On a Saturday afternoon, faint sounds of passing trains faded in the distance outside the Smile Herb Shop in the College Park, Md., neighborhood of Berwyn.
The landmark, which has grown from an old house into a wellness oasis mostly through word of mouth over 40 years, sells a variety of healing concoctions, including specialty tinctures and tea blends designed for people with ailments such as anemia, arthritis and diabetes.
“The College Park area is very biodiverse,” said Alec Heron, 28.
Heron, who is one of the shop’s homeopathic specialists and lives down the street, was touting the native mushrooms and plants unique to Berwyn during its monthly walking tour, where neighbors are invited to explore local trails with botanical experts from the herb shop.
The White Lotus Wellness Center two doors down also partners with the herbal shop to offer physical treatments such as acupuncture and yoga.
Such businesses catering to the unique needs of the community are part of what draws new generations of residents to Berwyn.
Karyn Keating-Volke, 62, a real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway who has lived in Berwyn since 2012, said she was introduced to the community in 2005 when she bought a house for her daughters attending the University of Maryland.
“Most of my neighbors are longtime residents — people just don’t leave! My neighbor across the street is 78 and she has lived in Berwyn all her life. Another neighbor grew up in Berwyn and once he got married, they bought a house here. Many other neighbors have lived here for decades,” said Keating-Volke, co-recording secretary of the Berwyn District Civic Association.
Berwyn, she said, has “very little crime in this end of College Park, unlike other areas,” an added plus.
Monthly block party : The community was established around 1900. Many of the houses were purchased from the Sears catalogue and delivered by train, which was unloaded at the end of Berwyn Road.
“Most of the homes that are built of wood like mine — instead of brick — were prefabs offloaded from the train tracks down the street from here,” said Jeff Cruz, 44, who owns a Sears-catalogue home.
Cruz described how the prefabricated units were manufactured off-site in advance, usually in uniform sections, so they could be easily shipped and assembled.
As he puffed a cigarette on his front porch, Cruz added that he takes his two sons to his former elementary school, Holy Redeemer on Berwyn Road. Holy Redeemer, a Catholic school ranging from kindergarten through eighth grade, has 250 students.
“I just came back from biking to the park with my son,’’ Cruz said. He added that tennis courts, parks and bike trails leading to the nearby man-made Lake Artemesia make the community fun and accessible to explore with friends and family.
One of the popular attractions in the community is Fishnet, a restaurant on Berwyn Road known for its fresh selection of fish and seafood dishes. Fishnet “offers a community block party once a month with free food, and many neighbors come out to visit with each other,” Keating-Volke said.
Residents said they’re looking forward to the completion of a new discount grocery store along Route 1, Lidl, which is expected to open later this year. The University of Maryland is booming with new buildings and resources on and off campus that are becoming huge draws for the college town.
Living there: The Berwyn neighborhood is bounded on the east by the CSX railroad tracks; on the west by U.S. Route 1, also known as Baltimore Avenue; on the north by Maryland Highway 193 (University Boulevard); and on the south by the subdivision lines of Lakeland. Lake Artemesia is just southeast of the neighborhood by trail.
In the past six months, nine homes have sold in Berwyn, ranging from a two-bedroom, two-bathroom 1,029-square-foot condo for $200,000 to a three-bedroom, two-bathroom 1,170-square-foot house for $350,000, Keating-Volke said.
There are three homes for sale, ranging from a three-bedroom, three-bathroom property priced at $310,000 to a five-bedroom, three-bathroom property listing for $415,000.
Keating-Volke said the real estate market in Berwyn is very competitive and homes, if priced right, get snatched up fast.
“Certain investors are quick to buy and usually we get multiple offers on homes for sale,” she said.
Schools: Holy Redeemer (Catholic), Paint Branch and Berwyn Heights Elementary; Greenbelt Middle; and Parkdale High.
Transit: According to Keating-Volke, many residents work at the University of Maryland. They walk or bike to work. Others take buses to the Greenbelt or College Park Metro stations. An Uber ride to Dupont Circle will cost $6 to 12, depending on the time of day. Route 1/Baltimore Avenue is the main street.
Crime: In the past six months, there have been 11 thefts, five property crimes, one break-in and one violent robbery, according to crimereports.com .