Commencement Speakers: The Highlights

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No Oprah- or Obama-caliber superstars will descend on Baltimore this graduation season, but the speakers’ docket is still full of intriguing talent and fascinating lives. This years’ speakers include a soprano, an NFL players advocate, and a bevy of journalists and non-profit executives. A few notable speakers include:

Johns Hopkins‘ university-wide commencement on Thursday, May 26 will feature Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN’s flagship foreign affairs show, Editor-at-Large of TIME Magazine, columnist at the Washington Post, and New York Times bestselling author.

The SAIS ceremony — also May 26 — will include a speech by Josette Sheeran, executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme.

Slated to speak at Peabody  (May 26 as well) is soprano Marni Nixon, “the voice of Hollywood,” who overdubbed the singing voices in movies including My Fair Lady, West Side Story, The King and I, and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

For its May 26 commencement, the Johns Hopkins School of Education snagged Gary Knell, president of the Sesame Workshop, who helped bring Sesame Street to far-flung places including Egypt, South Africa, Russia, and China.

Goucher‘s got Dr. Ian G. Rawson, the managing director of Hopital Albert Schweitzer in Haiti speaking on Friday, May 20.

On Friday, May 13 Stevenson will feature journalist Kimberly Dozier, formerly of CBS News and now with the Associated Press. Dozier recently penned an account of her time as a correspondent in Iraq and Afghanistan — and her recovery after being wounded in a car bombing that killed a colleague.

Morgan State‘s speaker is Ruth Simmons, the first female president of Brown University and the first African American to serve as president of any Ivy League institution. The ceremony takes place on Saturday, May 21.

Towson’s commencement on Wednesday, May 25 will include a speech by Scott Pelley, who is slated to replace Katie Couric as CBS Evening News anchor.

DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association, lends some wisdom at the University of Maryland’s graduation ceremony in College Park on Thursday, May 19.

Country Feel in City Limits

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Hot House: 1022 Saint Georges Road, Baltimore, 21210

Storybook stone lodge/compound on 3.5 acres in North Roland Park: $2,195,000

What: Built in 1900, a Tudor style estate home, a hunting lodge in the city. Owned by recently deceased prominent attorney H. Morton “Mort” Rosen, who clearly loved to entertain. Formal living and dining rooms on the first floor are impressive — masculine but still warm-feeling, with a wood-paneled library, sun room and eat-in kitchen. Downstairs, a second catering kitchen and giant oak-paneled, timber-ceilinged great room, with huge fireplace and French doors out to the garden.  Awesome gathering space for big groups of family/friends. Five bedrooms, four full baths. Could use a little updating, mainly cosmetic, as the place has been scrupulously cared for. The grounds are landscaped and lovely, private and partly wooded.   Surprising that there’s no pool, although plenty of space for one.   

Where: at the end of a long private lane on St. Georges Road–one of  north Baltimore’s most beautiful streets.  Nice for walking, and good access to Roland Park amenities, private schools, post office, grocery and Starbucks. 

Why: One of a kind, extremely private home in the city. Masterful stonework outside and no-expense-spared details inside all done with great taste. 

Why not: House is a little dark, although views of the sunny, landscaped grounds are nice. 

Would suit: City lovers who need their own space. Don Corleone.

A Charming Farm House

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Hot House:  1201 Western Run Road, Cockeysville, 21030  

 19th century farmhouse, updated,  with 61+ acres on the Western Run:

 $1,345,000

What: A circa 1800 stone house that sits at the top of a long driveway, winding through the woods and over a private bridge.  The original two room structure has had several additions and a major expansion in 1994 by architect Walter Ramburg  to get to its current incarnation — a rambling, three bedroom, three ½ bath home with state of the art appliances, heating and cooling systems.  Large master suite on the second floor features a balcony overlooking the pool and gently rolling woods. Downstairs, a modern timbered kitchen (lots of wood trim here) and family room have similar views and an irresistibly cozy, dark, beam-ceilinged den with large Colonial fireplace and hand-hewn cupboards  — the main room of the original farmhouse. Lovely wooded property features a 50’ pool as well as a 1850’s timber barn — built for cattle, but suitable for horses or renovation as a studio. Adjoining guesthouse has two bedrooms and a kitchen, ideal for visiting family or friends with children.   

