most of the time the atmosphere is peaceful.
"The Citizens on Patrol is active in the neighborhood, but there's not a lot of crime here," he said.
Sainz also likes the beauty of the neighborhood, especially this time of year when the leaves begin to turn color and, in December, when Christmas lights illuminate the neighborhood.
"During Christmas, we do get quite a few visitors who drive through to look at the light displays," Sainz said.
What attracted Andrew Clemens to Ridgeleigh nine years ago was the housing value as well as the diversity, which he views as one the area's "strong points."
"We run the whole range between people just starting out to families with children to even a few original homeowners," said Clemens, who has served as the Ridge- leigh Community Association president for the past seven years. "One thing that is important is it's a real diverse neighborhood in terms of our racial mix, and we like that."
Commuting time to downtown Baltimore: 25 minutes
Public schools: Oakleigh Elementary, Pine Grove Middle, Loch Raven Technical Academy, Loch Raven High, Parkville High
Shopping: Towson Market Place, Towson Town Center, Ravenwood Shopping Center, Loch Raven Plaza, Perring Plaza, North Plaza