Thursday, May 28, 2015

#TBT Samuel Ogle Junior High School Under Construction, 1966

Apparently the original name planned for Samuel Ogle Junior High School was Chapel Forge Junior High School, but the name was changed by the time the school opened. The school is now called Samuel Ogle Middle School.

These photographs were taken by Mary Lynch Giddo in 1966, the year after she and her family moved into their new house at 4025 Chelmont Lane.. The house backed up to the school property, so they had a close-up view of the construction. These photos were graciously provided to Bowie Living by Mary’s daughters.

Samuel Ogle Junior High School construction photo.
The school was going to be called Chapel Forge Junior High School.
Credit: Mary Lynch Giddo, 1966

Samuel Ogle Junior High School construction photo.
Credit: Mary Lynch Giddo, 1966

Samuel Ogle Junior High School construction photo.
This is a view from the backyard at 4025 Chelmont Lane looking across the field toward Crosswick Turn.
Credit: Mary Lynch Giddo, 1966

Samuel Ogle Junior High School construction photo.
Credit: Mary Lynch Giddo, 1966

Samuel Ogle Junior High School construction photo.
Credit: Mary Lynch Giddo, 1966

Samuel Ogle Junior High School construction photo.
Credit: Mary Lynch Giddo, 1966

Samuel Ogle Junior High School construction photo.
Credit: Mary Lynch Giddo, 1966

Samuel Ogle Junior High School construction photo.
This is a view from the backyard at 4025 Chelmont Lane looking across the field toward Crosswick Turn.
Credit: Mary Lynch Giddo, 1966

Samuel Ogle Junior High School construction photo.
Credit: Mary Lynch Giddo, 1966

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The last day of races at the Bowie Race Course, July 13, 1985

A track employee makes his rounds for the last time
after Bowie writes the final chapter in its history.
July 13, 1985: According to the Baltimore Sun, more than 12,000 fans gathered at the Bowie Race Course for the final day of horse racing - seventy-one years after the track first opened.  The last race ended, and General Manager Al Karwacki passed out trophies in the winners' circle.  Some of the race track employees were recognized, and "Thanks for the Memories" played over the public address system.  A Guy Lombardo version of "Auld Lang Syne" played next, and the infield board began flashing the message, "Bowie:  1914-1985,  Thanks.".  The emotion was too much for Karwacki and his wife Lorraine, and they both began to cry.  Racing at the Bowie Race Course was no more.

Baltimore Sun photographer Gene Sweeney, Jr. snapped this picture of a race track employee in the grandstands after all the fans had left.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Cakery Reopens Under New Ownership

Freddy Trujillo, new owner of The Cakery in Bowie
Pastries are for sale once again in Bowie's Hilltop Plaza.  After being closed for two months, The Cakery is back in business.  According to the new owner, Freddy Trujillo, customers can expect to see the same treats that have been available at the store since the 1990s - cookies, cupcakes, danishes, croissants, tarts, pies, cakes and more.  Many items are available for immediate purchase, including pies and cakes, but Trujillo recommends ordering pies and cakes two or more days in advance.

The Cakery is open from 8am to 5pm, Tuesday through Friday, and 8am to 3pm on Saturdays.  Trujillio may expand the hours in the future.

The Cakery is located on the back side of Hilltop Plaza, 6776 Race Track Rd, Bowie, MD 20715.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Washington Outer Beltway Alters Belair at Bowie Plans

Many people from Bowie are aware that the Somerset neighborhood, informally known as the "S" section, was the first neighborhood to be built by Levitt & Sons on the former Woodward estate known as Belair.  What's not as commonly known is that Somerset was not intended to be the first neighborhood.

According to an article written by Don Wescott in 1974, an executive who worked for Levitt & Sons for years, Levitt planned on building the Glenridge neighborhood first.  In the Belair at Bowie lexicon, Glenridge is not a very familiar name.  It's certainly not as familiar as Somerset, Buckingham, Kenilworth or Tulip Grove.  So what is Glenridge?

Glenridge was originally a 72 acre parcel of land across from the end of Church Road at the intersection of what was then Route 450 (now Old Route 450).  It was bordered on the west by a property containing a telephone utility building, and it was bordered on the east by the railroad tracks in some spots, and Route 197 in others.  The red oval in the following image illustrates the approximate location of the proposed Glenridge at Belair subdivision (the "G" section).  Twenty-two houses were eventually developed in the northeast corner of the property on Galaxy Lane in 1969.  Those 22 houses make up what is today known as the Glenridge neighborhood, and the remaining undeveloped portion of the property is now owned by the City of Bowie.

