Home & Living

Hello, Neighbor: Seton Hill

Get to know the tight-knit rowhome community situated around St. Mary’s Park.
—Photography by Tracey Brown/Papercamera

This treasured enclave near downtown’s west side, formerly Baltimore’s French Quarter, is a tight-knit rowhome community situated around St. Mary’s Park, named for the historic Catholic seminary dating back to 1793. (The first of its kind in the U.S.) Most residences are small, well-preserved two- or three-story gabled rowhomes, with larger exceptions from the early-to- mid-1800s. Close proximity to Light Rail and bus lines adds convenience and walkability, and brick sidewalks, hearty street trees, and a varied cadence of rowhome façades amount to rustic urban charm.

Few neighborhoods have such easy access to live theater (Arena Players, Everyman Theatre, Hippodrome Theatre at the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center), art and history museums (The Walters, Maryland Center for History and Culture), and live music or other performances (Le Mondo, Current Space, Eubie Blake Cultural Center). Spiritual history is enmeshed via the central placement of St. Mary’s Seminary Chapel, a 216-year-old Neo-Gothic sanctuary, and the adjacent Mother Seton House, formerly home to the country’s first American-born Catholic saint and now serving as a museum.

Walkable grocery options include Garden Produce at Lexington Market, Save-a-Lot in Bolton Hill, and Streets Market downtown. Various streetwear and natural goods shops have popped up around Lexington Market along Howard and Eutaw, and Benedetto Haberdashery is a trusty men’s fashion go-to on Park Avenue.

The community tends dutifully to St. Mary’s Park, a 6.5-acre, triangular green oasis with gently sloping tree-shaded lawns, a fountain, and walking paths. The park holds space for all, from morning walkers to warm-weather picnickers to cyclists convening for the lively Baltimore Bike Party launch point. Social canines will also appreciate the nearby Howard Street Dog Park.

Trinacia, the 116-year-old Paca Street Italian deli/market, is the neighborhood’s pride and joy for sandwiches, pasta, cookies, and assorted kitchen goods and Italian delicacies. Within a 10-minute walk are dozens of stalls at Mount Vernon Marketplace and Lexington Market, coffee and artisanal teas (Dear Globe, Ceremony Coffee, Cuples Tea House), vegan ice cream (Cajou), Ethiopian (Addis, Tabor), and more on downtown’s west side and in Mount Vernon.

Neighbor Spotlight
Karen French, art conservator at The Walters Art Museum, president of the Seton Hill Association, and a neighborhood resident of 27 years.

“I love the fact that I look out of my window and I’m looking at trees. St. Mary’s Park is basically my yard. When you look in the park, it’s like a little European enclave, but then you look in the background and see the modern city. Both my husband and I could walk and cycle from the neighborhood, and that was a huge appeal.

“At the time when we had kids, very few people had children here. Now there’s a lot more people having young children. I knew the neighbors; the kids knew the neighbors. The kids went to climb the trees in St. Mary’s, and they would ride their bikes in the park. Even though we’re in the heart of the city, we have that intimacy. The neighbors are across the street, and you can keep an eye on them. We look after each other, which is a nice thing in the city that I think doesn’t always happen everywhere.”

Neighborhood Stats

Population: 1,129 Occupancy Rate: 89 percent Owner/Renter Split: 15 percent/85 percent Median Home Purchase Price: $91,000 Estimated Monthly Mortgage: $621 Estimated Rent: $1,270 Walk Score: 91 Transit Score: 100

—Sources: Baltimore City Department of Planning, Live Baltimore