Some people may think that Frizzellburg in Carroll County has an identity crisis.
The area was founded by a Scottish blacksmith named Nimrod Frizell. That's Frizell with a single "z." But somewhere along the way an additional "z" found its way onto state maps, highway signs and, eventually, shops and businesses.
Other places of business, however, remain true to the Frizell namesake. But regardless of one "z" or two, this is a town that is at complete ease with itself.
"This is a beautiful town," said Thelma Coleman, 79, who, like everyone here, it seems, is delighted to live in a town that hasn't grown much since the 1950s. About 70 families reside in the heart of Frizzellburg, living in homes built seemingly to last forever. Typically, a Frizzellburg home has a log structure hidden behind modern walls which are meticulously maintained down to the neatly trimmed flower beds and backyard vegetable gardens.
The town, defined by road signs on either end along Old Taneytown Road, has a more suburban feel away from the main crossroads, where recent ranchers and split-foyer homes have sprouted between the older farmhouses in the outskirts.
On Old Frizzellburg Road, Lottie Drive is a new street -- with three houses -- so far named for the former storekeeper, Lottie Rhoten. Another newer cul-de-sac of large country homes overlooks a barley field and wild poppies.
"Frizzellburg has already been bypassed, and its environment can't be impacted for development," said Laura Turner, who moved more than 16 years ago to a former Victorian brick inn in the heart of town.
Parallel to Old Taneytown Road, which is Frizzellburg's quiet main street, is Taneytown Pike, or Route 140, the two-lane highway bypassing the town. Most traffic never finds its way here.
Nimrod Frizell attracted travelers to his tavern, inn and general store built around 1814 on Old Taneytown Road -- in those years a 14-foot-wide plank road made of 12-by-10-inch planed logs.
Lucy McNeir and husband Joe Caouette purchased the Frizell house in 1976, "with an idealistic view," said McNeir. "I wanted to restore an old house, and in this we saw possibilities."
The possibilities existed beyond the paved corner of the yard with unused gas pumps; the pink, or black enamel, paint everywhere inside the house; and the bathroom shower installed in the living room in front of the original blown-glass windows. "Luckily, you forget some of these things," said McNeir, who is a graphic designer and teaches at the Maryland Institute, College of Art.
The restoration the couple created is a step back in time.
The few electric outlets are hidden -- candles and windows provide light.
Plaster and lathe ceilings, the handwork of Caouette, have been toned with Williamsburg paints.
In the tavern room (created as in Nimrod Frizell's day), Caouette, who works at CMC Computers Inc. by day, hand-planed the wooden chair rail to match dimensions elsewhere in the house, and designed a primitive country bar to hold blown glass jugs.
They searched beneath the modern wood floors to rediscover the original random-width pine floors. "To me, that's character," McNeir said.
This tavern, followed by two others in town, led to early maps showing "Frizells," and later, "Frizellburg."
Current maps spell it with a double "z."
"We get it every way. You do it the way you want," Coleman said diplomatically.
McNeir, following the town seal, and antiques dealer Laura Turner, both agree on a single "z."
Regardless, they say, the mail gets delivered.
For almost two decades, residents have played host to a public event in June. It was the Strawberry Social when Lynn Evans moved in across the street from the Colemans in 1977.
For the last 15 years, it has been an annual yard sale.
"People who move here, think the streetlights are included [in their tax bill]," said Coleman, who as treasurer for the Frizzellburg Improvement Association collects money to pay the power bill every year.
She enthusiastically encourages participation from everyone in town, so she's called "the Queen of Frizzellburg."
She's also been a volunteer for 36 years at Carroll County General Hospital.
"The yard sale helps pay for the lights," Coleman said. "Sometimes hundreds of people come from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and walk the entire town. We're all excited; we make money for the lights. We work hard to get it."
Evans and family staff a sidewalk cafe to serve lunch and homemade baked goods. Townsfolk spread the sale on front lawns throughout the village.
The Frizzellburg Bible Church holds a promotion for vacation Bible school.
Lynn Evans, 46, and husband Ron moved here 20 years ago with four children, becoming the youngest family in town.
She's a fifth-generation, born and raised in Carroll County. Her husband is from Ellicott City -- "the family got over it," she said. Lynn Evans' sister, Becky Byers, a teacher of autistic children, recently moved into a large house next to the Colemans.
The Evans children grew up in Frizzellburg. Two now work at Baugher's, an orchard and pick-your-own fruit farm at the edge of Frizzellburg.
They return each year to help at the yard sale.
Rite of passage
"My kids laugh now to see the rite of passage when the younger ones are allowed to sit at the corner with the stop sign. Things change, but stay the same," Lynn Evans said.
Laura Turner renovated the Rhoten grocery store into an antique shop two years ago. Rhoten's had been a bar, pool hall, barbershop and grocery between 1944 and 1988, when Lottie Rhoten, 89, closed it.
Now the old grocery shelves hold antique toys, cooking items from the farm, and fancy dishes of previous generations. About 15 antique dealers display their wares on two floors.
People still call it Rhoten's, although the sign out front says Frizellburg Antique Store.
For 16 years, Turner has opened her house to the public for The Teddy Bear Christmas, a show and sale by bear artists who create lifelike teddy bears in all sizes down to miniature walnut-sized bears.
Turner and artist friends hand-stitch the sought-after teddies, each unique in design and costume.
Sue Alexander, 41, and husband Marc moved to a farm just up the street about five years ago.
"We were looking for a small farm, and my kids loved being near a town. And it was just like where I grew up," she said.
It was another rite of passage when, at last, her neighbors began to refer to her house as "the Alexander home."
"When I read that people complain about life in Carroll County, I feel like putting up a sign saying, 'we're full,' " Lynn Evans said. "Once people move here, they stick. It's a wonderful community."
Commuting time to downtown Baltimore: 70 minutes.
Public schools: Runnymede Elementary, Northwest Middle, Francis Scott Key High.
Shopping: Westminster and Cranberry Mall.
ZIP code: 21158.
Points of interest: Annual community yard sale; Teddy Bear Christmas; Baugher's Apple Orchard and farmer's market.
Average price for a single-family home: $129,600
Based on three homes sold in the past 12 months through the Metropolitan Regional Information System.
Pub Date: 6/15/97