When Mary Alice and Bob Noppinger decided that three floors of house was getting to be too much to handle, they went searching for a neighborhood where they could find single-level living.
What they found was a rancher in one of Baltimore County's most established neighborhoods -- Hampton.
"It's a great, quiet neighborhood, with a fair number of children," said Mrs. Noppinger. "Everyone is very particular about taking care of their property, and there's a very strong community association."
The Towson neighborhood is bordered on the south by the Baltimore Beltway, on the east by Providence Road, on the west by Dulaney Valley Road, and on the north by the Loch Raven watershed.
By the time June and Bob Amos actually moved themselves and their four children into Hampton two years ago, they knew their way around pretty well -- the house the couple bought was directly across the street from his parents.
"We really weren't in the market for a house, but when we saw the sale sign on the house across the street from my in-laws, we said 'Well, let's take a look at it,' " said June Amos. "Hampton has always been a beautiful neighborhood, and we always enjoyed being there, but we never dreamed we'd buy a house there."
The majority of development in the area took place in the 1950s and early 1960s, said Tom Mooney, a Realtor with O'Conor, Piper and Flynn ERA. "There are a lot of stone-and-brick homes in the community," said Mooney. "Typically, they are solidly built ranchers and Colonials, with a sprinkling of split-level homes and Cape Cods, as well. But there are also some tremendous homes -- and a few estates and mansions."
Indeed, the neighborhood takes its name from the Hampton Mansion, a 60-acre National Historic Site. Dating from the 1700s, the beautiful and ornate Georgian house was built on the Ridgely family's land, which once included 24,000 acres.
While Hampton Mansion is hardly up for sale, other properties in the neighborhood are.
According to Mooney, there are almost a dozen homes on the market, with asking prices ranging from $170,000 to $1.5 million. "But the average tends to be about $279,000," he said.
A home on Margarette Avenue -- a brick Colonial built in 1957 with three bedrooms and 3 1/2 bathrooms that sits on an acre -- is listed for $348,000.
Also on the market is a 1951 four-bedroom stone rancher on Providence Road, also on one acre. The home, with a finished basement, flagstone porch and a 44-by-35-foot, L-shaped family room with stone fireplace, is on the market for $315,000.
For the Amoses, there were bonuses in addition to being near relatives.
"Our house also had a fenced-in back yard, and beyond that there is a back back yard, which is wooded. The kids love to play there -- it's like they're out in the woods, but they're really not."
With many of the original homeowners retiring and downsizing, Hampton has seen an invasion of families -- many of whom grew up in the neighborhood and are now returning.
The community association holds a crab feast in the summer and distributes a newsletter several times each year.
The area is also served by a community pool whose membership is open to Hampton residents as well as some people from nearby neighborhoods.
Another plus is the schools.
"My children go to Hampton Elementary, but they could also attend Cromwell Valley Elementary, which is a magnet school for technology," Mrs. Amos said.
"In addition to gifted-and-talented programs, there are other very active enrichment programs that go above and beyond the school day."
And Hampton is ideally situated.
Nearness to the Beltway makes for easy access to downtown. "It's convenient to everything you want, largely because it's so near the Beltway," said Mrs. Noppinger.
"Getting to Towson is easy, not to mention Perry Hall, Owings Mills, wherever you want to go."
For those who work in Towson, the commute is virtually nonexistent. And, Goucher College lies directly opposite the Beltway from the community, and Towson University is a couple of miles down York Road.
The proximity to Loch Raven Reservoir, with its hiking paths and bicycling opportunities, is another key to the neighborhood's desirability.
Almost anything one could want in the way of shopping is nearby in Towson -- with its Towson Town Center and Towson Commons, as well as nearby Towson Market Place and Green Spring Station.
Hampton ZIP code: 21286
Commuting time to downtown Baltimore: 20 minutes
Public schools: Hampton Elementary, Ridgely Middle, Dulaney High
Shopping: Towson Town Center, Towson Commons, Green Spring Station
Homes on market: 8
Average listing price: $320,503*
Average sales price: $307,029*
Average days on market: 74*
Sales price as percentage of listing: 96%*
*Based on 31 sales in the past 12 months as recorded by the Metropolitan Regional Information System.
Pub Date: 4/11/99