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Neighborhood:: Ashburton

Location:: Northwest Baltimore

Average sales price:: $141,000 (January-June)

Notable features:: Beautiful single-family homes - some brick - and lots of mature trees. An old-money feel without the price tag. Directly to the south is Hanlon Park, with Lake Ashburton.

A 2002 study of city neighborhoods, prepared by Johns Hopkins University graduate students, called Ashburton "a well-defined enclave in northwest Baltimore that has established itself as the home of Baltimore's black elite." In fact, I almost disqualified Ashburton from a list of hidden-gem neighborhoods because I thought it was an unhidden gem, a place most people know about. Until I started asking around and got puzzled looks, that is.

Real Estate Wonk blog reader Alonzo LaMont Jr. wrote in his nomination of the neighborhood, "There are PLENTY of big old homes in this area, and it's very close to Loyola, Hopkins, Notre Dame (even Morgan [State University] is a stone's throw away). People are paying all those big bucks to live in Charles Village (upper and lower), Homewood, and Hampden when they could have a lot more house in Ashburton."

When I visited to get photos, I chatted with resident Alfred Nkere and heard how he came to live in Ashburton seven years ago: "One day I was driving in this area and it just struck me," said Nkere, who owns an import-export business. He moved to a street lined with big trees, a place so green and suburban that "we have this idea that we're not in the city."

Nkere, a father of six, said the neighborhood is a good place to raise a family. "We can have the kids play in the back without worrying," he said.

Another thing he likes about Ashburton: It's just north of Hilton Street, and thus much quicker by car to Interstate 95 than it might appear.

About this series

With help from readers, The Baltimore Sun's Real Estate Wonk blog selected 10 nice, affordable and off-the-radar places as "hidden-gem neighborhoods." This is one of the 10.

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