Armistead Gardens – A Glimpse Back

Armistead Gardens’s newsletter “The Informer” interviews long-time resident Peggy Kirk

Armistead Gardens Community has many senior residents, who are some of the most dedicated, active and responsible neighbors. They have witnessed the e changes in our community over the years. Margaret Louise Kirk known to most as “Peggy” is one such resident.

Mrs. Kirk has lived in Armistead Gardens since 1944. When her sons were young, Peggy was active in the PTA and Cub Scouts. She also has been in local politics over the years. Currently, she is a member of the Board of Directors (she has served on the Board for 14 years), President of the Community Outreach Group, and Secretary of the Vestry for Faith Reformed Episcopal Church.

Peggy (Minton) was born in the small town of Jonesville, Virginia on August 24th, 1924. She remembers her rural childhood with fondness. Education was important to the Minton family. Her paternal grandmother, mother, maternal and paternal aunts, were all school teachers. Most had attended nearby Radford State Teachers College (as it was known then) in Radford, Virginia. Peggy also attended this college. It is interesting to note that this tradition has been carried on. Peggy’s granddaughter, Alethea, graduated from Radford. Peggy’s college education was interrupted by her romance with Marion Kirk. This was during the years of World War II, and the couple wanted to be married in the event that Marion was called to service. They married in 1943.

Meanwhile, spurred by war related industries Baltimore was flourishing economically. Due to the great influx of workers, Baltimore experienced a housing shortage. The federal government built Armistead Gardens in response to this growing need. Some members of the Kirk family, including Marion’s parents, migrated north to Baltimore for better paying jobs.

After a year of marriage, Peggy and Marion thought that, they also, might fare better in Baltimore. For a short time they rented an Apartment at North Avenue and Barclay street. Peggy, a country girl, hated living in Baltimore city. Once pregnant, her in-laws convinced them to move in with them. Peggy preferred living in Armistead Gardens. It was less urban than other city neighborhoods. There was a strong sense of community. World War II and shared social and economic conditions gave everyone a sense of kinship.

The Kirk’s had three sons David, Bobby, and Stanley. We asked Peggy how family life then, was different from today? She said without the distractions of  television and video games; eating family meals together was important to everyone. She still maintains the tradition of “Sunday family dinner”. We discussed the decline of manners and respect in our society. Peggy believes that a loving home should teach children to be respectful of parents, teachers, friends, and even your enemies.

Mrs. Kirk told us that there are things about this community that she will always cherish. When her eldest son, David, was killed in Vietnam, there was an outpouring of sympathy and support from neighbors. She said that she didn’t cook a meal for two weeks; so many neighbors came by offering food and kind words.

In 1956 the residents bought Armistead from the federal government. Each resident put up a monthly mortgage fee on top of the operating charges. During a 1976 general membership meeting at the Union hall on Erdman Avenue a symbolic copy of that mortgage was burned. Armistead  belonged fully to the residents.

Although some people regard our neighborhood as somewhat undesirable, Peggy is proud to be from here. She points out that many children who grew up here, went on to become lawyers, teachers, accountants, nurses, social workers, etc. She emphasized that this community can be whatever we make it. More residents need to take an interest and become Board and or community members.

It was a pleasure to talk with Peggy. We left with a greater appreciation for our community and the people who live here. Really it’s just as Peggy said, “Armistead is a unique community. Here we have the power to make the community whatever we want it to be.”

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31 Responses to Armistead Gardens – A Glimpse Back

  1. Rodney Wooldridge says:

    I grew up in armistead gardens back in the early 1970,s and i was wondering if anyone in the gardens might have a photo of the former continental can co. that sat behind the fox mansion. I use to love that building till it was torn down in 1977-78.

  2. matty boh says:

    It’s still there

    • Michael says:

      I grew up in armstead around sixties and early 70s what I remember about behind Fox mansion down bottom hill was Duncan donuts. I like to talk about it please write back

  3. Jimmy Simmons says:

    I remember David,who was a couple years older then me. I remember Bobby as well, mainly from playing baseball. Dave was a real good guy as was Bobby. When Dave was killed, it wasn’t long after that myself and many others in our community headed for nam.
    I have say though, some of the best memories i have of Armsistead is playing ball with all of the guys in our community. Good times!

