Eastport: the other side of Annapolis

Eastport is often referred to as the other side of Annapolis.

But if you ask a group of Eastporters, they will tell you Annapolis is the other side of Eastport.

That's because while Eastport may not be as well known as its famous neighbor, anyone who lives on the peninsula knows Eastport has it all and more.

"If life had not changed at all after the first day of living in Eastport, I would have been perfectly happy. But the longer I live here, the better and better it gets," said Carey Kirk, who moved to Eastport in 1997. "It's remarkable. It's an extremely rewarding place to live. The people are terrific and if you're interested in boating at all, it's the place to be."

Boating is exactly why Kirk, who owns a boat interior decorating business, came to move to Eastport from Washington.

"I moved my business here first and I would commute to Eastport on the weekends. I was always so unhappy to leave that I just ended up moving here fulltime."

Eastport is sandwiched between Spa Creek, across from historic Annapolis, and Back Creek. Eastport has been referred to as the working man's side of Annapolis.

While it still offers a casual, relaxed way of life where million-dollar homes adjoin boatyards and cottages, the real estate in Eastport is not within everyone's reach.

"It's such a hot area right now because it's within walking distance to downtown Annapolis and it has so much charisma," said Phyllis Naditch, an agent with O'Conor, Piper & Flynn ERA. "In the early 1970s you could still get something cheap, but by the '90s, it became very strong and expensive."

The homes in Eastport offer an eclectic mix that includes Colonials, Victorians, contemporaries, cottages, duplexes, condominiums and townhouses.

The Maryland Commission on Neighborhoods named Eastport one of 10 outstanding Maryland neighborhoods in 1995.

"People think they can get into Eastport for a lot cheaper than Annapolis, but in truth that's no longer the case," Naditch said. "Most of the people who come here, unless they are from California, New York or Massachusetts, are pretty much in sticker shock."

A renovated two-bedroom cottage home can easily sell in the $300,000 range, she said. And it is not uncommon to find houses not on the water selling in the $400,000 to $500,000 range.

Homes currently on the market include a 96-year-old Victorian for $475,000, a contemporary with winter water views for $579,900 and a 1910 two-bedroom, one-bathroom cottage for $159,000.

Jim and Lauren Winning were lucky to find one of the last building lots in Eastport five years ago.

Both have a love of history and originally searched for a home in downtown Annapolis. When they were unable to find one, they went for the waterfront in Eastport.

"We had never lived on the water before so we were somewhat ignorant about how much fun it is," said Lauren Winning. "Now that we are settled here, it's almost inconceivable to think of not having water in our back yard. We even own a kayak now."

Eastport offers not only cultural and historical attractions, but also diversity in housing and population, she said.

"We came from living in Bowie where one builder built all the houses. When we first drove through Eastport, we loved that every house is so different," she said. "In many communities the residents are the same age and from the same income bracket. Here it's a whole mix."

The community has managed to maintain much of its ambience over the years, says Peg Wallace, a community leader who moved to Eastport in the 1970s.

"It's a big community full of people and dogs - everybody walks everywhere here. It attracts those who want to be in a comfortable community where they can raise their kids and walk to downtown," said Wallace, who is also a real estate agent with Champion Realty in Annapolis.

"Most people move here and burn their expensive clothes because jeans and Top-Siders are all you wear."

In fact, says Wallace, when the local museum for which she serves as chairman throws a social event the dress code is referred to as "Eastport Casual."

"It means you have to wear shoes," Wallace said.

Eastport was settled in 1665 and remained mostly farmland until the 1800s. With the establishment of the U.S. Naval Academy in 1845, the area was developed to house workers. And in 1868 a group of private developers subdivided the peninsula into about 250 building lots.

Also in 1868, the first bridge to connect the area with Annapolis was built across Spa Creek. Before the bridge, Eastport residents relied on barges to take them across.

During the late 1800s many white families settled along Spa Creek while a large community of African-American families settled along Back Creek. In 1950, the independent town of Eastport officially became part of the City of Annapolis.

Maritha Carroll, now 79, was born and raised in Eastport as a member of the neighborhood's African-American community.

"I think when you have so many families that have continued to stay and live in the area, it says something for the community," she said.


Commute to downtown Baltimore: 40 minutes

Public schools: Eastport Elementary, Annapolis Middle, Annapolis High

Shopping: Annapolis Mall, Annapolis Plaza, Bay Ridge and Eastport centers, downtown

ZIP code: 21403

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