The Abell Community, which celebrated its centennial throughout 2011, held an annual meeting today in Huntingdon Baptist Church. Thirty residents from nine square blocks belonging to Abell Improvement Association (AIA) showed up to elect new officers and talk about common concerns.
One was questions about the actual safety of the roundabout constructed by the City at 32nd and Guilford along a designated pathway for cyclists. Not everyone is convinced it is slowing traffic down; observers have noticed drivers actually speeding up when approaching it and failing to yield any right of way.
The neighborhood got its name from A.S. Abell, founder of the Baltimore Sun, who had a summer estate that ran between Charles Street and York Road called Guilford which is where Oakenshawe is today. The Abell area developed on the Wilson estate which was called Huntingdon.
While being in the Charles Village Community Benefits District and associated with the Charles Village Community Association, AIA maintains its own independence and identity wedged from 29th to 33rd between Guillford and Greenmount with Vineyard and Merryman Lanes crossing to the south and north.
Given the roughly five hundred households and a couple of apartment buildings, it is easy for folks there to recognize each other by face and AIA makes a real effort to socialize and see that residents know their neighbors. Their ability to do this has been aided by having common green space where they have picnics, summer films and a playground for children,
But AIA members don’t stop there. They have progressive suppers skipping from home to home, an annual chili cook-off and one of Baltimore’s Best block parties, the Abell Street Fair, held every September.
A bi-monthly newsletter often features historic portraits of former residents. On the webpage can be found advise on the importance of peace and quiet and observing community standards. See www.abellimporvement.org. The compact size of the community contributes to its cohesion. The many painted lady row houses demonstrate homeowners‘ pride and joy. Kiosks placed throughout the neighborhood provide community notice boards.
While primarily residential, there is some commerce, the most successful being the bustling 32nd Street Farmers‘ Market every Saturday of the year, Book Thing, Normals, Trinidad Gourmet and coming soon in an old bottling plant, Charm City Brewery.
Huntingdon Baptist Church and the old Mt Zion Church bookend Barclay between 31st and 32nd with stories about how the races have been kept apart throughout much of the city’s history. The story of the segregated school that stood at Merryman Lane and Brentwood Avenue will soon be told with the mounting of an historic sign funded by the 32nd Street Farmers’ Market by the vacant lot Waverly Main Street has adopted behind an office at 427 1/2 Merryman Lane.
The sign will be unveiled and new green space celebrated at a St. Patrick’s Day ceremony 10:00 am Saturday March 17, 2012.