Where: Western Run Road – the lone old-fashioned charmer in a development of  new mansions in the hills behind the Hunt Valley Mall. 

Why: The woods, fields and mile of river frontage along the Western Run (a tributary of the Gunpowder River) are protected from development by the Maryland Environmental Trust, and a haven for native birds and wildlife.  

Why Not: Long driveway and old trees give a rural impression, but over-scale neighboring properties are a little too close.  Limited views  of the beautiful countryside from the house.

Would Suit: bird -watching Wegmans shopper. 

What $350,000 Buys in Baltimore

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So what does $350,000 buy you in Baltimore? Well, it depends where you’re looking. We chose seven of our favorite neighborhoods and a $350,000 ballpark – a respectable, but not luxurious amount to play with.  If a house is listed higher than $350,000, it means we think you could make an offer. The ‘Zestimate,’ as most of you will know, is the Zillow real estate website’s take on what a house is really worth.  This is what we found:

Mt. Washington  – median listing price: $295,000

Ahhh ….the charm of village life –cafes, bars, cute shops, Whole Foods, (a pottery studio!) — together with rolling hills and generous wooded lots. Mt. Washington has a lot of diversity for a high-end suburban-feeling neighborhood. Maybe it’s the super public school or maybe it’s the easy access to the light rail stop, but that diversity is a big selling point when it comes to raising a family. It takes a village… 

5911 Bonnie View Drive, 21209

Price: $350,000

Zestimate: $404,000

3,090 sq. ft.

.62 acre lot

Built: 1967

 

Architectually intriguing with a ‘60’s vibe, a classic modernist house in the woods. 5 bedrooms and 3 baths, with custom cabinetry, built-ins, and shelving throughout. Wood burning fireplace, hardwood floors. Walls of glass overlook a  private wooded (re:low maintenance) lot.  Pretty cool. Near Mt. Washington Village.

 

Hampden – median listing price $169,600

Trendy Hampden, with its blue collar attitude and relatively inexpensive real estate, is a mecca for artists and hipsters. The kitschy storefronts on it’s bustling Avenue (36th Street) reflect this, but look a little closer and you’ll find some seriously good food, wine and fun shopping. This is Baltimore’s fastest-growing retail district. Your public elementary school here is five star Medfield, and it’s just minutes to Wyman and Druid Hill parks.

3669 Ash Street, 21211

Price: $205,000 (with $$$ to spare – this place could be a little dream home)

Zestimate: $179,000

1,853 sq. ft.

.07 acre lot

Built in 1880

 

Lovely stone mill house with charm to spare, situated on a quiet hillside street. House has been completely renovated within the past 10 years and is technically in move-in condition, but has potential for much more. 3 bedrooms, 2 ½ baths. Large kitchen and master suite with attached full bath. Wood floors and tons of closet space, unusual for an older home.  Downstairs mudroom. Walk over to the Avenue, or up to the light rail and Woodberry Kitchen.

 

Federal Hill — median listing price $325,600

‘Historically hip’ and ‘eternally stylish’ according to Baltimore Magazine’s Neighborhood Guide, Federal Hill has more history than you can shake a stick at, from the Hill to the Cross Street Market. Cobblestone streets and period homes are a visual treat, and so are views across the Inner Harbor and Federal Hill Park. There is a real neighborhood feeling here, with book clubs, dog walking groups and life-long residents. But there’s new energy and spark in the eclectic art and ongoing events at the American Visionary Art Museum and the culinary delights of Light Street. Federal Hill in 2011 is pure urban joy. 

