|Title||"Mapping Out a History: Sections Three and Five of the Village of Chevy Chase"|
"Mapping Out a History: Sections Three and Five of the Village of Chevy Chase"
Exhibit produced by Evelyn Gerson for the Chevy Chase Historical Society
This exhibit uses maps to direct you through the history of two small municipalities east of Connecticut Avenue, Sections Three and Five. How can maps at the CCHS be used to decipher history? Maps are wonderful tools to track a landscape's change over time. Sometimes a surveyor's notes give clues as to where a stream once existed, when a road was built, and when a street changed names. An old Sandborn Fire Insurance Map provides invaluable information about roughly when a house was constructed, the footprint of the structure on the property, how many homes were established in an area, and what type of materials were used for building it. Klingé Atlases from the early 1900s record subdivisions and sometimes list the names of property owners. When maps are paired with other primary resources like photographs, oral histories, deed histories, and city directories, we can triangulate about life in a neighborhood and make history really come alive.
Why Do Section Three and Section Five Not Connect?
On the west side of Connecticut Avenue is the Town of Chevy Chase with meandering roads that crisscross the entire neighborhood. On the east side, however, there are no streets connecting the heart of the two municipalities. Ever wonder why Delaware, Florida, Fulton and Georgia streets in Section Three do not run through to Thornapple Street in Section 5? Independent from the Land Company, entrepreneur and land speculator John Frank Ellis purchased 14.5 acres of farmland along Brookeville Road, from J.M.C. Williams. After subdividing the land, and putting in four streets, he offered 69 lots for sale in 1894 and marketed his development as "Otterbourne." No doubt choosing this name was a nod to the Land Company since it references the land just south of the Cheviot Hills, where a campaign in the Battle of Chevy Chase between the English and Scottish took place. The Otterbourne addition became "Chevy Chase, Section Six" and later was subsumed by Section Five.
All this was done before the Land Company even platted Section Three, directly south of Ellis' venture. Therefore, when the northern portions of Delaware, Florida, Fulton and Georgia were laid out in subsequent years, they abutted property owned by Otterbourne residents and could not connect to the pre-existing Thornapple Street in the next development.
Otterbourne's Four Streets
Melrose Street......Thornapple Court
Douglas Street......Underwood Street
Percy Street......Thornapple Street
Otterbourne Addition to Chevy Chase, reprinted from Lampl and William's Chevy Chase: A Home Suburb for the Nation's Capital (1998).
Streetcar Service to Otterbourne
Dalkieth Street formed the westernmost boundary of Otterbourne, just shy of Connecticut Avenue, and to access the subdivision cars traveled from Brookeville Road. Even though his Chevy Chase addition did not front Connecticut Avenue, Frank Ellis still utilized the Land Company's streetcar. Perspective home buyers would get off at the Percy Street (now Thornapple Street) trolley stop, and walk east down a dirt path through a field to look at the four rows of house lots for sale.
Man at Percy Street and Connecticut Avenue Street Car Stop, circa 1910s, courtesy of Robert A. Truax
Connecticut Avenue at Thornapple Street, Looking North, 1920, courtesy of Robert J. Stevens
Mamie, Herbert, and Gertrude at Percy Street House (presently 3609 Thornapple), 1913, courtesy of Herbert W. Price, Jr. and John F. Deeds
From this map (1000.109.01e), Williams Lane looks like any other ordinary street. Triangulating between the map and pictures, however, a very different story emerges. The historic pictures speak to its rural past with fields for lawns and dirt roads.
The more recent photographs tell the story of a quiet tree-lined street that comes alive every Fourth of July when patriotic fun-loving neighbors parade down to the oldest house on the lane for some games and refreshments.
Williams Lane Looking East, circa 1920s, Brookville Road and Williams Lane Vantage Point, from the collection of the CCHS
Williams Lane looking West, circa 1920s, from the collection of the CCHS
21 Williams Lane, circa 1920s, from the collection of the CCHS
Fourth of July Williams Lane, 2006, VideoArt Production
Lady Godiva, 1981, donated by Mrs. Scott F. Imrie, Jr.
Through These Portals, 1992, donated by David Orem
Subdividing Section Three
In 1905, the Chevy Chase Land Company surveyed their holding between Bradley Lane and Otterbourne (now section Five), flanked by Connecticut Avenue and Brookville Road. Intersecting the subdivision are Taylor and Raymond Streets, as well as the nascent footprints of Fulton and Georgia Streets, although all of these roads had yet to be named. This plat map contained a total of 65 large lots.
Two years after this survey, most of the lots in The Village had sold, and so the Land Company decided to open up Section Three for development. With the hopes of maximizing their profits, they carved up Section Three's large parcels of land again, increasing the number of lots almost three-fold to 192, leaving one small triangular parcel of land that would eventually become Gazebo Park. Delaware, Florida, Shepherd and Spring Streets were added (by survey, not by name). Delaware and Florida were extended north of Taylor to form two dead end extensions in the northwest quadrant of the section.
