Lutherville – A Community Founded with a Purpose
It began as the vision of a Lutheran clergyman and his associates to found and build a school for young women that would embody the values of their faith. And so on a tract of land originally called “Regulation,” they established the village that became known as Lutherville and in 1854 opened the Lutherville Female Seminary.
The boundaries of the community now extend north from I-695, the Baltimore Beltway, to Ridgely Road, and east from I-83, the Harrisburg Expressway, to York Road. What lies within was part of the 2,000 acre estate of Mr. Charles Ridgely known as “Hampton.” By the mid-1800s, much of it was acquired by two prominent Lutheran ministers who then founded and built the Lutheran Female Seminary there, which was chartered in 1853. In 1895, it became the Maryland College for Women.
By then, the village surrounding the school had attracted new families, many of them headed by businessmen who commuted daily into Baltimore via the Northern Central Railroad. In addition, the community became a fashionable and popular summer resort in the years preceding the era of the automobile. For a time, it also had its own summer theater group known as The Hilltop Players.
The LVFC’s Origins
Until the early 1900s, Lutherville residents depended on their own well for drinking water. Water for other household purposes usually came from cisterns that caught rainwater, which was then pumped by hand into the homes. In the spring of 1909, Baltimore County completed the extension of water mains into the community and installed hydrants that could be connected to hoses for fire fighting. In October of that year, the Lutherville Volunteer Fire Company was formed and began offering fire protection throughout the community.
The LVFC faced its greatest challenge one night in January of 1911 when fire broke out around midnight at the Maryland College for Women. As later described by Captain James P. Reese, the fire raged through the night as his volunteers, together with fire companies from Towson, Roland Park, and Govans, fought to bring it under control. After serving for 99 years first as a seminary, and then a college, the facility was closed in 1952. It was later opened as College Manor, a retirement community.
Originally, the Lutherville volunteers operated from a carriage house facing Franke Avenue near the corner of Morris Avenue. By 1928, however, the company had moved into a new firehouse on Bellona Avenue near Division Avenue. It was there that many community functions were held over the years, including meetings, dances, parties, and theatricals. In that sense, the firehouse functioned somewhat as a town hall, similar to the one that stood at the southwest corner of Franke and Seminary Avenues in the late 1800s and was the scene of lectures, recitals and a variety of social functions.