208 East Cross Street

Price: $399,000

Zestimate: $278,500

1,285 sq. ft.

small courtyard garden 

Built: 1920

 

A Federal style attached row house, with a bright and sunny aspect, in historic Federal Hill. Three bedrooms and two baths over four stories, and a three level atrium. It’s the flood of light and generous room size that distinguishes this house, with landscaped courtyard, full basement with great storage and nice, updated features. Walk to downtown Baltimore, Orioles Park, light rail and MARC train to DC.

 

Patterson Park – median listing price $109,900

A little more gritty than Federal Hill, and way more ethnically diverse, Patterson Park is tucked between Canton and Johns Hopkins Hospital, a former landing-point for generations of Eastern European immigrants. But real-estate here is well priced, and the wide-open space of Patterson Park (155 acres in the heart of the city, with ice rink and swimming pool) is all yours. Patterson Park was recently included in Southern Living’s list of 10 Best Comeback Neighborhoods, and is home to several popular restaurants, including Salt.

8 Milton Avenue North, 21224

Price: $369,000

Zestimate: none available 

1,960 sq. ft.

no lot: but Patterson Park is your front yard …

Built: 1920

 

 

Right on the park, this 3 bedroom townhouse has 3 full baths and a deluxe master bedroom suite with balcony and views. A total recent rehab has left it still with plenty of charm, plus custom finishes, modern appliances, hardwood floors, granite countertops and finished family room. Maybe not a ‘forever’ house, but great for a young Hopkins doc.

Private parking, too.

 

Harbor East – median listing price $418,000

Harbor East is not a neighborhood in the traditional sense, but it is home to some of the best Baltimore has to offer. Centered around several luxurious waterfront condominiums, it’s all here — sushi and shoes, Charleston and Whole Foods, Landmark Cinema, South Moon Under and an ever-changing landscape of pop-up shops. For the young, or not-so-young Baltimore urban professional, this is as close as it gets to Manhattan.

250 President Street #602, 21202

Price: $375,000

Zestimate: $315,000

1858 sq. ft.

Built: 1988

condo

 

Inner Harbor high-rise living, complete with the amenities of fitness center, indoor pool, parking and a 24 hour front desk. This 2 bedroom, 2 bath, open-plan condo has wood floors, a fireplace, granite countertops and modern kitchen, as well as storage room and a stunning balcony. 250 President Street is in the heart of the Harbor, Little Italy, Fells Point and all the excitement of the city.

 

Rodgers Forge – median listing price $210,000

Exactly 9.5 miles from the towers of the Inner Harbor, leafy Rodgers Forge might be the next stop for that now married-with-kids urban professional. On offer are great public schools, a communal children’s playground known as the Tot Lot, and the quiet, intergenerational aspect of a long-established neighborhood. There’s no fine dining in these parts, but the comforts of Bill Bateman’s, Chipotle and Panera await on nearby York Road. Real estate values here tend to climb slowly and steadily, and the houses’ solid curb appeal will convince your parents you’ve finally grown up.

416 Hopkins Road, 21212

Price: $349,000

Zestimate: $315,000

2,310 sq. ft.

.05 acre lot

Built: 1935

 

A well maintained Tudor-style townhouse with an impressive stone exterior, a nice brick patio in the back and a detached garage. It has 4 bedrooms and 2 full baths, as well as a finished third floor. Your dad will say ‘they don’t build ‘em like this anymore’ noting the solid paneled doors, nice hardware and gleaming hardwood floors.. The windows have been recently replaced. Ditto the roof, and the kitchen has been nicely renovated – so you should be good for the next 50 years or so. 

 

Bolton Hill – median listing price $298,700

Less historic, but more swank than the downtown city neighborhoods, Bolton Hill is rich in aesthetics — church steeples, marble staircases, huge trees – and stylish art students from nearby MICA. It’s a small collection of architectural gems, urban mansions and townhouses – very congenial, if a little short on street life. The expanding presence of MICA seems to be changing that, and there are a good handful of coffee and sandwich shops, but for now you still need a car to get your groceries. Five hundred dollars buys a resident membership in the Bolton Swim and Tennis Club, a huge draw for families with kids. 

