A lot has changed in the nearly 20 years since Ward and Betsy Stephenson purchased their house in the Quarterfield neighborhood of Ellicott City, Md.

Their two children, preschoolers when they moved to the community in 1998, are college graduates. And Ward Stephenson’s knees are not as forgiving, so the basketball court he had installed years ago is now just a decoration.

As the lives of the Stephenson family evolved, the neighborhood, they said, remained constant.

“This community was really appealing for our whole family,” said Ward Stephenson, a sales representative for Medtronic, a maker of medical devices. “We were really drawn by the idea of having our kids grow up in a community that offered the best of both rural and suburban environments.”

The location of Quarterfield — roughly an equal distance from Baltimore and the D.C. suburbs — has also been a major selling point for families.

“We’re kind of in a little cocoon,” Betsy Stephenson said. “We’re close enough to commute to surrounding cities but far enough out to enjoy the rural surroundings.”



Manageable lots: Steven K. Breeden, a principal with Security Development Corp., said his firm broke ground on Quarterfield — a planned community of about 50 lots — in 1996 and immediately began to market the location as a happy medium between Howard County’s rural farmland and its burgeoning supply of cookie-cutter suburban houses.

During that time, Breeden said, many developers favored larger three-acre lots that forced “everyone to spend the weekend on their tractors mowing.” Quarterfield, however, offered more manageable single-acre lots that provided ample space without becoming too burdensome, Breeden said.

Abutting more than 100 acres of preserved farmland, Quarterfield was once a part of Doughoregan Manor, the 18th-century home of Charles Carroll, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, Breeden said. Today, the community is stocked with Georgian Colonials and classic Williamsburg two-stories, along tree-lined streets and cul-de-sacs.


Sorry to go:
While families have found comfort and consistency in Quarterfield over the past 17 years, some original residents, having raised their families and now facing retirement age, are a part of the natural circle of life of a neighborhood, said Tracy Diamond, an agent with Re/Max Advantage Realty.

“Many of Quarterfield’s original residents purchased their homes to raise their families,” Diamond said. “As they’ve matured, they’re faced with a need to downsize but are really reluctant because of their love for the community.”

One such homeowner is longtime resident Doug Albright, who said he’s certainly not itching to leave the community he’s called home for more than a dozen years.

As he sat relaxing recently on his patio, the father of two adult daughters said his decision to list his house for sale is bittersweet. His corner lot, which abuts acres of cornfields, offers a view of a classic red barn — “the perfect location,” said Albright, who teaches government and economics at Catonsville High School in Baltimore County.

But the house, with more than 5,000 square feet including a finished basement, is too big for Albright, whose wife died three years ago after a battle with cancer.

“I guess a lot of people my age are looking for simplicity and walkability,” said Albright, who plans to move to Annapolis.

But while he’s looking forward to less yardwork and the ability to walk to a restaurant or bar, Albright said he’s going to miss the tranquility of Quarterfield.

“I got to sit and watch the corn grow in my back yard every year, and I really enjoyed that view. I’ve felt like I’ve been on vacation the last 17 years,” he said.


The Quaterfield neighborhood in Ellicott City, Md., is a planned community of about 50 lots. (Evy Mages/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)


Living there:
The neighborhood is tucked east of the intersection of Folly Quarter Road and Carroll Mill Road.

Four houses sold there in the past 12 months, ranging from a five-bedroom, three-bathroom Colonial for $850,000 to a five-bedroom, four-bathroom rancher for $962,500, Diamond said. One home is under contract, priced at $929,000, and is on the market, priced at $1.15 million.

Diamond said that during the housing boom of the past 20 years many buyers were so eager to purchase a home in Howard County’s highly rated public school district that they were willing to compromise on the quality of their home.

“But in Quarterfield, you really don’t have to sacrifice at all,” she said. “You have unique properties that are built with fine attention to detail.”


Schools:
Manor Woods Elementary, Mount View Middle and Marriotts Ridge High.


Transit:
Quarterfield is served by a network of public buses operated the Regional Transportation Agency of Central Maryland.

Lester Davis is a freelance writer.