Greater Landover, Maryland (Kentland 33’s 1st due) Sources: Wikipedia.com, Pgcrimeinfo.org, Citydata.com, realestate.com, infoplease.com, mdihp.net-Maryland Inventory of Historic Places, burgersub.org-Murder in the Mid-Atlantic, Triumph and Traditon: Firefighting in Prince Georges County, Maryland 1887-1990 by Ed Bosanko.
In the early 1700's The 3rd Baron Baltimore granted William Wilson roughly 10,000 acres of what was once known as poplar springs. Wilson renamed the area “Baltimore Manor” described as between the Eastern Branch (Anacostia river) and the Patuxent River. At that time the land was dense forest occupied by the Conoy people of the Algonquian Tribe. One road ran through the area from Georgetown to Annapolis near what is present day Sheriff Road. The Wilson’s established a tobacco farm on the property and prospered from the 1770’s all the way until the Civil war. The Land between Baltimore Manor and the Garrisons Landing (Port of Bladensburg) remained without owner or deed for many years. The land left over was renamed Landover, which is where the present day name comes from.
On August 5, 1741 782 acres of the “Land left Over” was granted to James Beall by Maryland’s Governor for his service in the British Navy, the land was called Beall’s Pleasure. James Beall died before getting a chance to develop the land and his son Ninian sold it to Benjamin Stoddard who was the first secretary of the US Navy. Stoddard built a house in 1795 along the Bladensburg-Marlboro Turnpike (Landover Road). Today the plantation house still stands off of 75th Ave on Beale’s Court.
In 1807 about 300 acres on the Easternmost part of our first due called “Park Hall” was sold to Joseph Kent. The area was renamed Rosemount by Kent who served in the house of representatives from 1811-1815 and 1819-1826. Kent was then elected Governor of Maryland from 1826-1829, not wanting to leave politics, he served as senator from 1833 until his death in 1837. Joseph Kent was very popular in the area and is the reason neighborhoods in the first due are called Kentland, Kent Towne, Kent Forest, Kent Park and Kent Village. The site of the Rosemount Estate is just outside the beltway off Saint Josephs Drive where Joseph Kent is still buried today.
After the civil war most of the farms were divided and sold, roads were cut through the area and houses began popping up.
The earliest community was called Brightseat P.O. near present day Landover and Brightseat Roads. The community started in 1860 and had about 50 residents by 1871. Jefferson was another small community started along Ardmore and Ardwick Road in the 1870’s, however these communities never flourished. Today all evidence of their existence is gone, covered up by the Beltway and a shopping center. By 1894 there were about 200 homes in the present day first due.
In 1872 the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) was opened on the western edge of the first due. The PRR made a stop at “Wilson Station” at the intersection of Bladensburg Marlboro Road. The stop connected Landover with the rest of the world, allowing for faster shipping of goods to markets in Washington. By 1905 The Washington Baltimore and Annapolis Electric Railroad (WB&A) opened along present day Route 704.
In 1910 developer William Smith bought 154 acres surrounding the WB&A. He platted Glenarden Heights (1st-11th streets) in 1911, Glenarden (between Brightseat and MLK) in 1913 and Ardwick Park (everything west of MLK) in 1921. The Glenarden street car stop was established at the intersection of Glenarden Parkway surrounded by lush gardens and a semi circular road. The community was marketed for African Americans, many of whom worked for the PRR or the WB&A. In pursuit of better public services, Glenarden incorporated in 1939. Glenarden’s first Mayor W.H. Swann arranged for utility services, police and fire departments with a Town Charter.
The first form of fire protection in the area was the newly formed Glenarden Fire Department in 1939. Eight men from the town; Robert Hawkins, Frank Kenner, James R. Cousins, Leroy Hilman, Ager Jackson, Frank Smith, Clarance Johnson and William Swain Chartered Maryland’s First African American Fire Department. The Fire Station was located at the intersection of Glenarden Parkway and Brightseat Road where the current County Library is. On the land was a small Town owned barn for which the department housed it’s only piece of apparatus: a 1923 Ford Model T chemical hose wagon. The department was met by members of the County Fireman’s Association, but never met the requirements for membership.
After World War 2 the Silver Hill Federal Center disbanded its fire department and relied on the civilian Silver Hill VFD #29 for protection. The 1941 Ford being used at the Federal Center was bought by the Glenarden Fire Department in 1946 with hopes the department could meet the Class 1 pumper requirements for the association. The 1941 Ford is commonly mistaken as Kentland’s first piece of apparatus. Unfortunately the Glenarden Fire Department was plagued by bad funding, lack of interest and dissolved in early 1948. After WWII a major suburban sprawl came through this part of the country and most of Landover was developed into the neighborhoods we see today.
The “Circumferential Highway” better known today as the Beltway was completed in 1964, splitting our first due in half. Sixth Street in Glenarden was demolished to make way for the highway under an imminent domain law. The road would become not just ten lanes of pavement moving commuters, but a way people defined who they were. Typically Communities “outside” the beltway were more affluent with nicer homes selling today for as much as 1 or 2 million dollars. On the other hand the “inner” beltway communities became the definition of urban decay. Many residents fled the inner beltway high crime rates and bad schools to raise their family in the suburban areas. The fastest growing area during this time was the present area served by Engine 46.
The Landover Mall was opened in December of 1972 and was a major attraction during its first couple years. The mall hosted three local department stores Hecht’s, Garfinckel’s and a Woodward & Lothrop. Along with the national chain Sears store and a six screen movie theater. The mall thrived for many years, but became victim to the surrounding areas criminal activity, patrons didn’t feel safe going to the mall and the stores in the mall were losing more products to theft then sales. This eventually led to the demise of the mall when it closed its doors in 2002 and was demolished in 2007. The Sears was the only business to remain open but plans on moving to the Ritchie Business Park in early 2012.
Also opening in 1972 was the Capital Centre or known better as the US Airways Arena which was home to the Washington Bullets basketball and Washington Capitals Hockey teams. Thousands of concerts were played in the arena until its closing in 1997. The Capital Centre was imploded on December 15, 2002 to make way for the Boulevard at the Capital Center, a town-center style shopping mall that opened in 2003.
Towards the end of the 60’s apartment buildings were constructed all over Kentland to keep up with the growing population. The 80’s brought a major drug epidemic that killed hundreds a year, this would ultimately lead to the demise of the nice bedroom community of Kentland. The end of the 80’s brought war scenes on Kentland streets as gang violence became a familiar sight in the area