About 45 minutes from downtown Baltimore, Marriottsville has been experiencing a real estate boom, in part because of its sought-after schools.
Named after pre-Civil War Gen. Richard Marriott, the community was never incorporated and grew to include portions of the three counties. Its common denominator is its ZIP code and history.
"Marriottsville is a very sought-after area," said Scott Adolph, an agent for Remax Advantage Realty in Eldersburg. "Because it straddles three counties, people can choose between a rural or suburban setting and have a great commute to Baltimore no matter which county they choose."
Prices range from an average of $255,900 in Baltimore County to $559,000 in Howard County.
Despite the new construction, Marriottsville has a rich history. The area was along the nation's first railroad route, which provided rail service between Baltimore and in 1830.
"Marriottsville was built to be a mill area with soapstone, limestone and flint rock mills all along the Patapsco River," said Don Bondsfield, a historic researcher for the Enoch Pratt Free Library. "The first post office was built in Marriottsville in 1834 to send and receive mail by train."
Marriottsville borders Patapsco Valley State Park and the Patapsco River.
"This 18,000-acre park is connected to all three counties," said Bruce Wilkins, assistant park manager. "There are 170 miles of walking trails, horseback riding, fishing and hunting."
Marriottsville also is home to Howard County's Bon Secours Spiritual Center, which is host to 50,000 visitors a year for conferences and retreats.
Marlyn Brooks' family was one of the first to settle in the Carroll County section of Marriottsville. Her grandfather owned 160 acres, and members of the family own pieces of that estate.
When Marlyn Brooks and her husband, Ross, decided to build their home in 1974 in Marriottsville, near what is now Eldersburg, they found themselves surrounded by farmland. That setting has long been replaced by single-family suburban homes.
"It used to be so lonely here," Marlyn Brooks said. "But I love having neighbors."
The Brooks paid $42,000 to have their 1974 rancher built. They said neighbors have sold their homes in the past 12 months for $300,000 to $350,000.
"We are amazed and delighted at the prices and how quickly they sell," Marlyn Brooks said.
Houses are being built in portions of Howard and Carroll counties.
The Estates of Sand Hill in Howard County includes single-family homes on acre lots that are priced at up to $600,000, said Eric Von Swol, community sales manager for Oak Hill Properties.
The area's growth offers bittersweet memories for Marlyn Brooks, who remembers Marriottsville's history and enjoys the changes the community has undergone.
"My grandfather shipped soapstone from his quarry on the train in Marriottsville and I remember seeing eggs, produce and mail being loaded up on trains," she said.
"The one-room schoolhouse is now a church, and the mills have fallen down. The post office where my grandfather delivered mail from has been replaced. I have always been a city girl at heart, but after all this time here, I wouldn't change home."