    Jim Simmons

  4. John Crockett says:

    My family lived in Armistead Gardens from 1956 through 1968, My dad lived there as a child, and in the 60’s we had three generations in the Gardens. Although I only lived there from birth to age 8, I have so many fond memories and dear friends to this day from the Armistead community.

  5. Dena Horne says:

    I grew up in Armistead. I will say I had a great time there. Lived there from 1957 till I moved out in 87′. Growing up there I felt safe, roamed the streets all hours of day or night and never felt fear. Not like that these days I guess. I still drive by my home on Wright ave now and then… still smile from the heart. I sure hope the yrly reunions continue!!1

    • jim jenkins says:

      Jim Jenkins Hey are you the Dena whose sister is Bonita and brother is Roger? I remember you all!! You all lived across the street from us til you moved to the other end of Wright Ave. Wow

  6. Jimmy Pilkenton says:

    Hey Jimmy Simmons! I lived on Hewitt way and played ball on the Armistead team. Mr. Maranto would coach us when our manager wasn’t available. In fact, I remember such a game when you were catching and I was in left. I threw a one bouncer to you and you tagged the runner out at the plate. Mr. Maranto then invited me to join Mary Dobkins team. My dad wouldn’t let me. Long story. Anyway. Nice to see your still around Jimmy. Jimmy Pilkenton.

  7. Jim Simmons says:

    Hey Jimmy!
    I was just today perusing the remarks I had made and noticed yours.
    I remember that! I think ur a couple years younger than me. I remember your pretty sister and I teased her quite a bit. Mr. Maranto passed away last winter. He was a good coach and caring person. Glad to hear u are still around as well and hope ur happy. Please say hello to your sister.

    Jim Simmons

  8. June De Angelis Morris says:

    as did other neighborhood girls and boys. Kids played baseball all summer and football in fall and winter. Later a filling station, a liquor store, a fast food drive-in and a movie sales and rental place ate up the grass and the trees. It became a magnet for transients of all kinds including drug dealers. All that began sometime in the 1960’s I think. I moved from “The Gardens” in late 1957 when I got married. My Dad bought into “The Corporation” and lived there off and on into early 2000 when he passed away. He also lived on Wright Avenue for a while.

    I must have at least a books worth of nice stories about life in an age that was still innocent in “The Gardens.”

  9. June De Angelis Morris says:

    The comment above was made by me, June De Angelis Morris. Somehow the front of my comment got lost. My family moved into.”The Gardens” sometime in 1950-51. I was 12 and my sister Bertie was 8. It was the nicest place we had ever lived It was a safe place to be a kid. We lived on Alricks Way which is that way no more. There was a field across the street that was only trees and and grass in those days where kids played all summer and into the winter. Its now a strip mall.

  10. Thanks for commenting June! I have a lot of friends that lived there. I scanned those pages from an old community newsletter.

  11. Jimmy Pilkenton says:

    Back at you Jim Simmons. Been awhile since I checked out this site and saw that you replied. I will mention your regards to my sister Dale for you. Yes Jim , I think I am younger than you, 66 to be exact. Sorry to hear of Mr. Maranto’s passing. He was a good and decent man as you alluded too. I’ll definitely be stopping by again at this site to see if you and maybe some others that I know are stopping by as well. Till next time Jim.

  12. Elaine Skinner Shelley says:

    Hay I went to Armistead Elem from 1966 to- 1971. It was a great neighborhood and a great school . Your right you could walk the streets day or night and not worry.

    • Michael says:

      Hi I remember that I went to school there when it just went to six grade. I was in pre k to 3 grade. 1966 to 71 I loved living there my mom lived there in forties. I am youngest of six now 54 we all lived there. We might know each other after all it was small area. Write back please or If you like call 2512693489. I would like talk about old times I know live in lower al. On Gulf of Mexico great

  13. Stephanie Prentice says:

    My grandma grew up in Armistead all her life she now lives in that same house to this day. I actually live next door to her at that time her maiden name as a child was Maureen Conrad and she had an older sister Joan