1615 Park Avenue #2,  21217

Price: $369,000

Zestimate: $288,000

2,188 sq. ft.

Built in 1903

Condo

 

Huge! The condo takes up the entire second floor of one of Baltimore’s finest old turn-of-the-century mansions (think Mary Tyler Moore). This is living on a grand and elegant scale, with high ceilings and oversized windows that look out onto Park Avenue gardens and fountain. Hardwood floors, two wood-burning fireplaces (never mind how you get the wood up there) and deep ceiling moldings are some of the historic details. There’s a chef’s kitchen with a big granite island for nights when you can’t face the two minute walk to b bistro as well as 2 good size bedrooms and 2 full baths –all new and in top condition.

 

 

 

 

 

Anti-Sheppard Pratt Forces Organize

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Along Bellona Avenue this week signs objecting to the Sheppard Pratt mental health residential treatment home sprouted along the road. The signs direct readers to the website for Neighbors Against the Sheppard Pratt Hotel which has over 230 Facebook likes. While opposition is mounting, the hospital completed the sale last week and plans to go forward with opening the six-bedroom home on LaBelle Avenue. Like it or not, there is little residents can do: Sheppard Pratt’s proposal is protected by federal and state housing laws.

Film Fest Standouts

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Our past visits to the Maryland Film Festival have left us surprised, shocked, entertained, engaged — but never bored. The cinematic celebration returns this weekend, and features films both foreign and domestic, short and long, classic and cutting-edge, odd and odder. Our picks for some must-see screenings are below; check out the full schedule here.

 

Meek’s Cutoff
Saturday, May 7 (8:30 PM)
Charles Theater
Kelly Reichardt, a rising star in American independent film, explored the subtle tensions of daily life in the Pacific Northwest in her films Old Joy and Wendy and Lucy to a low-key, memorable effect. Now, she turns her attention to that classically American genre, the Western, and we can’t wait to see the results. This film follows a wagon train of hopeful settlers (most notably Michelle Williams) searching for safe passage through the Cascade Mountains in 1845.  Low supplies, an untrustworthy guide, the sudden appearance of an Indian — Reichardt’s quiet subversion of Western conventions makes for a fresh and startling story.

My Joy
Saturday, May 7 (11:00 AM)
Charles Theater
Looking to recapture that feeling of dread and exhilaration that last year’s film fest hit Dogtooth left you with? Our pick for bleakest story on the screens this year is Ukranian filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa’s ironically titled My Joy. At once a day-in-the-life depiction of Georgi, a truck driver, and a dark commentary on the madness of post-Soviet society, My Joy is provocative, brutal, and thrilling.

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
Friday, May 6 (1:30 PM) & Sunday, May 8 (2:00 PM)
Charles Theater
Or maybe you’re over bleakness.  Earlier this year, A. O. Scott noted that Uncle Boonmee’s “contemplative mood and genial, curious spirit….encountered in an appropriately exploratory frame of mind [could] produce something close to bliss.” Exploratory is the key word here; this lush Thai film, which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2010, features surreal touches, including ghosts, spirits emerging from the jungle, and other shadowy beasts.

Alloy Orchestra Presents Masters of Slapstick
Sunday, May 8 (11:00 AM)
Charles Theater
A film festival tradition, the Alloy Orchestra writes and performs original scores to accompany silent films. This year is your chance to watch their embellishments of a series of short films featuring everyone’s favorite wordless masters of physical comedy: Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin.

