The content on this page was excerpted by William A. Andersen in 1999 and the photographs were taken by William A. Andersen.
A Victorian Experience
"As compiled from many sources by Miss Lydia Berry, great-granddaughter of Dr. John G. Morris, the founder. October, 1967."
The Maryland Gazeteer for 1906 says that Lutherville was a "station on the North Central Railway, situated in Baltimore County, 2 ½ miles northwest of Towson Court House, the location of the nearest bank, and 10 [miles] north of Baltimore. Population, 600. Stage to Towson four times a day." The town had been started in 1852 by two Lutheran ministers, Drs. John Kurtz and John Morris, and Charles Morris, Dr. Morris’ brother and a Lutheran layman from York, Pennsylvania. The land they bought in 1851 had originally been a part of Mr. Charles Ridgely’s Hampton estate. Dr. Morris built his home, the first in Lutherville, in 1852. "Oak Grove" was owned by his descendants for over 100 years and some live in the village today.
These men realized the need for a school for young ladies south of the Mason Dixon Line, so they founded and built the Lutherville Female Seminary, chartered in 1853. In 1895 the name was changed to the Maryland College for Women. In January, 1911 despite the efforts of the Lutherville Volunteer Fire Department and the companies from Towson and Roland Park, all buildings burned except the gymnasium, still standing today. By October of 1911, a new college had been built that remained in existence until 1952 when it was closed; and reopened as College Manor, a home for the elderly.
In 1856 the cornerstone of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church was laid on ground donated by Dr. Morris. At first it was nondenominational without a regular pastor, the pulpit being filled by presidents of the Seminary. By 1869 it had become entirely Lutheran. The original wooden church building was torn down in 1898 when the present stone structure was built.
Other churches are also present in the community: The St.John’s Methodist Church, built in 1869; the Edgewood Methodist Church, built in 1870; and the Episcopal Chapel of the Holy Comforter, built in 1888.
The Reverend William Heilig, a Lutheran minister, built the Octagon house on Kurtz Avenue in 1855. This dwelling was said to have been the first concrete house in this part of the country. Rev. Heilig was also the postmaster and a Northern sympathizer; when Harry Gilmor’s raiders came and demanded money, he refused. They then drove his cattle into a swamp - an area today covered over by the beltway. When it was learned that the raiders were coming, silver was collected from the residents and hidden in a well on the Morris estate. The post office through the years has been in one end of the Lutherville Rail Road Station, the General Store at Morris and Front, then in the early 50’s in the Pollyette at Seminary and Front. In 1957 it was combined with Timonium on Ridgely Road near York (and subsequently moved to Deereco Rd.).
The railroad called the Susquehanna was begun in 1829 and ran from Baltimore to Harrisburg, PA. It was taken over by the Pennsylvania Railroad and called the North Central Branch, which runs through Lutherville and was at one time the western border of the village. Most men of Lutherville commuted to businesses in the city to work as bankers, lawyers, doctors, merchants, clerks; boys and girls rode to school; housewives went to shop and to market; some rode to churches; the girls from the Seminary and College were passengers. In June, 1959 the local was discontinued, leaving only expresses and freight trains. In 1912, an electric trolley line using batteries began to operate between Towson and Timonium, the batteries being charged after every round trip. The route coming from Towson cut under a bridge on Seminary Avenue, then along Division Avenue to Timonium Road. In 1922 lack of patronage made it impossible to continue "the Toonerville Trolley".
The Lutherville Volunteer Fire Department was organized in 1909 with equipment housed in a garage at 301 Morris Avenue, a building that is still standing. The department’s first motorized fire truck was purchased in 1913. It was not until 1928 that a new Engine House was built on Bellona Avenue at Division. In 1888, eleven years after the invention of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell, the first telephone central office was established in a general store operated by the Corkran brothers on the southeast corner of Front and Seminary Avenues, still standing. The exchange was moved to Towson in the early 1900’s.
The first public school, begun in 1883, was at 1508 Bellona Avenue and had 70 pupils and two teachers. The cornerstone for the new, two-story school at Melancthon, Division and Bellona Avenues was laid Sept. 14, 1901. There were no lavatories in this building until the early 1920’s when the cloak rooms were taken over for this purpose. A $700,000 new school on York Road was built in 1952.
Before the time of many automobiles, Lutherville was a very fashionable and popular summer resort, and boarders were housed in the College building and other places, such as 219 and 220 Melancthon Avenue, in the village. On a hill northwest of Lutherville stood an old farmhouse built in the early 1800’s. Mr. Joshua Frederick Cockey Talbot, born there, became a well-known congressman from this district. "Uncle Fred," at the time of his death in 1918, had served longer in Congress than any of his contemporaries. (The U.S.Navy later named one of its ships, the J. Fred Talbot, for him.) The old house burned down in 1929; the development in the area was first called Talbot Manor, later changed to Country Club Park.
A 90th Birthday celebration of the founding of Lutherville was held on May 20th, 1942, in the Engine House on Bellona Avenue. On Sunday, June 8, 1952, the Centennial Celebration of the village was held at the Maryland College. On both occasions there were interesting talks and community singing. Though many of the residents who arranged these celebrations are no longer living, surely it was their hope that the tradition would be continued by a younger generation.
It is at this point that Miss Berry’s history ends. Those of us who are lucky enough to be living in this old village today are grateful to those who went before us and preserved the wonderful Victorian flavor of our homes, our streets, this land and its trees and gardens. We welcome visitors to our village. We are continuing our efforts to keep it as peaceful and unchanged as possible so that we, too, can pass on what we have been heir to."
College Manor (2000)
St. Paul's Lutheran Church
St. John's Methodist Church
Episcopal Church of the Holy Comforter
220 Melancthon Avenue (1999)