More than 35 years ago, Joe and Emma Foltz decided to head out to the country to find space of their own where they wouldn't feel confined.
What they found was Winfield.
"We knew nothing about the area until we moved here. But we liked it because it was small and rural," said Emma Foltz, who moved with her husband from the Pikesville area of Baltimore County. "This is still such a nice community. You just meet really nice people out here. It's a quiet community, but we like it."
Nestled almost exactly halfway between Frederick and Baltimore, Winfield surrounds the intersection of Woodbine, Salem Bottom and Liberty roads in southern Carroll County. The community has only a handful of businesses, but residents say they have everything they need.
For shopping and supplies, a trip to Eldersburg, Mount Airy or Sykesville is usually necessary, but no one seems to mind. In fact, Winfield residents cherish their quiet, bucolic, country living, away from the sometimes hectic neighboring towns.
"Winfield offers a difference from where I work," said Scott Legore, president of the Winfield Community Volunteer Fire Department. "I work at [Reagan] National Airport, and it's quite a nice difference from the hustle and bustle of a big city."
Legore, 28, grew up in Winfield and decided to stay.
"I like that it's not too developed. It's just a small rural community and I have a lot of family ties here."
"Basically you find a variety of single-family homes in a country setting," said Joseph D. Stephens, a resident of Winfield for 11 years and owner of the Eldersburg and Westminster Re/Max Ambassadors Real Estate offices. "There is a great range of houses here."
There is no such thing as the typical Winfield house. It could be a rancher, Cape Cod, Colonial or even a historic house, generally sitting on an acre, with prices ranging from $120,000 up to $225,000. There are also more expensive developments, with homes on 4- and 5-acre lots selling for more than $250,000, and a variety of farms. But don't expect to find townhouses or condominiums. The country-living atmosphere is what attracted Stephens to the area.
"I grew up in Eldersburg and was familiar with Winfield. I have always loved this area. Being out in the country. That's what brought me out here," said Stephens, adding, "I love the people. They are all good people.
"The farmers are there to help if you need them. Like last winter, we have a farmer that lives across the street. He was out there with his plow helping people get out who were stuck because of the snow. That's why you move out to this area. The people are neighborly."
A bit of history
Winfield was part of a grant given to Col. Joshua Gist, brother of Revolutionary War hero Mordecai Gist, in 1765. The town, established around 1852, was named after Gen. Winfield Scott, who was popular in the mid-1800s after running for president in 1852 as a Whig. One of the more historic buildings in Winfield belongs to the Ebenezer United Methodist Church, founded in the 1820s. After the original log church was destroyed by fire in 1848, the church was rebuilt in 1848, 1860 and again in 1892.
During the Civil War, services were reportedly disturbed by fighting between the armies. The cemetery has unmarked graves of several soldiers.
'Best of both worlds'
"To me it's the best of both worlds. You have the historical houses and a little bit of history, but you also have the newer homes," said Janice A. Kispert, a Winfield resident for more than 25 years. "So it's a little bit of the city and a lot of country. It's also sophisticated enough to draw people to it."
And the commute isn't bad, says Kispert, who works at the Carroll County Historical Society in Westminster.
"I think the location is great. It is so close. You can jump on [Interstate] 70 or Liberty Road. To me it's fabulous. It's very quaint and off the beaten path, but you're still close enough to Liberty Road to get to work."
It's an area that draws people to it, and once in Winfield, they often don't leave.
"The people stay," said Kispert. "At least in my development, everybody's kids are grown and gone, but they have stayed on. There is something in Winfield that keeps people here."
You can't get far in Winfield without people talking about how great the schools are. Winfield Elementary and South Carroll High schools are located in Winfield.
Sheri Reitz has been a teacher at Winfield Elementary School for 11 years. Two years ago, when her children reached school age, she moved to the area so she wouldn't have to commute and so her children could attend the schools. "I have always loved the Winfield area. The people are so sweet here and genuine. They are very friendly and down-to-earth, honest people."
The mixed demographics and true sense of family is also what attracted Reitz to the community. "There are a lot of farms out here. It's still very agricultural compared to a lot of areas of Carroll County."
And when it comes time to pull together as a community, Winfield residents and business owners couldn't be more supportive, Reitz said.
Recently the guidance counselors at the elementary school, who were working on character traits with students, asked the businesses in the area for assistance. They wanted them to display signs of different character traits each month. And like clockwork, said Reitz, each month the store owners put up the different posters.
"They just really put forth the effort. Everyone here still thinks of one another. It's really just a big neighborhood where everybody respects one another. It's everything I thought it would be."
Zip code: 21157 and 21784
Commuting time to downtown Baltimore: 35 minutes
Public schools: Winfield Elementary, Mount Airy Middle, New Windsor Middle, South Carroll High
Shopping: Winfield Plaza, Eldersburg Plaza, Freedom Village, Carrolltown Mall
Homes on market: 3
Average listing price: $134,567 *
Average sales price: $131,933 *
Days on market: 30
Sales price as percentage of listing price: 98.04% *
* Based on three sales in the past 12 months compiled by Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc.