Montebello Park Walking Tour, Part A
Come walk with us and win a prize! For a free cup of coffee, show your photo of one of the following two landmarks to the good folks at Zeke’s Coffee. On the Montebello Walking Tour A, take a picture of the Medal of Honor winner grave marker. On the Montebello Park Walking Tour B, take a picture of the former home of All-American and professional football player, Jack Scarbath.
Welcome to a historic walking tour of Montebello Park, one of the earliest housing areas in historic Lauraville.
Montebello Park is the subdivision west of Harford Road and south of what is now Cold Spring Lane. It is the earliest subdivision development in Lauraville. As transportation improved with street car service extended from the city, parts of farm estates were sold off as subdivisions to build homes for former city dwellers seeking country living near town.
WALKING TOUR “A”
>Begin your walking tour at the intersection of Elsrode and Grindon Avenues, near the Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery.
2824 Grindon Avenue. In the 1880s William Culver rented this house and lived there with his family. He made a living as a cooper (a workman who built containers such as barrels, tubs and butter churns). This was a vital occupation as many farmers in the area transported goods between Baltimore City and Harford and Baltimore Counties. It was this interdependence between those who produced food and those who made that work possible that built up the crossroad towns from which Lauraville emerged and Montebello Park was subdivided. Later in the 1910s, Joseph Byer, his wife and daughter, both named Elizabeth, lived in this house and farmed chickens, eggs and small produce. They built and rented the duplex you see at 2816 where another daughter, Margaret, raised a family that has remained in the home for 100 years. (Oral history from a member of the Ruck family will son be available.)
2816 Grindon Avenue. Grindon “Lane” was once the main east-west farm road from Harford road, pre-dating East Cold Spring Lane. Travelers stopped at the well for water for themselves and horses at a pump near the circa 1870 Victorian farmhouses you see at 2816 and 2824 Grindon Avenue. The spring still runs underground, watering roses in nearby gardens and creating an indentation stream between the two properties.
Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery. The oldest section of the Lauraville settlement is the area near the Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery where a number of the original farming settlers, many of them German Lutherans, are buried. The structure just inside the cemetery wall was built as a caretaker’s house in the 1880s. Early caretakers included the Schwartz family (see 2801 Grindon Avenue below) and the Baumgartner family.
As you start your tour inside the cemetery you will note some of their names, including the Weitzel family. Take the first left as you walk toward the chapel and at the second to last row near the Hagedorn family, you will see a military marker belonging to John J. Thompson, winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor during the Civil War. Other noted burials include the Goetze family (Goetze’s candy and Goetze Meats) and Muhly family (Muhly’s Bakery), as well as the Major League Baseball player Johnny Neun (1900-1990). This Victorian era cemetery with its striking angel statues is beautiful in different light and seasons. Hopefully you have the time to linger here to enjoy it and the 1880s chapel in the center.
2803 Grindon Avenue. Recently used as a social club, the central structure is one of the last one-room school houses remaining in Baltimore City. Built prior to the Civil War, it was the primary school for children of Lauraville until Garrett Heights School in northern Lauraville (then called Ailsa Terrace) was built to serve the growing community on land donated by the Garrett family of the B&O Railroad.
2801 Grindon Avenue. Originally the family of Erdman Schwartz who emigrated from Germany in 1877, his wife Elizabeth and six children lived here when they were cemetery caretakers. As new housing was developed, this family moved to 4509 Weitzel Avenue and built greenhouses there. They worked as florists, carpenters and laborers interdependent with nearby businesses. The Schwartz families are found among the rolls of those who protected the community as volunteer firefighters and served in the military during both world wars. Ray E. Schwartz is buried in the cemetery as a casualty of service in the Navy during World War I. Later one of the sons Fred Schwartz married a fruit farmer from the List family and opened the once thriving pickle factory that you can see later on Grindon Avenue near Elsrode Avenue. The Schwartz family was recognized by the Lauraville community and Red Cross Auxiliary, along with other World War I veterans.
> Turn left at the corner of Grindon Avenue and Weitzel Avenue and walk west toward Montebello Terrace.
4520 Weitzel Avenue is a Victorian-style farmhouse with some stick elements built prior to 1900 and was occupied by the Ruecknacht family who were carpenters and contractors. This family was related to one of the original teachers at the nearby one-room schoolhouse.
> If you pause here at Weitzel Avenue and look down the hill toward the cemetery, you can see the features referred to in the geology overview. The hills and bedrock of the Herring Run create a fall line as it loomed above the eastward coastal areas that run down to the Chesapeake Bay. It also is a beautiful place to watch the sunrise and lovely open skies for star viewing.
4517 Weitzel Avenue. The Burgermeister family lived in this I-frame farmhouse that was built prior to 1900. In 1930 Mrs. Burgermeister was widowed and she and a few younger children were supported by son Paul, an electrician at a local factory and son-in-law Christopher who managed a nearby shoe store.
4513 Weitzel Avenue. This house was built prior to 1904 in Victorian farmhouse style with some stick elements. The current family has resided in this location since 1932.