Photo by Rich Riggins, courtesy Maryland Film Festival

Prisitine Roland Park Victorian

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Hot House: 117 Beechdale Road, Baltimore, 21210

Classic Victorian, all systems go, in the heart of Roland Park:

$995,000

What: A beautifully renovated Victorian, circa 1905 — that rare Roland Park house with everything in perfect working order –no peeling paint, no clanking radiators, and insulation!  A recent and total makeover, which included central air as well as all new windows and doors, has transformed this house into a high quality home with major curb appeal. From the welcoming porch, a gracious foyer leads to a generously proportioned living and dining rooms, both with wood burning fireplaces (think winter dinner parties in front of a glowing fire). Sunny windows draw you straight through to the back of the house, where a brand new custom cook’s kitchen promises a lifetime of great eating and big windows look up towards the big back yard, complete with big old trees and tasteful play area. Sleek but practical mudroom is a bonus. Upstairs, luxurious master bed and bath, walk-in closets and additional pretty bedrooms offer period touches like built in cupboards and polished wood floors. A nicely finished basement is now and would be, perfect for kids.  Side driveway with parking pad a plus, as is easy access to Rt. 83.  

Where: Between Falls Road and Roland Avenue, near the old Baltimore Country Club golf course. Walk to Eddie’s, walk to schools, walk to Petit Louis. Roland Park is in northwest Baltimore, a historic neighborhood designed by the Olmstead architectural firm (NY Central Park) – a ten minute drive to downtown. 

Why: A wide wraparound porch, great landscaping with a show-stopping planting of hostas in front, and modern, south-facing kitchen overlooking the terraced back yard – and all above-mentioned mod cons.

Why not: House sits up off the street, so requires some stair taking unless you’re first to the parking pad.

Would suit: Old house family who (heart) City Life, but not the hassles of city living.

 

Q & A With "Modern Family" Star Julie Bowen

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We asked Modern Family star and Baltimore girl-done-good Julie Bowen (nee Luetkemeyer) a few questions about life, the secrets to her success and growing up in Baltimore (in Woodbrook). We learned the Brown University alum and mother of three is not wholly unlike the funny, self-deprecating, lovable character she plays on TV.

Sum up your life philosophy in one sentence.
If everyone gets to bed with a clean diaper and minimal whining, I win!

When did you define your most important goals, and what are they?
I thought my most important goals were career related, and in some ways they still are.  I love working and get (overly?) excited about new jobs and the opportunity to work with creative people.  Having three kids in two years, however, has forced me to shift a great deal of focus outside of myself and my own goals which is, frankly, much more healthy.

What is the best advice you ever got that you followed?
My parents told me to get an education, whether I “used” it or not, and I did.  It is still the greatest thing I have ever done even if I rarely dig out Neoplatonism in cocktail conversation.

The worst advice, and did you follow it? Or how did you muffle it?
The worst advice was never direct as much as it was implied.  Some people in my life kept saying I was “lucky” to get jobs, and I shouldn’t push my luck by asking for better salaries or even better jobs.  I spent a great deal of time undervaluing myself, and still feel I have to fight against this mentality as a default mode.

What are the three most surprising truths you’ve discovered in your lifetime?

  1. Kids are amazingly fun.
  2. Kids are amazingly hard.
  3. One person, place or thing will never meet all of your needs. Get a deep bench and keep expanding.

What is the best moment of the day?
5 a.m. Coffee, email, and a book before I go running.

What is on your bedside table?
Half a broken toy truck,  crosswords, three books to read and a picture of my dearly departed dog.

What advice would you give a young person who aspires to do what you are doing?
Get used to hearing “no” and don’t take it personally.  Auditioning is a war of attrition, and if you can resist the urge to quit when you are sure you won’t get a job, you will eventually land on your feet.

Why are you successful?
Am I?  That’s hard to accept…I suppose I have success in acting because I really love it and didn’t look at my failures (there have been PLENTY) and rejections as deterrents.

What was the best thing about growing up in Baltimore?
The Orioles and lightening bugs.

What was the worst thing about growing up in Baltimore?
The humidity!

What do you miss most about Baltimore?
My parents and old friends like Lillie Stewart, Catherine Thomas and Emily Wilson….

