Fowblesburg has welcomed travelers to its friendly crossroads for almost 200 years.
A cluster of buildings on Route 30, five miles north of Reisterstown, on the cusp of Carroll County, the village began in the early 1800s because travelers would stop to give horses an overnight rest there.
This was a commercial corridor, and Fowblesburg offered respite 20 miles out of Baltimore and halfway to Hanover, Pa.
In Colonial days, several taverns sheltered drivers and passengers of the horse-drawn stagecoaches and produce wagons that traveled Old Hanover Road. Flocks of turkeys and sheep were kept overnight in nearby fields on their way to market.
The Fringer homestead of Victorian brick and green shutters was built on the foundation of one such tavern, called the Blueball.
This house, just north of the crossroads, is opposite the Spring Meadows Farms produce market, where today customers order ice cream and feed farm animals on the former stable grounds of the Blueball tavern.
Modern travelers are welcome in Fowblesburg at Elmo's Luncheonette, where blueberry pancakes, homemade hash browns and other hearty breakfast items are served from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. The town still has the only motel between Reisterstown and Hanover.
"Fowblesburg is where you find peace and serenity. It's a quaint little village where people know each other. They keep keys to each other's houses. They help in sickness, in animal care. It's all swapped back and forth," according to Jim Lankford Sr.
He and his wife, Janice, built a two-story house on Old Hanover Road in 1976. Janice was raised in Lineboro, 10 miles to the north. His family had lived in Boring, one mile south, since 1957.
The Lankfords chose Fowblesburg to raise two sons, with its easy commute to the Garrison station of the Baltimore County Fire Department. Jim, 47, recently retired as an emergency medical services lieutenant; he operates a lawn-care business.
His sons have become volunteer firemen. Jim Lankford Jr., 21, is a captain and son Joe, 19, is a third lieutenant with the Boring Volunteer Fire Company. Jim Jr. recently purchased a two-bedroom bungalow on a third of an acre across the road from his dad.
For about $80,000, he got a cozy fixer-upper. Like many homes here, it dates from the 1950s, with hardwood floors and attractive details such as arched doorways, a three-sided bay window in the kitchen, and a small fireplace. The Lankfords have chosen to gradually upgrade the electric and the old cast-iron plumbing, apply new paint, and call it home.
The average two- or three-bedroom home in Fowblesburg includes about 2 acres and lists for about $140,000.
There are, however, exceptions.
A large custom log home has been tucked into the wooded executive-style neighborhood on Eastview Drive. A four-bedroom Colonial with 85 acres on Emory Road is currently listed for $629,500. And, two homes under $100,000 were among five homes settled in the past 12 months.
The hub of Fowblesburg is the crossroads of Hanover Pike (Route 30) and Emory Road (Route 91). Elmo's Luncheonette, High's convenience store, Fowblesburg Motors, and Farmer's and Merchants Bank anchor the four corners.
Farmer's and Merchant's Bank, for years the smallest bank in Maryland, is proud to be one of the last independent banks in the state. The bank was begun in 1920 by Ernest Wooden, a dairy farmer from nearby Woodensburg. He didn't want his neighbors to travel five miles to the closest bank. The original safe was about the size of a television set.
The bank now has two branch offices, the farthest, ironically, five miles away.
Sharon Aberts, 51, is the bank's corporate secretary. Her father, Emerson Barnes, was chief cashier at the bank for 21 years. When she and her brother were growing up, Fowblesburg was known for its roller skating rink and classmates wore their 4-H jackets to Franklin High School.
"This was the sticks," said Aberts. "Now this is the suburbs. Fowblesburg is like any hometown neighborhood, an ideal place to raise children. There are still no large housing developments."
Years ago, the bank moved from its first tiny brick building on Old Hanover Road. It's now in the former Hoffman's grocery on Hanover Pike, a local landmark where two sisters, May and Grace Hoffman, offered everything from soup to jewelry, clothing to toys. The store has been substantially remodeled.
"If you couldn't find it anyplace else, you could get it at Hoffman's," said Aberts, who remembers getting free candy as a child from "Miss May" at the door.
"We're in the produce section," Aberts mused, sitting at her rosewood desk. "Our tellers stand where the Sugar Pops were shelved. Meats became the loan department."
Entertainment in Fowblesburg is of the neighborly sort. Sportsman's Hall was the place for families to roller skate. Aberts recalls a childhood of skating three or four times a week. The roller rink is being rebuilt after being leveled by fire four years ago.
Bingo is also a favorite; people go a mile south to the Boring Fire Hall for nightly games. One mile north, the Arcadia fire company hosts Native American pow-wows, steam engine shows, demolition derbies, and bluegrass festivals. These events draw thousands of out-of-town spectators who bring traffic to a halt on Hanover Pike.
Finally there's the tollgate house. About 200 years ago, maintenance for the Hanover Pike depended on tolls. This tollgate house -- since used as a residence -- hugs the shoulder of the highway where it still stops vehicles. It's a reminder of this village's roots.
Commuting time to downtown Baltimore: 20 minutes.
Public schools: Franklin Elementary, Franklin Middle, Franklin High.
Nearest mall: Owings Mills Mall.
Zip Code: 21155.
Average price for a single-family home: $139, 580*
*Based on five sales during the past 12 months through Mid-Atlantic Real Estate Information Technologies' multiple listing service.
Pub Date: 12/29/96