History of Cheverly: Part 1

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For the 25th anniversary of Cheverly’s town incorporation in 1931, Fred W. Gast wrote “a series of articles on the history of Cheverly, from Colonial times to the present, will be published in the form of one-page supplements to the monthly Town News Letter, beginning in February 1955•”  I thought it would be fun to explore these articles with my readers, neighbors, friends. Hope you enjoy the “History of Cheverly, Part 1.”

History of Cheverly, Part 1 by Fred W. Gast:

A community of real charm! Not another town which just happened, not one which sprang up around a crossroads store, of which there are so many. A town with a purpose back of it, I would say: not built haphazardly, but after careful planning. Attractive dwellings too, blending in general architectural lines with the landscape and carrying an air of individuality; streets not laid out in checkerboard fashion but following in graceful curves the contour on the land; and finally a community with a homelike spirits a friendly neighborliness a distinctive civic atmosphere, the kind which every visitor and newcomer Liscerns and wants to know more about, and which every resident learns to appreciate more the longer he lives in the town. This is our “Cheverly” of which I shall attempt to portray the origin, development and progress. Along about the summer of the year 1917, Hobert Marshall, a builder and Promoter of planned residential communities, backed financially by a wealthy machine-tool manufacturer of Cincinnati, Ohio, came to Washington for the purpose of establishing in the vicinity of the Nation’s Capital a restricted residential community for families of modest means, in which the home owner might annoy peace and quiet, away from the noise and din of commercial activity after the day’s toil in office or workshop. No doubt, the need for more and better residential facilities than Washington afforded in its long rows of small attached houses prevalent at that time, had attracted investors by reason of the serious housing shortage which then existed by reason of the World War then in progress. Prince George’s County, at that time mostly rural, and with a total’ population of less than 40,000, offered great possibilities for residential expansion. Real estate subdivision development in the county had been mostly on a snail scale without control. The only requirement was the filing in the county records office of a subdivision plat showing the lots and dedicated streets. There were no standards for the construction of subdivision streets. The Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Co mission, the State agency which exercises zoning and planning control, was not created until 1927. In the early part of the century, the areas generally selected for subdivision development were adjacent to railroad stations from which transportation to work was provided or along the few arterial highways from Washington into the county. The only existing settlements in this area of the County were Tuxedo, next to the Magruder Station and the one named Cheverly Gardens next to the Landover Station on the Pennsylvania Railroad, as well as Seat Pleasant along the Washington-Baltimore Electric Line. The lots in these subdivisions were either very small, 25 by 100 feet, or in the case of the Cheverly Gardens 100 by 200 feet in area, suitable for gardening. Mr. Marshall, in his quest for a suitable development site, after a survey in several directions out of Washington, finally decided that the area to the east of the Anacostia, within sight of the dome of the Capitol, between the old Bladensburg-Marlboro Road on the north, the Pennsylvania Railroad on the east and the Tuxedo-Columbia Post mood on the south would be an ideal location. The only modern improvement in the location was the commuter service which was provided by the railroad. Otherwise the terrain was unspoiled in its natural beauty of woodland and meadow.

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