February 5, 2018 - Neighborhood Tour
On the final Friday of every month, Live Baltimore heads out of the office and into one of Baltimore's 278 neighborhoods. Each month, we love what we find! January was no different.
January's walking tour took us to the quiet neighborhood of Bolton Hill where many long-standing residents have created a welcoming community for new neighbors.
We kicked off our tour at Jon Kaplan's house by having a conversation with several community residents. Kaplan said he has lived in many neighborhoods since 1986 but none have compared to the allure of Bolton Hill. Mount Vernon, Roland Park, Charles Village, Mount Washington, Guilford and even Washington D.C. did not measure up to the magnetic charm of Baltimore's beloved Bolton Hill in Kaplan's eyes.
"Bolton Hill is home," he said.
He has lived in Bolton Hill twice before moving to his current townhome in Bolton Square, a historic development designed by Hugh Newell Jacobson.
Linda Rittelmann President of Mount Royal Improvement Association (MRIA) said she loves how centrally located her neighborhood is. Bolton Hill boasts easy access to transportation including Penn Station, in addition to being within walking distance to local amenities including Avenue Market and the State Center Community Farmers Market.
"It's close to work and the light rail for days I have to travel to Washington, D.C.," Rittelmann said.
Avendui Lacovara, a local real estate professional, also lives in the neighborhood said she moved to Bolton Hill when she was eight.
"I spent most of my time here growing up and I know a lot of people in my generation that have remained active in the neighborhood," she said.
But she wasn't always a local resident. After college, she moved to New York and was expecting her first child.
While living there, she thought to herself, "Why am I here? I can be in Bolton Hill." And that was that. She quickly made arrangements to move back to Baltimore, where she felt most at home. She has fond memories of growing up in the neighborhood and wanted to create that kind of atmosphere for her family. She still lives in the neighborhood with her husband and two kids and works to recruit new neighbors as part of her career.
Beautiful Historic Homes
In the 1930s or 40s, some townhomes in the Bolton Hill neighborhood and surrounding area were split into apartments. Luckily, John Kyle and Peter Satten's home wasn't separated. Kyle and Satten, long-standing Bolton Hill residents, said they upsized to the space they desired in the neighborhood to help better display their collection of pottery, paintings and other sorts of eclectic items.
Kyle recalled the process of reinstalling the original pocket doors to their former glory.
"The three sets of pocket doors were not installed, but lo and behold, they were on the third floor," Kyle said.
He described, in detail, the work that had to be done to restore the original doors. There were no tracks for the sliders but the doors were hinged. That means, at some point, the previous owners had the massive doors stored upstairs with no intention of bringing them down again.
"When we had the house painted, the painters moved the doors," Kyle said. "It took us five or seven years to find someone who could assemble all of the pieces that were needed."
One of the wheels was missing along with a few other small parts, but after a lengthy process and lots of patience, the diamond-patterned, glass pocket doors were restored and they are gorgeous.
In the Kyle and Satten house, the transition to upstairs and downstairs is mesmerizing. They renovated their basement as much as they could to resemble a modern living room setting with a kitchen. The topside of the house looks stately and historic while the bottom floor of their home is modern and updated. Everything from the floorboards to the walkout patio in the backyard has been meticulously and thoughtfully planned out.
In addition to gorgeous historic homes, this neighborhood also has stunning community spaces. The main gathering place for many neighbors is the Bolton Swim and Tennis club while other prefer to mix and mingle at community soup nights.
"It’s kind of cool because it’s a co-op," Rittlemann said. "You’ll get traveling Tupperware boxes that go with whoever hosts that week. A hosting couple will have all the bowls, spoons and wine glasses they'll need."
In addition to hosting many events to celebrate neighborly love, this tight-knit community also shows support for the local institution MICA and for their community services teams.
"In August we have a crab feast dedicated to those who take care of our neighborhood," Rittelmann said. "That includes MICA security, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), trash removal services and police officers. We just want to show them we appreciate them for taking care of our community."