Dare we even reveal the location of this little urban ’hood? One of the last affordable neighborhoods in the city that’s not in need of economic revitalization, Violetville is a refreshingly blue-collar Southwest ’hood full of well-kept 1950s- and ’60s-era rowhouses and older farmhouses that date back to the turn of the previous century. Walking the streets of the area, you can almost see the evolution of what was once a quiet, country burgh with just 18 families living in it into a first-ring suburb of a growing city, which was eventually annexed by Baltimore in 1919: Older formal homes on smallish plots of land and a sleepy graveyard on a hill give way to modest aluminum-sided ranchers, which in turn give way to brick rowhouses, then modern vinyl-sided townhomes. It seems as if, were it not for the physical confines of the area (it’s bounded by St. Agnes Hospital on one side and industrial parks and highways on the other), Violetville would bleed right into a Baltimore County wasteland of overpriced homes and faceless suburbs. But it doesn’t. Instead, it retains a distinct old-Baltimore feeling, full of above-ground pools and cement parking slabs built into backyards, barking dogs and kids playing ball in the street.
Compared to a lot of other urban neighborhoods, like Charles Village or Fells Point or Hampden, Violetville appears to be lacking in amenities. And it’s true, there is but one neighborhood bar/restaurant (Kibby’s on Wilkens Avenue), one convenience store (Wilkens Food Market), and a couple of gas stations within its bounds. But here’s part of the beauty of living in this ‘hood: Hop on 95 north on Caton Avenue and you can be downtown in 10 minutes—less if you don’t hit traffic.