I live walking distance from Baltimore's Tuscany-Canterbury neighborhood. Last week I was extended an invitation to preview a non-multiple list residence along a tony section of Stony Run in Tuscany-Canterbury. It was early March and the first signs of Spring were catching my eye as I strolled through the neighborhood.
Tuscany-Canterbury is a 95 acre niche neighborhood that is surrounded by three of the most afluent communities in Baltimore City; Roland Park, Guilford, and Johns Hopkins University. Within the neighborhood there is a natural boundary created by the Stony Run Stream Valley. In the 18th and 19th centuries the land was known as Cloverhill Farm on Merryman's Lott and it offered a rural respite from colonial Baltimore.
20th century architectural history is alive and well in Tuscany-Canterbury. There are a myriad of pronounced styles to be found in the neighborhood. The preview was at The Tuscany located at 221 Stony Run Lane, it was built following the end of World War I by Clyde Friz with John Russell Pope in the Italian Renaissance style. The Tuscany and The Lombary are owned by a community corporation as a coop. There are not a lot of coops to be found in Baltimore. If I were a New York City Realtor I'd tell you these properties have "pre-war charm". We don't use this term in Baltimore City, but the sentiment is the same.
The landscaping on the grounds surrounding these buildings is a true labor of love. Early Spring is the one time of year I can capture good images of the buildings. By the time April is here these buildings will be nestled in a bouquet of flowering trees and azaleas. The unit on preview was located on the ground level affording it's owners three distinct outdoor terraces. A little white dog was enjoying his role of keeping Realtors on the path to the front door. Back in 1920, this part of Baltimore City had a suburban feel.
Why non-MLS? (or you might say "pocket listing") These coops aren't for everyone. The list prices are low however the monthly maintenance fees are high, although they do include utilities. It is a style of community ownership that suits some but not all buyers. Board approval is required for purchase. The property in question was a beautiful residence that featured two distinct master suites. On paper it would be a "2 bedroom condo" and that definition would not work for people searching on Trulia or Zillow.
Speaking of searching online, some agents list Tuscany-Canterbury real estate as "Roland Park". Much of Tuscany-Canterbury is in the Roland Park school district. By zipcode, Tuscany-Canterbury includes 21210 and 21218. Remember, don't just search for "condos" you also have to search for "coops".
There are a number of attractive low-rise condo buildings in Baltimore's Tuscany-Canterbury neighborhood, the majority feature units priced under $200,000 (for the time being!) and at these prices its a safe bet that the properties are in need of some aesthetic updating. Click here to see a listing meeting this description I sold last year. Many of these properties include deeded garage parking. When you look at the sales data for these units over the last two years, a considerable amount have sold to cash buyers. Buyers who likely have an association with Johns Hopkins University. Most of these buildings are not FHA approved, so you'll need conventional financing if you plan to secure a mortgage.
When I think of Tuscany-Canterbury, I think Tudor style architecture. Most of these houses are attributed to John Ahlers architect and builder. A large end-of-group Tudor home sold for $575,000 in October 2012. These buildings have a theatrical quality in their ornamentation. Just look at the mix of materials; leaded glass, slate, brick, and handsome wood trim. They are the antithesis of federal style rowhouses that you'll find scattered all over Baltimore. For me they are equal parts fabulous and superfluous. There are blocks and blocks of Tudor style houses, however they are rarely available. People hold on to these properties for decades. It might help to send a letter out to the neighborhood to see if anyone is considering selling. If one comes on the market, be prepared to pounce.
Tuscany Court was built c.1940 by the Mullan Contracting Company. You'll find hardwood floors, fireplaces, bookshelves, and traditional floor plans. An end-of-group Tuscany Ct property sold for $320,000 in July 2012. When you experience these homes in-person, I think you'll find they are well worth the price.
English style rowhouses on Canterbury and Cloverhill were built between 1916 and 1920 by George Morris. They were built to be more modest than the grand residences of Bolton Hill, yet larger than the millworkers houses you can find in Hampden. They seem designed with the academic community in mind. These residences have two upper floors of bedrooms, the top floor having rooms that are sized for children or live-in servants (more like home-office in today's world). Cloverhill properties change hands more frequently than the Tudor style houses and the the prices over the last two years have ranged from $320,000 - $400,000 depending on upgrades and location. Most of these houses have decks constructed in the backyard. The decks form a community of outdoor entertaining along the alleys. Underneath the decks you'll find small garages. Just look what I found this weekend when exploring a listing on Cloverhill Rd.....
I believe this is a c.1937 Hudson. The property is an estate sale and the terms are "as is". Do you think this car comes with the house? My buyer says "yes!". I wonder if he'll sell it to finance a new kitchen because the banana colored appliances were c. 1975. That is one sweet ride.
Would you prefer to lease in Tuscany-Canterbury? Check out the Ambassador Apartments. This is a sophisticated rental option for people getting acclimated to Baltimore. A curator friend of mine selected this location when she first came to town, it is walking distance from Johns Hopkins University and The Baltimore Museum of Art. Say the name "Ambassador" in Baltimore and most people are going to think of the remarkably good Indian restaurant bearing the same name that is located in the lobby and enclosed gardens of the Gothic-Revivial-meets-Tudor-style building.
Not everything in Tuscany-Canterbury was built before World War II, Mies Van Der Rohe's Highfield House is located on Charles St on the east side of the neighborhood. Click here to read more about this amazing building. Baltimore's Tuscany-Canterbury neighborhood is ringed by large condo buildings which house some of Baltimore's most elite residents. The Highfield House, The Colonade, The Warrington & The St. James are the best options.
Buying real estate in Baltimore's Tuscany-Canterbury neighborhood is a good bet for someone in search of a sophisticated urban location that has a bygone glamour. Hierloom tomatoes, classical music, rare books; these are items you'll find in most Tuscany-Canterbury homes. There is something for nearly every budget and aesthetic preference. It's a neighborhood of civic-minded residents, the community association is very involved in shaping the future of the neighborhood. If you are a member of the Johns Hopkins University community, then you'll be in good company.
Broker / Owner Guerilla Realty and
Vice President Tranzon Fox Auctions
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