The Land Company's idea to make smaller more affordable lots available for sale in Section Three really paid off. Most of the newly-created lots in 1907 had sold by 1916 and the Thomas J. Fisher Company, sales agent for the Land Company, boasted in their promotional brochure that Section Three was "practically sold out." Surveyors went through the neighborhood again to demark even more lots. In this 1916 re-subdivision, Shepherd Street was extended east from Georgia Street toward Brookville Road, and two more dead end streets, Fulton and Georgia, were established through unsold lots north of Taylor. These small modifications turned 8 long narrow strips of land into 15 more parcels available to be developed by builders. Throughout the years some of the town's larger lots were again re-subdivided and presently 277 families live in this enclave.
Subdivision of Section 3, 1905, Facsimile of Maryland State Archive Plat, courtesy of the Section Three Town Council
Re-Subdivision of Section 3, 1916, Facsimile of Maryland State Archive Plat, courtesy of the Section Three Town Council
Facsimile of Thomas J. Fisher & Co. Promotional Brochure, 1916
Looking North from Bradley Lane, with Cross Streets Rosemary and Raymond and Section Three's 6800 Block of Connecticut Avenue, 1920s, courtesy of Ara Mesrobian
Chevy Chase United Methodist Church, 1912, courtesy of Mrs. Elmer L. Hall
View down Raymond Street, 1918, courtesy of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission
Aerial View of the Southwest Corner of Section Three, Bradley and Raymond Streets, circa 1919, courtesy of Geoff Biddle
Troth Homestead, 205 Raymond Street (presently 3621), courtesy of Mrs. Elmer L Hall
More Pictures of Sections Three and Five
Do you have old photographs of people, places, and happenings in these neighborhoods? Do you have not so old photographs of a house recently renovated or razed, a festive block party, or even a town council meeting? What may seem uneventful to you might have tremendous interest to future generations of people living in Chevy Chase. Change in our community happens so quickly that it is difficult for us to keep up with documenting it. Please help the CCHS preserve our history and donate copies of your photographs.
Living at 106 Thornapple (presently 3712)
Who lived in this home and what did these people do? City directories for both the District of Columbia and Montgomery County, published during the first half of the 20th century, are important sources that give us some clues. These early versions of telephone books list the occupations of the heads of households, telephone numbers, and street addresses. Using city directories has its setbacks. For example, married women were seldom included unless widowed and it was assumed that they did not work outside the home since their occupations usually were seldom listed. A lot of information can be gleaned from this record set. According to the 1918 Boyd's city directory for DC, homeowner Eugene E. Stevens worked as a lawyer at a firm called Milo B. Stevens & Co. In the Nelson's Washington Suburban Directory of 1923, both Eugene and his son, also named Eugene, both worked as lawyers, perhaps at this same firm. The Steven's family lived here for five years and organized the Bearcats Baseball team in the garage to the right. The boys played in the ballfield in the foreground of the picture. By 1931, city directories tell us that one of the Eugene's died, because Gertrude, a widow, moved her family one street over to a house at number 37 Williams Lane (presently 3701). At the corner of Brookville Road. Living with her were Josephine, a student, Myron, a ball player, Raymond, no occupation listed, and Robert, another ball player. Most likely, these names are the children of Eugene and Gertrude.
Although Raymond was not listed as a "ball player" he certainly learned quite a bit about the sport from living with Myron and Robert, because here he is sliding home on the field adjacent to his first family's home on Thornapple St.
"Sliding Home," circa 1920, on field on the south side of Thornapple Street, courtesy of
Robert J. Stevens
Mapping out a Community
With its modest lots, narrow streets, grassy yards and Gazebo Park, Section three has always been a wonderful neighborhood for raising children.
Neighborhood Children Sitting in Front of 3700 Raymond Street, circa 1972, courtesy of
Looking into Section Three
This picture was taken from atop of the 131-foot-tall water tower located in the center of the Rosemary Street circle. It shows the western boundary of Section Three along Connecticut Avenue as well as an eastern view down Raymond Street. The houses along Connecticut Avenue are the current addresses of numbers 6707 through 6919, although not all of the structures are presently standing. At the 7000 block of Connecticut Avenue on the corner of Shepherd Street, the photo shows a dark wooden structure housing the Chevy Chase Methodist church but none of the existing homes north toward Taylor Street.
Sandborn Fire Insurance Maps
The Sandborn Map Company of New York published their atlases to help insurance adjustors. Each map contains invaluable information such as the outline of the main residence and any outlying buildings on a property, the materials used to build all structures, and street numbers assigned to properties. This copy of the atlas illustrates just how many homes existed in this portion of Section Five by 1927. Also interesting is that Thornapple Place and Dalkieth were called North Florida and North Delaware respectively by surveyors during this period. The empty lots where the boys played baseball can be seen on the southern side of Thornapple Street, next to the Stevens' home at number 106. On the north side of Williams Lane, at lot number 37 and the corner of the "Brookeville & Tennallytown Rd," is the footprint of the home that the Stevens family moved into several years later.
Facsimile of a Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, 1927, from the CCHS collection
Klingé Atlas, 1931, from the CCHS collection
Home at 37 Williams Lane (presently 3701), courtesy of Evelyn Gerson