March 2, 2018 - Neighborhood Tour
On the final Friday of every month, Live Baltimore heads out of the office and into one of Baltimore's 277 neighborhoods. Each month, we love what we find! February was no different.
Even on the dreariest of days, the Butchers Hill neighborhood is still vibrantly beautiful and filled with friendly neighbors and furry friends.
Our Butchers Hill neighborhood tour started at Dan Kiselik's gorgeous house on Baltimore Street. The home is a historically-renovated Victorian and one of the neighborhood's grandest houses.
"Our kids are grown up now," he said. "So when we were looking at houses, we knew we needed a home with enough space to accommodate them when they visit."
Kiselik, his wife and their massive Bouvier dog moved from New Jersey a little over a year ago. During the transition, he was unsure about fitting into a new community that is so vastly different from the suburban neighborhood they were moving from.
"People are important and that's what I thought I was giving up when we moved," he said. "But I'm feeling really fortunate."
The neighborhood, which has Patterson Park to the east, Washington Street to the west, Fayette Street to the north and Claremont to the south, has a robust neighborhood association that welcomed the Kiselik family.
The Butchers Hill Association hosts dozens of community-focused events each year in an effort to engage new and long-standing residents of the neighborhood, said Andrew Crummey, BHA President. From stoop sittings to a community flea market, there is sure to be an event to pique every neighbor's interest.
"We really aim to encourage people to take the time to get to know one another and engage in our community," Crummey said. "We're hoping to add more outdoor events because when you walk around the neighborhood and everyone is out, it's really something special."
Crummey, who led our walking tour, has three children who all have friends in the neighborhood, has a growing family that has decided to stay in the area.
"For us, the tipping point is that the current group of neighborhood kids are all very close in age," he said. "That has real staying power."
On any warm day, Amy Sheinin can look out her home's window toward a pocket park where kids, including Crummey's, can be found playing. The park backs up to an alley and has become a gathering space for parents who want to watch over their kids and meet up with other neighbors.
"We have a lot of families here," Sheinin said. "And we have a great blend of people who want to be around families."
Our walking tour took us past the park, which even on a wintery rainy day looked lusciously green. Residents take great pride in keeping the neighborhood tidy, but also in creating and maintaining gorgeous community spaces (there's a BHA committee for that!).
Just last year, the association installed trees into large planters throughout an alley known as the "Green Alley".
"Eventually the trees will grow to create a tree-lined alley," Crummey said.
The green alley is just one of the eco-friendly initiatives residents have been working on. Last year, they unveiled rain garden signs to help inform visitors and neighbors about the importance of rain gardens and greenery. Additionally, rain barrels were installed to help with upkeep of green spaces, including the trees in the alley.
SHOWCASING HOUSING DIVERSITY
And the planting of common-space trees also helps showcase the neighborhood for the biggest event of the year: The Butchers Hill House Tour.
Pat Phoebus, the chair of the neighborhood's House Tour committee, takes great pride in making sure the tour accentuates all parts of the neighborhood, which is extremely diverse from 700 square foot homes up to 5000+ square foot homes.
"Our goal is to let people know what is available in our neighborhood," she said. "We try to have about 10 houses on the tour and not repeat them for four to five years."
Such a diverse range of housing options brings together a diverse mix of people. From homeowners who work at Johns Hopkins to empty nesters, the neighbors vary in backgrounds and reasons for choosing Butchers Hill as their place to call home. For Kiselik, the house is what attracted him to the neighborhood. He's convinced that he and his wife made the right choice.
"Living here has been beyond my expectations," Kiselik said. "I have friends that range in age from four to 90 years old. When we first moved here, I needed a barber and my neighbor, who is five years old, recommended his. Now I that's where I go to get my hair cut. When we were first moving here we picked this community because we loved the house. Now we love the community, the people are first, the house comes after that."