Maryland Homes and Gardening
- Category: Chesapeake Communities
- Published on Wednesday, 18 July 2012 07:37
- Written by Wendi Winters
The Baltimore-Annapolis commuter train that threaded its way along a path parallel to the Severn River has long ceased running. All that's left of its tracks is the B & A Bike Trail. Now a long ribbon of asphalt shaded by trees, it's a popular place for bikers, hikers, joggers, and runners. Arnold, Maryland, the town it runs through, has a topography that features cliffs, sandy beaches, water-privileged communities, a dozen marinas, and a whole lot of what was once farmland.
Arnold Station, once a train stop on that route, is no more. But the name Arnold remains. The once rural community, located next door to Maryland's state capital, has evolved into a series of subdivisions punctuated by a few shopping malls. Positioned on part of the Broadneck peninsula, a few of the original ancient farmsteads remain, harkening back to the time when several generations of family by the name of Arnold established themselves. One, Elijah Arnold, operated a general store in his home. By the 1880s, the area became known as Arnold.
If you look closely you can find a few of those original farmhouses, nestled within the various subdivisions. There is a farmhouse in Ulmstead Estates and one in Bayberry Community called Spriggs Farm, which was purchased last year by Anne Arundel County. When funding is available, there are plans to convert the 54.7 acres and 650 feet of shorefront along the Magothy River into some form of parkland. With plenty of recreational areas and the top-ranked community college, also on the site of a former farm, Arnold has plenty to offer its residents. It's a place many folks call home.
Susan and Fred Eckert moved to the neighborhood known as Indian Hills from Annapolis in 1994. Built in the late 1960s, Indian Hills has become a joint neighborhood with the adjacent subdivision Glen Eden, built in the 1990s.
"We chose Arnold because our housing dollars went further just across the Severn River," explains Susan.
An established neighborhood populated with plenty of school-aged children and a community swimming pool, the Eckerts already knew some of the residents. They quickly became involved in school and sports activities. With approximately 8,000 households, Arnold boasts four public elementary schools and two middle schools that feed into Broadneck High School. Private schools Chesapeake Academy, Chesapeake Montessori School, Arnold Christian School, and Antioch Christian School are also located within its boundaries.
"Arnold does not have a downtown or town center," explains Susan Eckert, "so the individual neighborhoods tend to create the feel."
Indian Hills/Glen Eden is a social community, particularly for families, she says.
"The pool, club house, play-ground,and tennis and baseball courts provide a central gathering spot all year long and there are a number of planned seasonal/local activities. The summer swim team is very popular, and for many years was the main summer activity for our whole family."
Milia and Mark Cristou also live in the Indian Hills/Glen Eden community, and moved there in 1988 when their eldest child was just two months old.
"The community has been a real haven for our children," says Milia. "They have enjoyed immense freedom to roam freely and in safety. My kids still talk about the fun they had on summer vacations when hordes of kids would play 'capture the flag' and other group games late into the night.
As a parent she says, "I always felt comfortable knowing that all the neighborhood parents shared the responsibility of keeping a watchful eye at all times—very much like a village raising kids."
Sage Tower Mumma, a Pittsburg native, moved to Maryland in 1970 with her husband, who worked for NASA. The Mummas hunted around the Annapolis area before settling in 1976 on a home overlooking Asquith Creek in Arnold's Glen Oban community. A waterfront community with boat slips, pool, tennis courts, playground, and walking paths, Glen Oban features homes set on spacious lots, many with attractive views.
"We can't imagine a better place," she says. "It has access to excellent medical care, good social opportunities, and good education for all ages. Where else can we find this? It's too nice to ever leave."
Sage taught math at Broadneck High for 14 years while raising the couple's two children.
"My husband and I grew up in places where we could bring home snakes and turtles and we wanted our kids to have that opportunity, too."
Along with Lucy Iliff and Betsy Morrison Craig, Sage was one of the early organizers of the Arnold Preservation Council and is vice president of its board of directors.
Sage has been working with Alberta Stornetts, who lives just outside the Arnold borders, on a compilation of Arnold history. Five historical articles by Alberta have been posted on the website of the Arnold Preservation Council and a book, "Arnold MD and Neighbors on The Broadneck," is due to be released in the late fall by Bay Media of Severna Park.
Also collaborating with Alberta on her book project are Alverta Darden and Bernadett Pruitt. Alverta who now resides in Severna Park, but grew up in Arnold and attended two of the area's Rosenwald schools, built for black students. As a teen, she graduated from the all-black Wiley Bates High School in downtown Annapolis. When area schools desegregated and a new Arnold Elementary School was built and opened in 1967, Alverta was the school's first African-American instructor. Bernadette Pruitt, a state government employee now living in downtown Annapolis, traces her ancestral roots in Arnold to 1878. One of her grandfathers was the founder of Mt. Calvary UM Church and established Shirleyville, a black community near Arnold Park.
William "Bill" Schriefer grew up and still lives on farmland adjacent to College Parkway that was once owned by John Arnold, a veteran of the War of 1812. John Arnold is never far from Bill's mind: the old soldier is buried a few yards from Bill's front door.
Once a 94-acre truck farm, it is less than 12 acres today. Bill, now 88, has memories of the bootleggers who handed out candy to local kids in the late 1930s. He knew they were not farmers; the bootleggers wore fancy suits, an anomaly during the Depression. Bill recalled the bootleggers operated stills and a bar near the end of Shore Acres Road.
As a young man, he supplemented his income as a machinist by farming land he leased from a neighbor, Wilmer Stone. That land is now Arnold Park, county parkland.
"We enjoy living here," says resident Milia Cristou. "We love our neighbors and like the peacefulness of the area and its great location."