Mecca for O's and Ravens fans; Camden Yards not far from quiet Ferndale, thanks to light rail


An Orioles fan would like Ferndale. So would a Ravens fan.

Hopping on the light rail, they could be at Camden Yards in a matter of minutes with no parking problems or worries about traffic.

"The light rail makes it real easy to get to the stadiums," said Jim Newcomb, a resident of Ferndale who often attends Orioles games. "Some people can just walk to the station." And, after the game, they can return to a home in a close-knit, affordable community that still retains a small-town atmosphere.

The light rail tracks which parallel Baltimore and Annapolis Boulevard run through the middle of Ferndale, giving it the feel of a small town in Kansas minus the grain elevators.

Back in 1993, when the MTA started light-rail service, there was a concern about the trains' effect on Ferndale, the next-to-last stop on the southern line.

"It's not really a problem," said Don Crist, the owner of Century 21-Crist Realty in Glen Burnie.

"It didn't make Ferndale more expensive because of the access to the city nor did it hurt property values." He also says that the best thing about it is the access to the stadium.

Finding new housing is all but impossible in Ferndale, according to Crist.

The homes are 30 or more years old and range in price from $80,000 to $180,000 in mainly Cape Cod, rancher and split-foyer styles.

"There's very little rental here; all single-family detached homes that are very reasonably priced," said Ziggi Nickel, manager of the Coldwell Banker Stevens office in Ferndale.

Aside from being but a quick trip from the ballgame, Ferndale is a quick commute to Baltimore or to Annapolis. Many residents work in the Dorsey Road corridor for employers such as Northrop Grumman and also at Fort Meade and the National Security Administration.

The community has always had a link to the railroad.

The Baltimore and Annapolis Railroad carried passengers until 1950, then freight trains took over the tracks. When the light rail began, a new station with a brick clock tower was built. It replaced an earlier version that was torn down after the B&A; passenger service ended.

Originally called Wellham after one of the principal landowners in the early 20th century, the name was changed to Ferndale in 1921. An early Indian tribe had called the area the land of the ferns, which grew in abundance due to the marshy terrain. Ferndale slowly built up, but development really blossomed after World War II when servicemen moved from South Baltimore, looking for single-family homes still close to jobs in the city.

Though technically part of Glen Burnie, Ferndale steadfastly keeps its own identity apart from it and the surrounding towns.

"We're not like the aristocrats in Linthicum," noted Ed Wil- son, a 40-year member of the Ferndale Volunteer Fire Department. "And we don't move in and out like the people in Glen Burnie; we stay."

The event that sums up the community's pride is Ferndale Day, held every May. It features a parade, exhibits, and food. "Our equipment is No. 1 in line in the parade," boasted Wilson, the veteran fireman.

There is a "downtown" in Ferndale, consisting of a few local businesses.

"They've been there for eons," remarked Cecilia Dietz of the Ferndale Community Club where members go for family events such as shrimp feasts, bull roasts and parties.

Although the post office that was the community's unofficial gathering place is gone, people still use the stores. The Ferndale Tavern is also a favorite gathering place.

Another spot on the boulevard is Margie Coffey's Ferndale Oldies, where one can find a selection of classic music from the 1940s to the 1970s.

"We carry blues, rhythm and blues, oldies, country western, about everything, but no rap," Coffey said, whose business has been there for 18 years. "It's kind of in a middle spot between Baltimore and Washington; it makes it easy for my customers from the Carolinas and Virginia to get here."

To Alex Sabotor, who also works in the Coldwell Banker Stevens office, Ferndale is a forgotten gem.

Since he came to the office four years ago, Sabotor has made a lot of sales in Ferndale.

"As a listing agent, I've got to crawl into the head of the buyer," he said. "And they want a quiet neighborhood and value; that's what you get in Ferndale."


Population: 16,355 (1990 Census)

ZIP codes: 21061, 21090

Commuting time to downtown Baltimore: 15 minutes

Public Schools: North County High, Marley Middle School, Ferndale Elementary

Shopping: Burwood Plaza, Cromwell Station

Homes on market: 16

Average listing price: $118,512*

Average sales price: $116,765*

Sales price as percentage of listing: $98.52%*

Average days on market: 135*

* Based on 24 sales in the last 12 months as recorded by the Metropolitan Regional Information System.

Pub Date: 1/24/99

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