What happens when a house on Baltimore’s “Miracle” 34th Street goes for sale?

Published on: December 02, 2022 6:00 AM EST

A house is for sale on Baltimore's famous 34th Street, home to the Christmas lights tradition where the entire block is lit up. Longtime resident Patsy Dailey passed away and a memorial sits on her porch of the home which is now for sale.
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A four-bedroom, one-bathroom house on West 34th Street in Hampden is for sale, listed at $235,000 — a steal compared to a house nearby that sold for more than $400,000 in May.

The house, 710 W. 34th St., was built in 1880 and hasn’t had any major renovations, but it’s in good condition.

Grace Davis, the realtor for the sale, says she loves the location, and that a parking pad could easily be added to the backyard.

“So there’s certainly a lot of potential for someone to buy this house, and do some work on it,” Davis said, noting the house nearby that sold for nearly double.

The catch? Prospective buyers might need to fit the qualification: “Must love Christmas.” “The Miracle on 34th Street” is a Baltimore tradition going back as long as anyone can remember, and one that draws thousands of visitors from around the state to admire holiday decorations.

Every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, neighbors on the 700 block of Hampden’s 34th Street dress up their homes with extravagant holiday decorations and open their street up to visitors, turning the lights on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. “The Miracle on 34th Street” is a Baltimore tradition going back as long as anyone can remember, and one that draws thousands of visitors from around the state to admire holiday decorations.

This year, that includes string lights hanging between houses over the street, a yard with a flock of flamingos, a Nativity scene made up of stylized doors, a hubcap Christmas tree and thousands of twinkling, dazzling lights.

Jim Pollock, an artist who has lived next to the house for sale for 33 years, said the decorating has ebbed and flowed over the years, but that it’s definitely grown over time.

“This block gives a gift to the city we love every year. That gift is peace,” Pollock said. “You can just enjoy it. It doesn’t cost a dime.”

Anyone interested in the house might be asking: Will I have to participate in the extravagant holiday decorating that happens each year?

Pollock says two of the most common questions he gets is whether residents on the street are forced to put the lights up, and whether they get any help with their utility bills.

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The answer to both is no.

There’s no formal agreement when somebody moves onto the block that they have to decorate in the winter. It’s just something that people come together to do.

There’s also no assistance from the city or from BGE for the utility bills, Pollock said, despite persistent rumors. But, he said, the electric bill hasn’t been so bad in recent years “because we’re smart enough to use LED lights now.”

When older residents and folks who have lived on the block for a long time move out, Pollock said, the residents who take their place are often eager to participate.

A new buyer won’t be required to participate in the annual tradition. But they might feel compelled to, both for the sake of spreading holiday cheer and for the memory of the former homeowner.

Remembering Patsy

For 88 years, Patsy Marie Dailey called 710 W. 34th St. her home. She never married, never had children. But she loved Christmas, and always decorated.

“She was a part of that every year,” said Dailey’s younger sister, Shirley Bradley. “She loved that house, she would not leave.”

Dailey died at the end of September and the family put the house up for sale. Dailey’s nephew, Billy Hopwood, made sure to decorate the home one last time.

It’s decorated as it always has been — with teddy bears. Up on the pale blue porch, there are teddy bears in sweaters, teddy bears on sleds and, on the wall, a teddy bear made of string lights.

Dailey loved the teddy bears, Hopwood said. Already, members of the family have taken some of the bears with them so they can have their own memorial of Aunt Patsy.

“I wanted to put them all out there one more time for Aunt Patsy,” Hopwood said.

There are two big differences among the decorations at the house this year. First is a small memorial table set up on the porch, with a portrait of Patsy and an angel looking over her. The second is the “For Sale” sign in the yard, with artificial garland snaking up the post.

There’s no information in the Maryland Real Property database on when the home, which was built in 1880, was last sold. Before Dailey owned the house, it belonged to one of Bradley’s aunts. Bradley said she isn’t sure if anyone owned the house before her aunt.

For decades, from her perch on the front porch of her home, Dailey learned all the goings-on in the neighborhood and could make a fast friend out of anyone passing by.

“If somebody started talking to her, boy, they were in trouble,” said Hopwood, her nephew, because she could keep a conversation going for such a long time.

When Dailey died at the end of September, the home passed to her younger sister. Hopwood had been living with his aunt for about two and a half years to help her around the house.

She’d always eat three meals a day, though she wasn’t much of a cook, he said. She would always put on her pajamas at 10 p.m. and go to bed at 11:30 p.m. after watching the news.

He said he didn’t have one standout memory of the time he spent with her, just the day-to-day routine that he came to appreciate.

“I use to hate going to the grocery store with her,” he said. She needed to hold onto the cart to support herself, and “the more we put in it, the slower we got.”

“But now I miss the time with her. Don’t get to do it no more.”

Pollock, the neighbor who lived next to Dailey for 33 years, also has fond memories with her. He remembers her little dog, Raven, who would get so excited he’d start to dance around anyone visited.

He also remembers Dailey helping him through the isolation during the early days of the pandemic, he said. While things were shutting down, they were still able to talk.

“It was a real thing of beauty for us to just sit outside on the porch,” he said.

And Bradley, though she did not live with her sister, had good things to say about the block, too.

“It is very special. And every one of her neighbors were good to her. They’d sit and talk to her,” Bradley said. “She loved it. She was determined not to leave it.”