  14. Pam Christensen says:

    my parents first rented a house on Alricks Way in 1956 because the house they were buying on Chase St ‘was not ready yet’, we moved to Chase Oct’57 and my mother and brother still live in that house……after being away from Baltimore for over 30 years and being recently widowed, I began looking for a bungalow to buy and discovered they are just too small and I cannot take the stairs of 2-story living, so unfortunately, I have to look elsewhere, but I loved the years I lived there (1956-1966, when I graduated and moved to Dundalk) and always said I wanted to come back, but it looks like that will not happen….my maiden name was Keller, in case anyone remembers

  15. Kathy patrick says:

    I was born in john Hopkins hospital. My brother David cross also played ball for MaryDobkins. Both brothers Gary and David graduated from Patterson high. We lived on newcomb way. So many incredible memories. Petes bus, armistead gardens 243. So many memories.

  16. carl abel says:

    I remember Pam Keller, you lived a couple doors down from the Ficks and a few doors up from my aunt Ruby. You wrote me a letter when I was in VietNam. I use to go with Levon Bartch. I am glad I found this site , it really brings back a lot of fond memories. I lived in the Gardens from 1955 till I went in the Army in 1964. My folks moved to Essex during the time I was away in the Army. I hope you get to see this and have some things to say. This is Carl Abel, we lived at 5112 Wright Ave. I hung around with Buzzy and the Williams boys and later on with Mouse and Leslie Lester to mention a few. And I could never forget Kathy and Sandy Gagola. Great memories.

  17. Catherine M. Allen says:

    My youngest and his girlfriend just bought a house in Armistead Gardens (although I am not supposed to know yet) I was not clear about this community. Since my sister told be about this the other day I have done some research and the community sounds so nice and neighbor friendly . Since reading the comments above, I think he made a good choice.

  18. Catherine M. Allen says:

    I meant to say “youngest nephew”

  19. Niki Gipe says:

    Our family lived in Armistead Gardent in the early 40’s until the 1951 when we moved to Hagerstown, MD. We lived at 1010 Hewitt Way and our grandparents at 1007 Hewitt. We were and are the Plakotaris family. Our neighbors the Lemon’s daughters still live in their parents home.

  20. Marc Davis says:

    The Fox Mansion was once known as the Surry House. It was the home of General Joseph Sterett (War of 1812) and Mary Harris Sterett who was my 4th great grandfather. Before he received it, it was the home of his father in law Capt. David Harris. It was then called Mount Deposit. Capt. David Harris (5th Great Grandfather) was the son of the founder of Harrisburg PA. Both him and Capt. David Harris are buried at Westminster Hall in Baltimore. The original homestead was 250 acres.

  21. Michael Andrew HANDS says:

    Is there anyone out here lived on Oliver street in sixties or early seventies please let me know

  22. joshua says:

    hey i am 10 you guys can tell me you got enething secret i can check out

  23. joshua says:

    i will come back and tell you about them

  24. joshua says:

    and also did you guys have Mrs. tumicu the won with the eyeball

  25. joshua says:

    i look throw the comment they all said it was a good place but now the felds are full of trash and beer botols and theirs fights ever singol day kids have to woch there back because you can always can be bitten-up from behind also kids wood escape from school to the point that 1 kid got shoot with a BB gun you are lucky if you find some frends who don’t wont to use you to get something it gotten so bad that kids started to scgol fights after school so the teachers wood not know.

  26. Theresa Flaherty says:

    Does anyone remember an old shell of a large house on a hill that we used to call “Fox Mansion”? The community in Armistead Gardens in the early ’50s used it many times for spaces for Girl Scout meetings, church bake sales and some school meeting areas. They just supplied their own tables and chairs.
    When I was a little girl in the 1950s and early 1960s, there were no doors or windows, but I think there were stairs, as it was two stories (I think).
    No one at the time seemed to know who it really belonged to, or I just didn’t really ask. There were no outside signs or anything to indicated the owners.

  27. Michael hands says:

    Mrs kirk my name is michael hands i grew up on in armstead and my older brother were ffriends with your boys. My brother kenny went in navy during Vietnam and my brother david was good friends with your son. They use go horse back riding bring horse by for us to see ride

  28. Anonymous says:

    Jack & Jill Hill
    Fox Mansion
    The Corner
    The Bridge

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