Editor’s note: The Stonewood-Pentwood-Winston profile is one article in The Sun’s City of Neighborhoods series, spotlighting Baltimore communities. Other neighborhoods in the series: Upton, Mount Winans.
Forty-five years ago, Carolyn Jasper and her husband bought their first home, a neat, two-story brick rowhouse in Stonewood-Pentwood-Winston. They never left. Why move? Everything Jasper needs (peace and quiet) is here, and what she doesn’t need (crime and commercialism) is not. There’s not a fast food joint or gas station to be found in the modest middle-class neighborhood in Northeast Baltimore.
“There is nothing to do here but tend your garden or sit on the porch and swat the mosquitoes — and that’s not a bad thing,” said Jasper, 73, a retired Social Security worker. “There’s not much traffic, people look out for one another, and many homes are handed down through generations. It’s almost like a gated community, a little gem right in the middle of the city.”
It’s a deep-rooted, if aging enclave of 238 residences, most of them row homes like that owned by Frank Cherry, who settled here in 1974.
“Never thought of leaving,” said Cherry, 81, a retired postal worker and president of the Stonewood-Pentwood-Winston Neighborhood Association. “We raised two kids here. It was real nice then; we had block captains and neighborhood cookouts and such. And it’s OK now, though I wish the younger people moving in would step up and get involved. Us old folks are dwindling.”
Most homes date from the early 1950s when the city began to stretch north during the post-World War II baby boom. Built by the Roland Park Co. for whites only, it integrated in the late 1960s. The neighborhood is named for the three main streets that run parallel through it, east to west.
Tucked away in Northeast Baltimore, SPW is bordered on both sides by busy thoroughfares (Hillen Road and Loch Raven Boulevard) and on the north and south by city parks (Chinquapin and Pentwood). At least, those are the boundaries set by the neighborhood association. The city claims the community extends south to Cold Spring Lane and includes that area in its demographic data.
Things to do
Outside entertainment is lacking. There are no stores or bars here. From the start 70 years ago, SPW banned business establishments, an anomaly that cuts both ways.
“It’s a very quiet neighborhood and incredibly stable, though it lacks the amenities that give one cause to walk around and foster a stronger sense of community,” said Ryan Dorsey, city councilman for the area. It does abut a playground at the Lois T. Murray Elementary/Middle School for special needs students. And the Morgan State campus is right across Hillen Road.
The community’s population was 1,405 in the 2000 Census, according to an analysis by Baltimore’s planning department. In 2018, Stonewood-Pentwood-Winston’s median household income was $47,208, a little under the city’s median household income of $50,379. Its unemployment rate (12%) was considerably higher than the city at large (7%). The median home sales price from 2017-2019 was a little over $90,000.
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Most residents commute by car; the Jones Falls Expressway (I-83) is 15 minutes away. Stonewood-Pentwood-Winston’s walkability score ranks 50 out of 100, according to Live Baltimore. Those Morgan State students who rent in the neighborhood have a short walk to classes. The MTA services Loch Raven Boulevard and Cold Spring Lane.
Residents complain of outsiders dumping trash in Chinquapin Park, along Winston Avenue.
“People back their trucks up, hit the brakes and drop the tailgate,” Dorsey said. “Because of the steep [decline], they figure what’s out of sight is out of mind. But the city has no budget for cleaning that stuff up.”
Parking issues come and go. While the Morgan State garage has stopped students from hogging the streets, homeowners still gripe about the shaggy, unpruned trees that hinder parking along Winston Avenue.
Frank Cherry, Stonewood Pentwood Winston Neighborhood Association president; Ryan Dorsey, (D), Baltimore City Council, District 3.