When George Kendrick moved to Arbutus 45 years ago, he already knew the community.
"It's the greatest place in the world," says Kendrick, 81, who coached football in the southwestern Baltimore County community before moving there. "I think everyone should live here."
Arbutus, consisting of young families with children and longtime residents, includes single-family houses, rowhouses and apartment complexes.
The area, often referred to as a blue-collar community by longtime residents, is where Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. grew up.
As in most of the Baltimore area, demand for residential real estate has been brisk in recent years. The average home sold in seven days during the past 12 months, and the average price was $171,000, according to Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc. Eighteen houses were sold during that time.
"People will buy whatever they can get," says Barbara Cavender of Community Real Estate Team in Arbutus. "If it's a clean house and priced right, they go in 24 hours."
Kendrick, who ran the now-closed Kendrick's Bakery in the area, says Arbutus attracts working people who want to raise families in a stable community. The population has risen slightly during the past decade to 20,116, according to U.S. Census data.
"The people make the community," Kendrick says. "I don't find too many people that I don't like."
According to a history compiled by the Arbutus Business and Professional Association, the town was named for the arbutus flower, once abundant in southern Baltimore County. The flower, which usually grows well in wooded or shaded areas, is seldom found in Arbutus today because of development.
The oldest structure in Arbutus is Windcrest, a mansion built by Robert Stevens in 1838. In 1861, the house was purchased by James Solon Stewart Linthicum, a prominent lawyer. The house was used during the Civil War as a Confederate lookout post. It has a trap door in the attic that gives access to the roof.
In 1945, the mansion was sold to Arbutus Baptist Church, according to a history of the house compiled by James Knowles, who bought it in the 1960s.
Lindsay Hickey, an employee of Jamaican Me Tan tanning salon in Arbutus, has lived there for 17 years. She says she loves its small size. "Everyone knows everyone," Hickey says.
When Kendrick moved to Arbutus in 1959, it was more like the country, he says. Over the years, with the expansion of Interstate 95 and the need for more housing, he has seen the area grow.
"They would put a house on a postage stamp if they could figure out a way to do it," Kendrick says.
Kendrick says he opposed the expansion of the nearby University of Maryland, Baltimore County campus but he has not noticed any significant problems between students and the community.
"What hurts the community is when they build highways like 95, they have to eliminate homes, and that takes good people out of the community," he says.
Noreen Boettinger of Century 21 Real Estate in Catonsville says that, when she first moved to Arbutus in 1986, she planned to stay for just a few years. Because of revitalization efforts and community activities such as the town's Fourth of July Parade and craft fairs, Boettinger stayed until 1999, when she moved to nearby Catonsville.
Arbutus "really attracts a wide array of people," Boettinger says. "It attracts anyone from young families and first-time homebuyers to retired people and young professionals."
ZIP code: 21227
Commute time to downtown: 15 minutes
Public schools: Arbutus Elementary, Halethorpe Elementary, Relay Elementary, Arbutus Middle, Lansdowne High School
Shopping: Strip malls and small, family-owned shops
Homes on the market: 5
Average list price: $165,000 *
Average sales price: $171,000 *
Average days on market: 7 *
Sales price as percentage of list price: 104% *
* Based on 18 properties sold during the past 12 months as compiled by Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc.