Strutt brothers remember how Strutt and Poole helped to transform Timonium in the 1960s
BY MATT DaSILVA
When George “Rick” Strutt Jr. walks the streets of Valleywood, he sees signs of his family’s legacy.
Strutt, 60, is the son of the late George Strutt Sr., of Strutt and Poole, the developers of Valleywood who in the early 1960s built a community that has since sustained multiple generations of Baltimore County families.
Strutt lives on Valleywood Court, but on any given day, he’ll amble a few blocks east on streets that bear his name (Rickswood Road) and that of his sister (Jody Way). If he walks the other way on Timonium Road toward the townhomes of Valleywood at Five Farms built by his brother, Kim, president of The Strutt Group, he might end up in a cul de sac named after both of them (Kimrick Place).
More than any street sign, however, what reminds Strutt most of his father are the people taking sanctuary underneath towering trees and emerging from their ranch and split-level homes for neighborly conversations.
“As I stroll through the neighborhood, see the people with their dogs and the children playing at the school, I recognize a living, vibrant community,” George Strutt Jr. said. “My father would be extremely pleased.”
The Strutt brothers have an almost encyclopedic knowledge of this area’s history. Strutt and Poole purchased land from the Zink family in parcels and carved Valleywood out of a sprawling horse farm surrounded by woods. The Pine Valley Construction Company, owned by famous Baltimore benefactor Joseph Meyerhoff, established Pine Valley in 1958. Construction of the Valleywood homes began in 1961. The two community associations merged in 1966 to form the Pine Valley-Valleywood Community Association.
Mays Chapel was being developed at around the same time. The builders defeated a county proposal that would have made Forest Ridge and Pine Valley driveways linking the developments.
“That has helped maintain some of the character of the community,” George Strutt Jr. said. “It’s not a thoroughfare.”
George Strutt Sr. wrote the original covenants of Valleywood. He insisted the trees stay, hiring a local farmhand to prepare the properties without disrupting its arboreal appeal. Strutt and Poole advertised locally with proclamations like, “Nature was your architect here!” and “Green gold!” The massive oaks, elms, hickories and spruces remain a distinguishing characteristic of the community today.
George Strutt Sr. handled sales and marketing. Preston Poole, after whom Presway Road is named, was the architect. Poole had two daughters, Sandee (of Sandee Road) and Gail (of Gailridge Road), and a son, Pete.
Strutt and Poole did not operate with the same scope as the Meyerhoff or Keelty families, the latter of whom developed much of Mays Chapel. Comparatively, they were a small shop. That’s what made Valleywood special.
“What a unique opportunity for Strutt and Poole, Mr. Zink allowing them to buy five and 10 acres at a time,” Kim Strutt said. “That’s the only way they could afford it.”
George Strutt Sr. grew up poor in Baltimore, working in a glass mold factory before World War II. He volunteered for the Army and became a supply officer stationed in Labrador (Newfoundland, Canada). When they couldn’t move material from Labrador fast enough, they buried it with a bulldozer.
“He was so blown away by the waste involved in that war that he then said he would never work for anybody else again,” George Strutt Jr. said.
Strutt and Poole went into business together in 1948. The postwar suburban housing boom paved the way for Valleywood. The houses got bigger as they ventured farther back from Timonium Road into the former Mayfield farmlands. Quarter-acre plots turned into half-acre properties. Carports turned into one- and two-car garages.
“I got to work for the last 28 years of my life with my father and mom. I know what Valleywood meant to him as far as his building career goes,” Kim Strutt said. “It was something that he really took pride in because it was their first big opportunity.”
George Strutt Sr. died in 2000. He was 86.