Reese is a small community in Carroll County that feels the indirect squeeze of development, but manages to ward off big change.
One little tavern, one big volunteer company, a garage, six to 10 houses, a smattering of apartments and a few farms make up the little community sandwiched between Finksburg and Westminster.
The annual fireman's carnival, one of the largest in the state, and a local tavern that pulls in more than 100 people a week for pool leagues, guarantee that Reese will always be more than just a blip on the map.
"Reese is a rather small geographic area, but, because of the active fire company and its annual carnival, it has the aura of a larger community," said John Wildesen, a Realtor with Glen Falls Realty in Westminster.
"The main reason we called our business Reese Automotive is because of the fire department's big reputation," said Bob Marchetti, who co-owns a garage near the fire hall's prime location on the corner of Reese Road and Route 140.
Reese is the kind of place where "bingo banquets" and the annual Christmas party at the fire hall are big entertainment. Coors Light is the favored drink at Reese Inn, the local bar; and the singer who gets the most quarters in the jukebox is Patsy Cline.
"This is the kind of place where you can move away and come back to visit after several years, and you'll see the same faces at the local bar or the fire hall," said Brad Lockard, who moved to Georgia six years ago, but recently stopped into the Reese Inn for a visit.
"It's a friendly little place, and there are no troublemakers," said Walt Tawney, a Reese resident for 30 years and a Black & Decker retiree since 1992.
Tawney and many of his friends who shoot pool or visit at Reese Inn remember the days long before Route 140 sliced through the area. Old Westminster Pike, which runs through the heart of the Reese community, was the main link between Baltimore and Westminster. The fire hall and the post office were "in town."
Reese had one of the best Sunday baseball leagues in the whole state and teams would come from all over to play on a field next to the local bar, Tawney said.
"A tall wooden fence kept many balls from careening into the main road," said 81-year-old Russell Mann. "The field eventually moved to Westminster. Everything moved to Westminster."
"The community blends into southern Westminster and northern Finksburg area and avoids the cost of some of the homes there," Wildesen said.
"The advantage to living in Reese is that its location is south of Westminster's traffic pattern and there is easy access to [Interstate] 795."
There are new residential developments outside the north and south ends of Reese, each with 15 to 30 homes with prices ranging from $170,000 to $250,000. Mobile homes south of Reese sell for anywhere between $10,000 and $15,000, and in the heart of the community, 40- to 90-year-old homes sell for $125,000 to $150,000.
In addition to two or three homes that are for sale by the owners, there is one active listing within Reese for $124,900, which has been on the market 131 days.
One four-bedroom, 2 1/2 -bath home sold in the past year for $138,000.
There are at least three large pieces of property for sale in and near Reese: one 35-acre tract off Bethel Road, zoned for six residential lots, is listed for $325,000; a 15-acre tract on the west side of 140, zoned agriculturally, is listed for $1 million; and 140 acres to the east of 140 zoned for agriculture is listed for $1.5 million.
"The houses available for purchase are just not there," John Wildesen said. "If there were 200 more houses to sell between Reese and Finksburg, guess what? They would all sell. Of course, the price and the condition of the home would have to be right."
No hill now
For decades, the Reese Inn, one of two thriving businesses in the community, has had a consistent clientele and a variety of past names, including Leisure Time, Shipley's and Bill's on the Hill.
"I don't know where the hill is, but back when this place was Bill's on the Hill, people would pour in from as far away as Baltimore for the steamed crabs every Wednesday night," said Donnie Wildesin, who has been the owner of Reese Inn for the past 15 years.
The local bar still serves up crab cakes, steamed clams, soft-shell crabs and jumbo fried shrimp, but most of the people who come in eat sandwiches now, Wildesin said. The big attractions are pool leagues and the Formica counter/bar around the center of the tavern where the conversation and beer flow freely.
Phrases such as, "I remember when" open many conversations.
"I remember when my dad used to tell me, 'If a fight breaks out, get up with the band. They'll protect what [equipment] they've got,' " Lockard said. "But that was years ago, when there was live music here and long-neck beers."
"I remember when I used to like the countryside in Reese," said Russell Mann's brother, Bob.
"But now with 140 as the main highway, it's too fast, and it's not as country out here any more. The fire hall and the friendly people give Reese a country atmosphere -- but it's not really country."
Commuting time to downtown Baltimore: 45 minutes
ZIP code: 21157
Public schools: Sandymount Elementary; Robert Moton Elementary; West Middle School; Westminster High School
Shopping: Finksburg Plaza, downtown Westminster, Cranberry Mall
Points of interest: Reese and Community Volunteer Fire Hall; Reese Inn
Homes on market: 1
Average listing price: $145,000*
Average sales price: $138,000*
Average days on market: 38*
Sales price as a percentage of listing: 95%*
* Based on 1 house sold in the last year as recorded by the Metropolitan Regional Information System.
Pub Date: 12/27/98