Going from a dairy farm to custom-built homes

The Baltimore Sun

Mount Hebron is a quiet neighborhood where some of the founding landowners still live. Deer are known to nibble on landscaping. Sounds of the local high school marching band can be heard as residents rake their leaves in the fall.

"It gives a nice feel to the community," said Ken Mertz, president of the Mount Hebron/Orchards Community Association. He has lived in the neighborhood since 1999.

Debra Fieldhouse, former president of the association, bought her home in what's known as the neighborhood's old section in 1989. At the time, the section of modest ranchers built in the 1950s and 1960s still was surrounded by undeveloped land.

"It really felt like you were out in the country," said Fieldhouse, a Realtor with Long & Foster Real Estate in Columbia.

The stone, Federal-style farmhouse, known as Hebron House, that still stands in the old section of Mount Hebron is believed to have been built in 1808 and given as a wedding gift to Thomas Beale Dorsey, said Joetta Cramm, a local historian and author of A Pictorial History of Howard County. Dorsey, who became chief judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals, is known for pushing the state Legislature to create Howard County.

The Italian-style stone house that Dorsey built for his daughter, Eliza Dorsey, in the 1850s still stands on Furrow Avenue. It is privately owned.

The Baker family bought about 500 acres of the former Dorsey property in the 1920s and used it to run a dairy farm. The family lived in the old stone farmhouse until 1958. Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church bought the home and surrounding eight acres and held services in the farmhouse until it could build a church next door. The church rents out Hebron House for public events.

Over the next 40 years, the Baker family sold off swaths of its former dairy farm. H.J. Baker Jr. and his brother Franklin Baker built some of the first ranchers on Mount Hebron Drive in the 1950s. The family, however, sold most of its property to other builders, who created much larger Colonials with two-car garages. Several streets, known as Patapsco Park Estates, feature custom-built, million-dollar homes.

Franklin Baker still owns a home in Mount Hebron. H.J. Baker Jr., who moved to a retirement community in Columbia, tends a vegetable garden by the aging barns near Hebron House. The vegetable garden will disappear in a few years once building permits clear for new houses on the remaining eight acres of the family farm.

Housing stock The oldest section, built in the 1950s and 1960s, is composed of single-level ranchers on lots ranging from a half-acre to one acre. Homes there sell for an average of $450,000, Fieldhouse said. The middle section, built in the late 1980s, features large Colonials that typically sell for about $650,000. Patapsco Park Estates, which was built in the 1990s, features million-dollar, custom-built homes. They include English Tudors, a Colonial Williamsburg replica and a Swiss chalet. All of the customized homes have been built except for one lot, which is available.

Schools The residents of Mount Hebron are served by Hollifield Station Elementary School, Patapsco Middle School and Mount Hebron High School. According to state data, all three schools have met Adequate Yearly Progress requirements and far exceeded state standards in reading and math. The high school has a graduation rate of 95.9 percent.

Crime The types of crime seen most often deal with quality-of-life issues, said Sherry Llewellyn, a spokeswoman for the Howard County Police Department. In 2007, those crimes included vandalism, minor cases of destruction of property and small theft, she said. "Historically, we have not seen large numbers of cases of violent crimes or drug crimes," Llewellyn said.

Transportation Mount Hebron is not situated near public transportation. However, it is minutes away from major roadways, such as Interstate 70 and Interstate 695, the Baltimore Beltway.

Shopping Boutique shopping is available in historic Ellicott City, which is about six miles away. Wal-Mart, Target and other large discount stores are located nearby on U.S. 40. Columbia Mall is eight miles away.

Dining in Many of the large supermarket chains are represented within a seven-mile radius of Mount Hebron. They include Giant, Mars, Safeway and Super Fresh.

Dining out Mount Hebron residents like to head to Bare Bones Grill and Brewery, which is known for its ribs and locally made beer. It is about three miles away, on U.S. 40. Another popular destination - close to Bare Bones - is the Crab Shanty. Residents also like to frequent the French restaurant Tersiguel's or Jordan's Steakhouse in downtown Ellicott City.

Nightlife Residents like catching live music at Bare Bones, Jordan's Steakhouse and Cacao Lane Restaurant in Ellicott City.

Recreation Mount Hebron is close to Patapsco Valley State Park, where kayakers take to the Patapsco River. Biking and hiking also are popular there.

The Mount Hebron High School marching band will be performing in the association's 41st annual Halloween parade. The community group also organizes the annual holiday-decorating contest in December and an Easter egg hunt in the spring.

Mount Hebron By The Numbers

ZIP code: 21042

Homes currently on the market: 18

Average listing price: $658,300*

Average sale price: $633,296*

Average days on the market: 105*

*Information based on sales in the past 12 months as compiled by Debra Fieldhouse, a Realtor with Long & Foster Real Estate in Columbia, and Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc.

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