A quaint refuge graces Towson


A half-century ago Betty Bieretz and her husband, Louis, were out for a Sunday drive in a newly developed area known as Knollwood.

"It really was the location that attracted us because at the time this was out in the country," Mrs. Bieretz said.

When they found the development still had a lot for sale, the Bieretzes jumped at the chance to build a home in Knollwood.

"At one time you could hear a pin drop back here. One nice thing about this neighborhood is that when the homes were built each house was different. I particularly like that," said Mrs. Bieretz, whose husband has since died.

Although the small town of Towson has grown into a major commercial center, Mrs. Bieretz said the quaintness of the neighborhood, now known as Knollwood-Donnybrook, is still intact. She's never thought of leaving.

"I absolutely enjoy it. I have lots of memories and I like the neighborhood. I love the people and it still delights me that each house is so different. I wouldn't consider living any place else. We lucked out to find this."

Throughout the years many residents have felt lucky to have found a home in a neighborhood with a sense of community.

Their enclave, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of nearby Towson, is filled with winding roads, mature trees and flowering yards. Yet, only minutes away are Towson Town Center, Towson University, St. Joseph Medical Center and the Greater Baltimore Medical Center.

Carolyn Williams, co-president of the Knollwood-Donnybrook Improvement Association, said one of her favorite things about her home is that she can sit outside and watch as the "whole community comes walking by.

"Whether it's with their dogs, or walking to the pool or just walking, they all come by and that is similar to a rowhouse community in that you always feel connected to your neighbors. We know our neighbors."

After living in nearby Rodgers Forge for more than 15 years, Williams had outgrown her home and decided to move, but she knew she wouldn't be moving far.

"For us, we never thought of moving somewhere else. The Rodgers Forge, Knollwood, Stoneleigh, Wiltondale area, they all have the same kind of feel to it. And I think the people that live there have the same values in terms of where they want to live," said Williams. "We like to be able to walk to things. My kids go to Stoneleigh Elementary and they have the most idyllic walk. I really like that about the neighborhood."

Another resident who moved from Rodgers Forge to the neighborhood is Robin Brook. She and her family needed more room, but they didn't want to move from the area.

"We wanted to stay. I grew up in Rodgers Forge and there is a real sense of community here. You have a great school district and the thing my husband and I like most about living in this area is that you're close to downtown and all the cultural events," said Brook, who has lived in Knollwood-Donnybrook since 1993 with her husband Chip and daughter Emilia. "You're really centrally located here."

Brook said her family gets together with neighbors for several social events throughout the year, including dinners to welcome new residents.

Knollwood-Donnybrook was built in sections mostly during the 1950s. Just east of York Road near Towson High School, the neighborhood is bounded by Burke Avenue to the north, Stevenson Lane at Kimway Road to the south and the Country Club of Maryland to the east.

The homes are a mix of split-levels, ranchers, Colonials and Cape Cods.

"Knollwood-Donnybrook is made up of everything from smaller ranchers on nice big lots to brick Colonials," said Joanne McCarthy, an agent with Coldwell Banker, Grempler Realty in Towson and a former resident of the neighborhood.

"People like that it is terribly convenient to downtown and the Beltway. It's such a centrally located neighborhood. You can get anywhere in 15 minutes. And, of course, the school district makes it especially attractive. It's a very well-sought-after neighborhood."

Most of the homes are of the three-bedroom, two-bath variety and many have basements. Prices for homes in Knollwood-Donnybrook are in the $120,000-$220,000 range.

"The neighborhood is known for its pretty trees and beautiful azaleas. These older neighborhoods really have the prettiest landscaping," said McCarthy. "And the lots are especially large."

The neighborhood, which contains 377 homes, occupies the former grounds of the Towson Nursery. Peggy Williams came to the neighborhood with her husband and five young children in the early 1960s. Four decades later, she still has no reason to leave.

"I've lived here for 40 years and that's the best testimonial. It's just a very friendly community," Williams said.

"We have a crab feast every year that is very popular and a Halloween parade that has been going on since before I moved here. And now my grandchildren come back and enjoy the same Halloween party. That is so nice to see another generation coming back."

Because of through streets, Knollwood-Donnybrook is more susceptible to traffic from nearby Towson, unlike neighboring Wiltondale and Stoneleigh.

Along with five other community associations, Knollwood-Donnybrook participates in a Citizens on Patrol (COP) group. Pat France, who runs the group, agrees that the people in the neighborhood keep it special.

"We have a great camaraderie between the neighbors and even between the different community associations," said France, who has lived in Knollwood-Donnybrook for 11 years.


ZIP code: 21204

Commuting time to downtown Baltimore: 25 minutes

Public schools: Stoneleigh Elementary, Pleasant Plains Elementary, Dumbarton Middle, Towson High

Shopping: Towson Town Center, Towson Market Place, Dulaney Plaza

Homes on market: 3

Average listing price: $161,730 *

Average sales price: $158,040 *

Days on market: [Page 5 *]

Sales price as percentage of listing price: 98% ** Based on 10 sales in the past six months compiled by Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc.

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