A John Deere tractor rolled through downtown White Hall on a recent afternoon pulling a load of hay past a group of parked sport utility vehicles and a young couple with a baby in a jogging stroller.
In White Hall, such seemingly disparate worlds blend together quite well.
White Hall is 45 minutes north of Baltimore. It sits in northeast Baltimore County near the Harford County line. Its downtown, at the junction of Wiseburg and White Hall roads, consists of a park ranger station and an antique store. Nearby is a post office and a snowball stand.
White Hall may be tranquil, but the air is occasionally disrupted by the sounds of home construction. Like many towns in northern Baltimore County, new homes have claimed tracts of White Hall's farmland.
"Development is encroaching on our beautiful farm fields," said Jean Malotte, a rural letter carrier in the White Hall area.
Malotte enjoys seeing wildlife and the change of seasons as she makes her way along her route. During the summer months, though, her route is a bit dusty.
"I've got a bunch of dirt roads," Malotte said.
White Hall has farmhouses that have looked on the same crop fields for 100 years. The area was named for a large white house built during the early 1800s. The building once served as a post office, livery stable and boardinghouse. The town also boasted a paper mill, creamery and grist mill.
White Hall was served by the Northern Central Railroad, which ran through the center of town. Abraham Lincoln's funeral train rolled along the railroad bed that is now the NCR Trail.
The area has long rows of wheat that seem to dance just before summer storms blow in. On some days, one can drive the length of White Hall Road and see only a few other cars.
"Most of that ZIP code area is gently rolling," said Cindy Riley. Her real estate company, Riley and Associates, specializes in northern Baltimore County.
While some homes have been built during recent years, the area is far less developed and cheaper to live in than other quaint northern Baltimore County towns such as Monkton and Parkton, Riley said.
"It's much more a farming community than other areas around here," Riley said.
White Hall has many farms because much of the land in the area has been set aside for agricultural preservation, Riley said.
During the past year, homes in White Hall have sold for as little as $225,000 and as much as $1.6 million, according to Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc., the real estate listing service used by brokers and agents. The average price of a home in White Hall during the past year was $375,035.
In addition to farms, White Hall is home to a section of the NCR Trail, which runs through downtown. Riley, who moved to White Hall recently after years of waiting for the right place, said the biking and hiking trail was one of the things that lured her there.
Others have moved there for the same reason. Dennis Matthews, a teacher at Harford Technical High School, decided to move to White Hall after countless bike rides through the area on the NCR Trail. He said he wanted to live near the trail so his grandchildren could have a place to play.
The house Matthews recently bought in White Hall was built in the 1880s. For him, the mix of old and new architectural styles is one of the area's most attractive features.
"It's got the flavor of an old town and the convenience of a new area," Matthews said.
In addition to the bike trail, White Hall has a county-owned golf course. Greystone Golf Course, on White Hall Road, has three resident pros and is open to the public year-round.
Amy Miller, a real estate agent with Gaylord Brooks Real Estate Co., agrees that the area has potential for buyers. She said one reason is that White Hall is closer to Interstate 83, and therefore Baltimore, than people may realize.
"It's not as far out as everybody thinks it is," Miller said.
ZIP code: 21161
Drive to downtown Baltimore: 45 minutes
Schools: Norrisville and 7th District Elementary schools, North Harford Middle and High schools, Hereford Middle and Hereford High
Shopping: Hereford Center, Hunt Valley Mall, Towson Town Center
Homes on market: 21
Average list price: $387,334 *
Average sales price: $375,035 *
Average days on market: 47
Percentage of list price based on sales price: 96.8% *
* Based on 47 homes sold during the past 12 months as compiled by Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc.