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Pint-size package of surprises awaits those who don't zip past; Woodstock has charm, location and those fine Howard County schools


If you blink your eyes, you might miss it.

That's how small Woodstock, a neighborhood on the border of Baltimore and Howard counties, is.

Surrounded mostly by farmland, Woodstock is fairly serene despite its proximity to busy Interstate 70.

"When we moved here, Woodstock was even more of a sleeper community than it is now," said Terri Berchelli, who moved to Woodstock 14 years ago.

"Some people in Ellicott City don't even know it is here."

Berchelli and her husband, Vince, moved to Woodstock 15 years ago from Prince George's County. When searching for a place to live, the Berchellis looked for a good school system for their five daughters and a place convenient for Vince, a jockey at Pimlico and Laurel racetracks before retiring in 1989.

They found Woodstock served both purposes.

The Berchellis purchased an old farmhouse on 120 acres. They later sold 60 acres to a developer, who built 14 single-family homes on lots of from 3 acres to 12 acres in an area now known as Parkside.

"The convenience where we live is great," Terri Berchelli said. "We are near everything we need to be near to, yet we have plenty of privacy."

Woodstock is 40 minutes from downtown Baltimore, 30 minutes from Security Square Mall and 10 minutes from Mount Hebron High School and Waverly Elementary.

A new post office was built recently right in the middle of the community on Route 99.

Woodstock's history -- according to the Howard County Historical Society -- can be traced as far back as 1689 when Samuel Browne settled on the Baltimore County side of the Patapsco River. His will, dated 1713, is among the first to be recorded in the county.

One of the most famous landmarks in Woodstock is the old College of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, better known as Woodstock College. Chartered in 1867, the college was home to a Jesuit community and was home to one of the largest theological collections in the country.

The college decided to relocate its operations to New York in the late 1960s. The building remains, however, and today is home to the Woodstock Job Corps.

Despite the mostly rural setting, there are many homes in the area from which to choose.

"There is something to accommodate any lifestyle -- whether it be for a single person, a growing family or senior citizens," said Jim Dillon, a Realtor for Heritage Realty Services in Ellicott City.

Dillon said prices for homes in Woodstock can vary greatly. New or existing townhouses are usually priced in the $125,000 range, while single-family homes can reach $400,000.

The biggest site of development in Woodstock is Waverly Woods -- a continuing 20-year project that spreads over 680-acres. A broad range of housing -- from condominiums to townhouses to single-family homes -- is available in the planned community. There is also an 18-hole golf course and a planned 14-acre retail and commercial site.

"Waverly Woods is really a community within a community," said Tim McIntyre, a Realtor for ERA Caton Realty Co.

Jackie Bissett moved into the Waverly Woods area five years ago. While she, her husband and children enjoy the development and the community, it was the schools that brought them to Woodstock.

"Before we decided to move here, I went to five different counties and investigated their school system, and I found Howard County to be the best," Bissett said.

According to the 1998 Maryland School Performance Assessment Program, Howard County has the best school system in Maryland.

"I have had a lot of people tell me the reason they move here is because of the schools," said Joanne Furguson, principal of Waverly Elementary School in Woodstock.

Bissett said she believes that more people are moving to Howard County for the education opportunities as she sees more people moving into her development.

"People love the education their children receive, and yet they still remain close to Baltimore," Bissett said. "My daughter told me that the school bus has been getting more crowded each year."

Pat Davis, a Realtor at Re/Max Columbia in Ellicott City, said she hears questions all the time about the quality of schools. She said the quality of the school system can affect home prices.

"I recently sold a 2,300-square-foot Colonial, built by Pulte, which sells for around $188,000 in most areas, yet it went for $268,000 in Woodstock," Davis said.

"Many people will spend $50,000 more for a house if it means their children will be in a good school district."


ZIP code: 21163

Commuting time to downtown Baltimore: 40 minutes

Public schools: Mount Hebron High School, Patapsco Middle School, Waverly Elementary School

Shopping: Security Square Mall

Points of interest: Arthur Hill Golf Course, Patapsco State Park, Alpha Ridge Park, Howard County Conservancy

Homes on market: 24*

Average listing price: $225,664*

Average sales price: $221,297*

Sales price as a percentage of listing: 98%*

Average days on market: 208*

* Based on 26 sales in the last 12 months by the Metropolitan Regional Information System.

Pub Date: 1/10/99

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