Rising Sun: a small town with some big advantages

Thank you for supporting our journalism. This article is available exclusively for our subscribers, who help fund our work at The Baltimore Sun.

When David and Mary Peters went shopping for a home six years ago, the low prices in Rising Sun kept attracting them to the Cecil County town.

The couple, who have three children, looked at homes in Baltimore and Harford counties before finding the four-bedroom split foyer in Rising Sun. The house, which sits on 1 1/3 acres in a quiet neighborhood, is much different from the Baltimore home the family left.

"We decided we could definitely get more for our money up here," Mary Peters said.

Residents of Rising Sun, a bedroom community, said they enjoy their rural surroundings knowing that jobs, cultural events and other attractions are nearby in Baltimore, Wilmington, Del., and Philadelphia. The tradeoff is the commute. A MARC train stop in nearby Perryville is one option, but most commuters battle Interstate 95 traffic to get to work.

David Peters, an industrial mechanic at the International Steel Group in Sparrows Point, commutes an hour each way to work.

"But when we found this house, he decided it was worth it," said Mary Peters, a cashier at a Harford County grocery store.

Charlotte Lowe, a real estate agent for Century 21 Towne Centre, said an increasing number of people are moving to the Rising Sun area from Baltimore, Delaware and Pennsylvania to take advantage of the lower prices, the country life and the availability of new homes.

About 700 homes are planned or under construction, Rising Sun Mayor Judith M. Cox said.

Rising Sun, named for the 18th-century tavern The Rising Sun, is in Cecil County in northeast Maryland, about six miles from Interstate 95. It was part of Pennsylvania until the Mason-Dixon line was established (1763 to 1767).

The town was incorporated in 1860, and growth began to accelerate when the Baltimore Central Railroad began to serve it several years later.

"Development has been very gradual, but recently there's been a sudden boom," said Cox, who moved to the area with her husband 36 years ago. "Developers have finally discovered Rising Sun."

Growth controls

The population is 1,702 according to the 2000 census, up from 1,263 in 1990, and town officials are taking steps to control growth and improve the infrastructure, Cox said. A new $1 million water tower was built recently, and new water and sewer lines are being installed.

The average price of existing homes in the past 12 months was $195,757, said Deborah Cain, executive director of the Cecil County Board of Realtors. Many new homes are selling for much more than that.

Gemcraft Homes is building the Maple Heights development in Rising Sun, which will include 20 single-family houses, 41 townhouses and 28 duplexes, said Dale Hevesy, a Gemcraft vice president. Houses are a little more than $200,000. Gemcraft's Walnut Manor development in Rising Sun recently sold out, he said.

"In Baltimore County and Harford County, [land is] getting exceedingly limited," said Hevesy. "Cecil County has become a viable option."

Despite the development, some things haven't changed.

"Rising Sun is still a unique, quiet little town," said Bob Cameron, a resident since 1947 and a longtime member of the Rising Sun Business Association.

Part of the association's mission is to maintain the town's atmosphere, Cameron said.

"You still have that hometown feeling," said Jack Goldstein, who moved to Rising Sun four years ago from Alexandria, Va. "Today I had lunch at Sue's Restaurant, and I can sit there and I know everyone who comes in and have a conversation. It's more of an event than it is lunch."

The sense of community in Rising Sun is apparent at events such as the annual fishing derby, to be held May 1 this year, and Sunfest, scheduled for the first weekend in June, Cox said.

Main Street, which runs through the center of town, is the business hub. But even there the rolling countryside and silos can ben seen. And it's not uncommon to see the horse-drawn buggies of Amish families from nearby Pennsylvania.

Some of Rising Sun's more unusual residents include a giraffe, a Siberian tiger and an American black bear, three of more than 300 animals at the 110-acre Plumpton Park Zoo on Telegraph Road.

'New opportunities'

Goldstein, a former investment banker, said he was seeking a better quality of life for his family when they moved to Rising Sun. Goldstein, head of National Bank of Rising Sun, lives with his wife and five of their seven children outside the town limits on a 2 1/2 -acre horse farm with a pond.

"We're close enough to friends and still able to go to cultural events in the metropolitan areas," he said, "but yet have found new opportunities here culturally and entertainment-wise that are as good as the metropolitan areas."