- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 20, 2008

TOWSON, Md. | Henry Peck Jr. checks on his Towson garden several times a day. His raspberries are starting to ripen and the tomatoes and peppers are coming along.

“That’s my kind of escape valve,” Mr. Peck said.

His gardening might be considered typical except for his location: outside the law office of Haile & Peck across the street from Baltimore County Circuit Court and Towson’s business district.

“I feel like I’m at home,” Mr. Peck said of the converted house built in 1913.

Dozens of lawyers get the same feeling when they enter their offices in west Towson, along Pennsylvania and Allegheny avenues. All of the lawyers interviewed echoed the sentiments of Julie Janofsky, of Brocato, Price & Janofsky LLC, whose building on Allegheny dates from 1923.

“Moving here has vastly improved the quality of life for everyone in our office,” she said.

It can also be comforting for clients, added Bill Marlow, whose firm, Marlow & Wyatt, has occupied a tan stucco house on Allegheny for 24 years.

“It takes their mind off why they are here sometimes,” he said.

The low ceilings and doorways and narrow stairwells of Marlow & Wyatt befit a home built in 1930. The office waiting room feels like a living room when the grandfather clock chimes. Mr. Marlow keeps a kennel in his second-story office for when he is socializing the birddog puppies he trains. Whereas a home hallway may be lined with family pictures, one of Mr. Marlow’s is lined with pictures of horses, reflecting his work with the racing industry.

“No one’s ever said they don’t like it,” he said.

Haile & Peck, with its red shutters and U.S. flags flying by the front door, has a similar, personal aesthetic. Mr. Peck and David Haile grew up in Towson and went to Towson High School together, and Mr. Peck has collected Towson memorabilia.

Above the mantle in the library, for example, sits a teacup and saucer given away by the old Finkelstein’s department store on York Road and a brick used in the early 20th century as part of the Towson & Cockeysville Electric Railway. The library is lined with Maryland Reports dating back to the 1870s, passed down from Mr. Haile’s grandfather and father.

“It’s kind of a step back in time,” Mr. Peck said.

Lawyers and county officials said a combination of natural progression, zoning changes and citizen involvement created the neighborhood of professionals west of the courthouse.

The lawyers also like the amount of parking in the neighborhood, a scarce commodity in central Towson, the proximity to the courthouse and that they have become their own landlords.

“You can’t go wrong investing in your own property instead of renting,” said Paul Redmond, of Hellman & Redmond, which has been on Allegheny since 1986.

The firm purchased the property in 1986. It resembles a small cottage from the front, with white stone interrupted by splashes of brick around the arched front doorway. “I don’t know how they got the combo of stucco and stone, but I like it,” Mr. Redmond said.

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