What is the thing you must do/place you must visit when you are in Baltimore?
The Irvine Nature Center is the best.  My dad can’t survive without a trip to Tark’s (Grill).  And for culture, the Walters Art Museum is my favorite.

What is your favorite regional delicacy? 
Berger Cookies!!!!  Oh my god!  I always thought you could get those anywhere until I moved away from Baltimore.  What a horrible realization!

Eddie’s or Graul’s?
Graul’s!  The chicken salad alone is worth it.

The creator of “Modern Family” is also from Baltimore.  Do you two ever commiserate on the best and worst of Baltimore?  Did you know each other or any of the same people growing up?

Jason Winer (Friends School alum) directed Modern Family the first season and still has strong Baltimore ties.  We didn’t talk a whole lot of Baltimore, but whenever we did, we used the full-on Bawlmer accent, hon!

 

It’s Summer! Imagine it On the Water in this Spectacular Spot

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HOT HOUSE: 435 Ginn Lane in Pasadena, Md.

At auction: a one-of-a kind modern glass house and 3.51 acres with total privacy and views of Magothy River near the Chesapeake Bay. Suggested opening price:  $3.5 million. Sold to the highest bidder. 

What:  A beautiful, custom-designed glass house, built in 1997 for the late Leroy Merritt, developer and founder of Merritt Athletic Clubs.  An initial listing price of $7.9 million attracted no offers, and the house is being auctioned off on June 3 by Merritt’s estate. With high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling glass, the river views are spectacular from every room. At the top on the house is an observatory with 225 degree views. Sleek design and multiple levels of open living offer modern aesthetic appeal in a four-story, four bedroom home with four full and two half baths. Sunken living room and marble floors.  The grounds include a lovely pool, putting green, volleyball court and caretaker’s cottage. Private, waterfront land has a deep water pier with multiple boat slips and your own beach. This house was recently a Wall Street Journal  “House of the Day.”   

Where: A small rise on a private peninsula overlooking the Magothy River, Broad Creek and Sillery Bay. Pasadena, pop. 12,000, is on the western shore of the Chesapeake, near both Annapolis and Severna Park, about forty minutes from Baltimore. 

Why: A good chance to redecorate–even your mother-in-law will realize that her Victorian sofa won’t work here. Seriously, stunning views of sky and water puts the world in a different perspective.

Why Not: Visitors will be almost pathologically unable to resist comic observations about people who live in glass houses…

Would suit:  Water-loving millionaire with no urge to throw stones.


Lauraville for Hipsters with a Heart

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Hot House: 6400 Old Harford Road, Baltimore 21214

Sweet farmhouse Victorian  in the young and trendy neighborhood of Lauraville/Hamilton: $225,000

What: Sunny, charming and recently updated, this three bedroom, two-bath Victorian was built in 1920, when Hamilton was a making the transition from farmland to suburbs.  After years of decline from its working class roots, Hamilton is now one of the city’s great comeback neighborhoods, ethnically diverse and authentically Baltimore. Restaurants, art galleries, yoga centers, natural food and nightlife abound (checkout the Hamilton/Lauraville Main Street blogspot).  And 6400 Old Harford Road is an easy walk to everything.  The house features 9 foot ceilings, big windows, crown moldings and a wraparound porch. At 2,902 square feet and .3 acres,  it’s one of the largest houses around–you’ll be the envy of the neighbors, always a plus, and the large attic gives you potential for an easy 6 bedrooms.  Updated kitchen with breakfast nook, modern baths, new siding in’06, new roof in ’08. 

Where: Hamilton/Lauraville  is in the northwest corner of Baltimore City, bisected by Harford Road, and west of Northern Parkway. 10 minutes to Herring Run Park .

Why: young community, a real house in an up-and -coming hood with fun shops and great restaurants–walk to Hamilton Street Tavern! 

Why not: Great public schools? Not so much. Young families will need to check it out.  

Would suit: yoga teacher, college professor, hipsters with a heart.