Aptly named for its close proximity to Goucher College and for its gently rolling hills, Campus Hills is an enclave of 369 tri-level and rancher individual homes situated on 119 acres located in Towson. Developed in the mid-1950’s, the 119 acres are roughly in the shape of a crescent, beginning at the intersection of Goucher Boulevard and Fairmount Avenue, heading southeast along Goucher Boulevard before arching counter clockwise at Providence Rd. in a north then northwest direction ending at the beltway. The entire western and southwestern edge (inside edge) of the crescent borders the Goucher College property. The south and southeast edge borders non-Campus Hills residential property, the east edge borders Providence Road, and the north and northwest edge borders some commercial property and the beltway. (See the map page for a drawing of the crescent.)
The early history of Campus Hills is interesting. The property where Campus Hills (and the nearby historic Hampton Mansion) are located was first granted to Colonel Henry Darnall who immigrated to Maryland from England. It was surveyed in 1695 and was named “Northampton” due to his English ties. Upon his death in 1711, the land was inherited by his daughter who sold the approximately 1,500 acres to Colonel Charles Ridgely in 1745. The Colonel continued to acquire significant amounts of land, expanding his holdings to 11,000 acres, including acreage north of Hampton to establish an ironworks. The Colonel married and had two sons, the youngest of whom, Captain Charles Ridgely, was deeded 2000 acres in 1760, which included the “Campus Hills” land. Captain Ridgely married, but had no children, so upon his death in 1790, the property was divided among his four nephews. One of those nephews, Charles Carnan Ridgely, married and had ‘at least’ 14 children. One daughter married into the Chew family of Philadelphia and the “Campus Hills” land was given to them.
By the early 1950’s, part of the original “Campus Hills” land, now comprising 248 acres, was owned by Thomas and Edwin Gontrum. On December 6, 1954, the developers Ralph DeChairo and Anthony Sanzo purchased the 248 acres for $750,000. At the time of the purchase the property contained a main dwelling, two tenant houses, a wagon shed, and a two-story stone smoke house.
Of the 248 acres purchased, 77.5 acres was sold to the Notre Dame Preparatory School, 44 acres was taken by the then called State Roads Commission for the future beltway, 7.5 acres, already zoned commercial, was retained for commercial use, and the remaining 119 was retained for the Campus Hills residential development.
In the “June Cleaver” era of the 1950’s, the developers wished to design homes with considerate care and attention to the daily routines of housekeeping. Actual time-and-motion studies were made and plans were devised to reduce footsteps by the hundreds. The entire family was thought of and plans for recreation and family rooms were created. Special appointments were built into the Campus Hills home such as the all electric kitchen, including dishwasher, disposal, exhaust fan, and Formica matching surfaces. Other features included a house-wide intercom system operated from the kitchen, Moduflow, electronically controlled weather-anticipators, gas-fired burners and hot water heat with baseboard radiation.
The developers also wanted to insure at least minimum standards of quality, physical features, open space and economic integrity they had envisioned for the community by incorporating protective covenants into the property deeds that are recorded in the county land records. Originally the covenants were an agreement between the developers and each purchaser of a Campus Hills home. Then in April 1959 the developers assigned the covenants to the Campus Hills Community Association with the authority to administer, regulate and enforce the covenants. These recorded protective covenants in effect “run with the land” and are legally binding upon all original and subsequent generations of homeowners.
Campus Hills offered seven models primarily of brick construction, six tri-levels and one rancher. The six tri-levels, ranging from 3 bedrooms and 1-1/2 baths to 5 bedrooms and 3 baths, some with garages, were the Cromwell and Cromwell Deluxe, the Yorktown and Yorktown Deluxe, and the Warfield and Warfield Deluxe. The rancher with 3 bedrooms (or 2 bedrooms and a family room) was the Rutledge. To give a feeling of “non-development living,” except for the string of ranchers on the south side of Goucher Blvd., Campus Hills homes are adapted to the lot and have an interesting mix of various models being included on one block. Locust trees were uniformly planted throughout the community between the sidewalks and streets.
Campus Hills was built in three stages, the first section with 72 homes, the second with 160 homes and the third with 137 homes, for a total of 369 dwellings on lots that average ¼ acre. When Campus Hills homes went on sale in the latter half of 1955, the 232 homes in the first and second section sold on the first day. The first resident moved into the first section on July 24, 1956, and the first resident in the second section on December 6th. The third section move-ins began in January 1958.
Campus Hills residents became a vocal group early on and have continued to this day to speak their position on important covenant and zoning issues as they arise through their community association. The first evidence of community solidarity was apparent in the fall of 1956 when a group of first section owners joined with a group of second section owners to form an ad hoc committee to successfully protest rezoning of the property at the corner of Joppa and Providence Roads. This ad hoc committee grew to become what is now the Campus Hills Community Association, a non-profit association comprised of Campus Hills homeowners.