Neighborhood love: Overlea
A few weeks back I put out a call for some neighborhood love -- why you live where you live, what makes it a nice or quirky or neighborly place (and, if tough love is required, what you're trying to change).
A handful of you have already raised your hands to participate. Overlea resident Bob Marousek was the fastest to the finish line, letting neither the holidays nor the snow deter him.
Marousek, who works in real estate and has lived in Overlea since 1998, also shared lots of photos -- so many that we started a "My Neighborhood 'Tis of Thee" gallery.
So: Take it away, Bob!
Photograph of Overlea sunset by Bob Marousek
Overlea, a suburb of Northeast Baltimore City and Baltimore County, means "Over the Meadow." But it's been called other names throughout the years -- Raspeburg (after the Raspe family, who once ran a general store on Belair Road) and Belgravia (a fashionable residential suburb of central London). Overlea began to flourish with the introduction of streetcar service to the area in 1903. This allowed downtown workers to move away from the cramped city to the "rolling hills of the countryside." The No. 15 streetcar ran from Overlea to West Baltimore Street -- a trip that took a whopping 46 minutes in those days!
The community is bordered by Parkville to the north, Waltherson to the south, Hamilton to the west and Rosedale to the east. Houses in the area range from new construction to more than 100 years old, so there are many styles of architecture, which is what appealed to me. You can find brick Colonials, stucco Cape Cods, split levels, stone ranchers, cedar shingle Dutch Colonials, duplexes and townhomes here.
Examples of Overlea homes. (See many more in the gallery.)
House prices range from about $90,000 to $400,000, so there is a home for everyone's budget. Many of the older homes have been renovated. Quite a few properties have third floors, as larger families needed more space way back when. Some lots are more than a half-acre, with many species of trees and plants.
During the 11 years I have lived here, I have seen blue heron, red tail hawks, wild turkeys and even white tail deer roaming my neighborhood. The wildlife can take a bit of getting used to. One neighbor called police late one night as he thought he heard a woman in need of help. Once the officer arrived, he soon determined it was a wail of a red fox (much to his amusement). Yards are well kept and quite a few of my neighbors have gardens and koi ponds (which the blue heron just love).
The neighborhood wildlife
Once they live here, people seem to stay for quite a while. Some have grown up here and moved away, only to return later. Some have lived here all their lives. I love to hear the history of the neighborhood, with tales of how basements were blasted out with dynamite, of finding Indian arrowheads in the soil, of goats running loose and kids swimming at Gatch quarry, which sat on Belair Road just north of White Avenue.
I don't know if there is much I would change about Overlea; this place has it all. Stop by and visit sometime.
Thanks for spreading a little neighborhood love, Bob.
Would you like to speak up for your neighborhood? Email me at jamie.smith.hopkins(at)baltsun.com to get started. I'm not looking for staid reports of the grade-school variety, and you're not required to go into details about home prices and the like. Just tell us why you live where you do and share a story or two. If you can send a few photos (or a lot, as Bob did), so much the better.