Where We Live | Downtown Frederick, Md.

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Pedestrians walk along Market Street in downtown Frederick. The town was founded by German settlers in 1745. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

Downtown Frederick is often described as both historic and hip. The town played an important role during the Civil War, with Union and Confederate troops marching through the city and many churches, public buildings and residences serving as makeshift hospitals.

But it’s also home to trendy specialty shops such as Velvet Lounge (a chic clothing boutique), Curious Iguana (an independent bookstore), Retro-Metro (novelties, eclectic home decor and vintage toys), and Pop Shop (more than 500 types of glass-bottle craft, retro and vintage sodas); taverns like Bushwaller’s and Brewer’s Alley, restaurants such as Firestone’s Tavern, Volt, and the Wine Kitchen; specialty health-food stores Good Juju and Sanctuary: Modern Kitchen, a gluten-free restaurant; plus craft breweries and two distilleries, McClintock Distilling (whiskey from organic grains) and Tenth Ward Distilling Company.

Downtown Frederick is roughly defined as Bentz Street to East Street and South Street to Ninth Street.

“It is an authentic place,” says Joe Adkins, deputy director for planning for Frederick. “The downtown is real, and it goes back to the 1700s, 1800s. You cannot replicate that.”

Jennifer Martin, executive director of Celebrate Frederick, says, “There’s real vibrancy to downtown, it’s unique with so many independently run or family-owned specialty shops you won’t find anywhere else, plus pop-up art shows, and events. People who live downtown seem to embrace that excitement and energy.”

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What began as a flood control project is now a vibrant urban green space. Carroll Creek’s Linear Park is a 1.3-mile waterway in the middle of downtown with fountains, brick walkways, public art, pedestrian bridges, restaurants and a 350-seat-amphitheater for events such as the popular Alive @ 5 concerts produced by Downtown Frederick Partnership.

“It’s an artsy, ‘kind of hipster’ place with a cool vibe,” said Stacie Lynch, 24, a Frederick County resident. “I go down there quite a bit. Visit the rooftop bar at Brewer’s Alley . . . for the food and people watching!”

Founded by German settlers in 1745, Frederick is nestled among Civil War battlegrounds at Monocacy, Antietam and Gettysburg. The National Museum of Civil War Medicine on East Patrick Street pays homage to the town’s care for wounded soldiers during the war.

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The Historic Preservation Commission safeguards the historical and cultural heritage of downtown, which is composed of predominantly original 19th-century buildings. The historic area is bounded by Seventh Street to the north, Bentz Street to the west, East Street to the east, and South Street and Shab Row to the south.

Long and Foster real estate agent Ed Stanfield has been selling homes in the area since 1969.

“There’s a spectrum of types of residences with a lot of charm within a broad range of pricing,” Stanfield said. “A lot of folks have lived downtown for quite a while, retirees and people late in their careers, and there’s been an influx of younger folks, millennials that work in technical fields and like the convenience of walking downtown to where the nighttime action is and being able to walk or bike to work.”

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The more expensive housing is near the center of downtown, while the less expensive housing is closer to the city’s boundaries. Prices downtown run from the mid-$200,000s for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom condominium to $1.5 million for a six-bedroom, five-bathroom restored townhouse in the heart of the historic district.

Less expensive housing such as smaller homes built in 1950s to 1960s, historic townhouses and bungalows cost about $200,000 to $350,000.

Rents run from $1,500 to $3,000 per month.

Frederick native Jack Rentschler, 27, rents a three-bedroom apartment downtown with his wife, Ashley, and their two cats. Rentschler is a financial analyst who commutes to Fort Detrick. He also is a guitarist and vocalist in a Frederick-based alt-rock band, Wvnder. The Rentschlers love the walkability of downtown, the historic buildings, the pop-up events, live music and the nearby 10th Ward Distillery.

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Resident Joe Williams retired from the government in 2018.

“I’m rarely bored,” he said.

Williams and wife Kayte own a three-bedroom townhouse downtown. They enjoy walking, fine dining on Carroll Creek, and the vibrant arts community. Before retiring, Williams walked less than a mile to the transit center, rode a MARC train to Rockville, and then switched to the Metro for one stop.

“Commuting wasn’t always great, but hey, you could go all the way to D.C. from Frederick and never get into a car,” he said.

Schools: Spring Ridge, North Frederick, Parkway and Lincoln elementary; Gov. Thomas Johnson, Crestwood and West Frederick middle; and Frederick, Gov. Thomas Johnson and Tuscarora high.

Transportation: Major thoroughfares include Interstate 270 to Washington, I-70 to Baltimore, U.S. Route 340 to Harpers Ferry, W.Va., and Route 15 to Leesburg. The transit center for Greyhound buses, MARC commuter trains, local TransIT buses and shuttles is on S. East Street.

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