4509 Weitzel Avenue. The Schwartz home (another I-frame farmhouse) and nursery sold flowers to customers from all over the city and county. Two more modern homes now sit where the greenhouses once stood. Nearby gardeners still find bits of age smoothed glass from that time period.
4510 Weitzel Avenue. Built in the 1840s and displaying an architectural example of Mansard roof, this farmhouse is a nod to the Second Empire style influence from France. The home is very close to its original condition except for screening in the porch and sunflower design door created by resident artist. Living here in the 1920s was Wilson R. Rutherford, manager of the radiator factory. Rutherford and his wife Alice had eight children. His son and namesake was a ship’s carpenter.
4506 Weitzel Avenue. This is an I-frame farmhouse occupied in 1920 by Arthur Mansfield and his wife Virginia. Dr. Mansfield was then 51 years old and a physician in private practice. His son Richard was a clerk on the steam railroad. This was the home in more recent years of beloved community volunteer Dot English who raised her family here. Mrs. English volunteered for Girl Scouts, blood drives and school bake tables for decades and in so many ways was a treasure to her neighbors.
4505 Weitzel Avenue. Robert and Isabel Carl lived here, both listed their occupations in 1930 as piano teachers. This house is also a good example of rehab utilizing typical Victorian features.
4504 Weitzel Avenue. This is an example of a pre-World War I duplex, shown on area map before 1898.
> Turn right at Weitzel Avenue and Montebello Terrace and walk north toward Mainfield Avenue.
2707 and 2705 Montebello Terrace appear on the map of Montebello Park by 1911 but possibly were built as early as the 1880s in the craftsman style.
> Turn left from Montebello Terrace onto Mainfield Avenue. At this intersection, 4411 Mainfield Avenue is likely to be over 100 years old and one of the earlier homes in Montebello Park. Not occupied at this time, it presents an opportunity for investment or homeownership in a vibrant historic community.
> As you walk down Mainfield Avenue toward Overland Avenue (headed west) you are facing toward Herring Run. On the far shore sits Morgan State University, a Historically Black College.
> This portion of Lauraville was part of a large country estate owned by John Work Garrett, director of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. At one point, the Garretts owned 1400 acres west of Herring Run. Mr. Garrett sold off lots to the Montebello Park development and many of the early homebuyers were employees of that railroad. Later the land was inherited by his daughter Elizabeth Garrett. She donated the land used for the Garrett Heights School in Ailsa Terraces in addition to large bequests to Johns Hopkins and many other area schools. (More history on the Garrett family as benefactors as well as some of the more controversial aspects of railroad leadership can be found on the Historic Reading and Resources page).
4403 Mainfield Avenue. In 1920 this house was occupied by J. Herbert Gordon and his family. He was a yard foreman for the B&O Railroad.
4311 Mainfield Avenue. This was the home of John W. Schultheis and his family. He was a crew dispatcher for railroad.
4306 Mainfield Avenue. This was the home in 1930s and 1940s of a ballistics researcher from Ceylon whose expertise was utilized at Aberdeen Proving Grounds at the start of World War II.
4304 Mainfield Avenue. This is a good example of the shingled cottages built here in the 1920s. This home has been in the same family more than 77 years and is very close to its original condition. Prior to moving here the same family can be found in the 1840, 1850 and 1860 census in Lauraville and can trace one of those early ancestors to participation in the battle of North Point in the War of 1812. Current residents of this block include a doctor, a substance abuse counselor, a grant writer, a retired jazz musician, a pigeon race hobbyist and a family member of the original Keene family.
> As you walk down the 2700 block of Woodsdale Avenue you are walking parallel to Herring Run with its woods on your right. Many workers and managers of the B&O Railroad as well as the “electric railroad” (meaning street car) employees are seen in the 1920 through 1940 census in this area. Current residents include a hospital administrator, an architect, teachers, social workers as well as gay rights/marriage activists.
> As you follow Woodsdale Avenue around to College Avenue you will see a more recent home from the 1990s. As you come to the 2700 block of Overland Ave. this ends Part A of the Montebello Park tour. You can pick up part B from the grass triangle in front of 2721 Overland Avenue to continue or you can make a left and walk back over Overland Avenue to Mainfield Ave. As you walk back toward Mainfield on Overland Avenue current occupants of this block include a peace activist who has done extensive work with the Women’s International League of Peace & Freedom, a private school teacher and a human resources professional and past president of the Lauraville Improvement Association. On your left at 2703 Overland Avenue is an I-frame farmhouse occupied in the 1930s and 1940s by an aircraft mechanic, Henry King.
END OF MONTEBELLO PARK WALKING TOUR PART A
Return to tour starting point. When you reach the end of the 2700 block of Overland Avenue, make a right on Mainfield Avenue. Return as you came to Montebello Terrace, go left at Weitzel Avenue and back to your starting point on Grindon Avenue.
Take a coffee break. Visit one of these local establishments for a snack, lunch or beverage.
Continue your tour. If you wish to continue your tour, please see Montebello Park Walking Tour Part B. Head east on Overland Avenue toward Harford Road from the grass triangle.