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November 18, 2009

Hidden gem: Havre de Grace


Neighborhood -- or, in this case, community: Havre de Grace

Location: Harford County

Average sales price: $241,000 (January through June)

Notable features: Water, water, everywhere. Havre de Grace's northeastern boundary is the Susquehanna River, and along its southeastern edge flows the Chesapeake Bay. There's a boardwalk promenade along the river and boats galore, plus a quaint downtown on the National Register of Historic Places.

Some of the homes here are historic and stately. Some are just darn cute. Take a look:









You'll see lots of porches:




And neat architectural touches:


And, naturally, boats. Lots of boats. (Plus some waterfront condos, too.)



Beyond old-town Havre de Grace, you'll find newer subdivisions in the 21078 ZIP code with the sorts of homes that fans of suburbia are accustomed to seeing:



While in town, I stopped to chat with artist Debra Moffitt. She was painting a Havre de Grace streetscape that caught her eye:



"It's just a charming scene," said Moffitt, an Arbutus resident participating in a painting contest. "It's sort of iconic of Havre de Grace."

About 13,000 people live in the incorporated part of Havre de Grace. Meghan Simmons, manager of economic development there, said she was attracted to the area by the downtown waterfront. She and her husband live in a Victorian house that's big enough for them plus four apartments.

"There's a lot of really neat Victorians that people have invested [in] and turned them into all hardwood, brick-exposed apartments," she said. "Just a lot of really neat places to rent."

Havre de Grace markets itself as a tourist destination. You can rent kayaks in town, visit museums in unique spaces (a lighthouse and a skipjack sailboat), hike on recreational trails, check out the art galleries or simply stroll along the streets and imagine what the town looked like when it was incorporated in 1785. Its name was suggested three years earlier by the Marquis de Lafayette, who crossed the river by ferry and was struck by a resemblance to Le Havre in France. (Locals translate it as "harbor of grace" or "harbor of mercy.")

Outside the historic district is Bulle Rock, a gated community with a golf course that hosted the LPGA Championship for several years.

If you're looking for a short commute to Baltimore, Havre de Grace isn't the place for you. It's a 40-mile drive to downtown. Wilmington, Del. is several miles closer, in fact. But you don't have to rely on back roads to get where you need to go.

"We are right off 95," Simmons said.

Have personal experience with Havre de Grace? Do share.

Want to see all the photos I took? Check out the hidden-gem gallery.  

Tomorrow: Lake Walker.

(All photographs by Jamie Smith Hopkins / Baltimore Sun)

Posted by Jamie Smith Hopkins at 7:00 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Hidden-gem neighborhoods


I was just there on Sunday to see a friend in the Tidewater Players production of RENT. (it was GREAT, by the way)
I hadn't been to HdG since I was a small kid in the 70's.
We had a FANTASTIC brunch buffet at Larrapin, and walked a block or two downtown and browsed a neat antiques, books, and comic book store complete with an eccentric owner.
Such fun!!
I really want to go up again when I have time to explore more.

It's a nice area - just that the average home price should be around $160K

I grew up in Aberdeen, right outside Havre de Grace. I must say, this is definitely a place you must visit if you're a marylander. The promenade which is my ultimate favorite part of Havre de Grace is beautiful and there is a lot of sight seeing there. Since I can remember I've always gone there as a child for picnics, jogging, walking my dogs, or even relaxing and watching the ducks and sunset. It's also a great place for a walk with a loved one. I now live in Catonsville and I get home sick from time to time because it is nothing like Harford County. There is so much wild life in Harford County and Havre de grace is the perfect example!

Havre de Grace is an incredibly nice little place. The downtown section is beautiful, with tons of little antique shops and cafes and such. The schools are great too- The high school now has an incredible music program. Just a great place to live.

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About Jamie Smith Hopkins
Jamie Smith Hopkins, a Baltimore Sun reporter since 1999, writes about the regional economy. Her reporting on the housing market has won national and local awards. Hopkins is a Columbia native and has lived in Maryland all her life, save for 10 months spent covering schools in Ames, Iowa.
She trained to become a wonk by spending large chunks of time as a geek and an insufferable know-it-all.
Baltimore Sun articles by Jamie

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