Patterson Park House Tour offers a slice of city life, past and present

Written by on September 26, 2012 in Featured, Neighborhood News - 1 Comment

For this weekend’s Patterson “Park Fall home Tour, Ginny Dobry is opening the doors of the home she has lived in since 1956.

Ginny Dobry knew that 2012 was the year.

She had been asked to be part of the Patterson Park Fall Home Tour before, but always declined.

“I usually don’t like to draw attention to myself,” says Dobry.

But this year was different. 2012 marks her 56th year in her N. Kenwood Ave. home, which she bought with her late husband, Dan, in 1956.

“I took that as sort of a sign,” says Dobry. “We raised six kids in this rowhouse, and we loved living in the city. I wanted to share our experience with my neighbors, so I said, sure, put me on the tour.”

Dobry recalls that in Baltimore in 1956, larger families were more the rule than the exception.

“One family on our block had seven children,” she says. “Many others had four or five. It was a blue-collar, working-class neighborhood.”

Dobry, who is active in the Patterson Park Neighborhood Association, says she loved—and still loves— living in the city for many of same reasons people love living in Baltimore today: convenience and proximity to public spaces.

“I walked all of my children to elementary school, and of course, there was the park. Patterson Park was, and is, a great backyard. My sons were serious soccer players.They lived in that park,” Dobry says.

When Dobry’s children were high-school age, her daughter attended the Institute of Notre Dame Catholic girls’ school, and her five sons attended Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. “They got good educations in the city,” she recalls.

Of course there were some inconveniences raising a large family in a 12.5 -foot -wide house.

“For one thing, we had one bathroom. Well, one bathroom plus a flush [toilet] in the basement. Everyone got a quick shower in the morning, and the last one had to wipe it down afterwards,” she recalls laughing.

Despite the challenges of living in small spaces, Dobry believes that families can have a superior quality of life in the city if they are organized.

“A bigger house is not necessarily a better one,” Dobry says. “So many people move out of the city when their kids are young. You can stay and raise your kids in the city and be happy. We are an example of that.”

In fact, three of Dobry’s six children will be on hand for the house tour to talk about what life was like growing up on Kenwood Ave. 40 + years ago.

“They’re thrilled to be here,” she says.

Grant Corley, a Patterson Park Fall Home Tour organizer, says theirs is not your stereotypical house tour.

“It is not focused on historical homes or home-buying. It’s about getting to know your neighbors,” he says.“We’ll be sharing how we live and helping people get a feel for the zeitgeist of the neighborhood.”

For more details on the house tour, see Community Calendar.

by Danielle Sweeney

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