So why did Levitt & Sons alter the plans to build the Glenridge section first?  After Levitt created the initial plan for Belair at Bowie, a plan was proposed to build the Washington Outer Beltway - a highway similar to the proposed Capital Beltway that would circle the D.C. area.  The Outer Beltway would be much longer than the Capital Beltway, and it would be located farther out in the suburbs.  Part of the Outer Beltway was going to run along the northern end of Church Road, and a highway interchange was going to be built at what was then the intersection of Church Road and Route 450.

The dark blue line on the following map shows the proposed path of the Outer Beltway, and the blue circles represent the proposed interchanges.  The red arrow on the map points to the proposed interchange at the intersection of Church Road and what was then Route 450.

Levitt decided that it wouldn't be a good idea to build a neighborhood in the path of a proposed highway, so the plans were changed, and Somerset became the first Belair at Bowie neighborhood to be built.

The Washington Outer Beltway was never built as originally proposed, although the Intercounty Connector and the Fairfax County Parkway are considered to be portions of the original proposal.

Several years after the original Glenridge plan was scrapped, another proposal was made that would affect the Glenridge parcel.  A proposal was made to relocate Route 450 so that it would bisect Glenridge into two sections.  It would take more than 35 years before that proposal came to fruition.


Saturday, February 28, 2015

Simply Southern American Grille Opens in Bowie's Hilltop Plaza

February 27, 2015:  My family and I went to Simply Southern American Grille for dinner. Today was the first day the restaurant was open. Simply Southern is located in the Hilltop Shopping Center next to the Chesapeake Grille and Deli in the former Irie Café location (6840 Race Track Rd Bowie, MD 20715; (301) 262-4700).
Simply Southern is owned by Aaron and Uche Loney – the same people who own Irie Café. So it’s only natural to want to compare the two restaurants. Irie Café was very dark and uninviting. Simply Southern has a nice and bright décor. We saw a restaurant full of patrons before we even got to the front door – something we never saw with Irie Café.
Simply Southern American Grille is a sit-down restaurant with moderate prices. The wait staff is very friendly and attentive, and the restaurant is clean. The menu has a limited number of items. There’s no kids’ menu, but they will prepare things like grilled cheese and chicken nuggets on request. They have a bar area, and beer, wine and liquor are available. Entrees range in price from $14 to $21. Takeout orders are accepted.
The food was very good. I had the Jambalaya – and some of my son’s wings – and some of my daughter’s Pulled Pork Sliders – and some of my daughter’s fries. Don’t judge me. It was all good. We’ll be back for sure.

See menu below.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

When it snows, Bowie goes... sometimes

The snow and the ice from the latest winter storm caused multiple closures in the Bowie area this weekend.  The Bowie Race Course, however, once prided itself on staying open despite harsh winter weather.  "When it snows, Bowie goes," was the catch phrase that was used to indicate that horse racing would still take place during bad weather.  The reluctance of track official to cancel races at the track once caused hundreds of fans to be stranded at the track overnight.

Despite the reputation, the track did close on occasion, including the days following the "Blizzard of '66," but the track was impacted by more than just the storm that day. An early morning fire destroyed five barns and resulted in the deaths of more than 40 horses.Wind gusts in excess of 50 miles per hour fanned the flames, and caused the fire to spread quickly.

Firefighters took more than 30 minutes to navigate the snow covered roads along the way to the track. According to Robert Nelson of the Bowie Volunteer Fire Department, crews from the station had to push a stranded car from the roadway and shovel their way through three separate snow drifts in order to get their apparatus to the track.

Arriving personnel found a chaotic scene. Flames were shooting high into the air, and panicked horses and ice made for a hazardous situation.

Approximately 100 horses were let loose in an effort to save as many lives as possible. Some horses were later found roaming at the Belair Shopping Center and Glenn Dale Hospital.

This picture was taken on February 4th, 1966 during the first day in operation after the storm.  Some fans stood among the snow piles watching the final stretch of the fifth race of the day.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

#TBT - The tree-lined road leading to the Belair Mansion in 1936

The Belair Mansion, 1936

There were originally 78 tulip poplar trees that lined the entrance to the mansion, and many of those ended up in the backyards of homes in the Tulip Grove neighborhood.  The trees were originally planted in the 1750s by Colonel Benjamin Tasker, thus making these trees more than 255 years old today. After James Woodward purchased the property in 1898, he hired tree specialists from New York to administer first aid to the ailing trees.  When Levitt purchased Belair nearly 60 years later, the trees were in rough shape once again.  The trees were nursed back to health, and each tree was fitted with a lightning rod.

The photographer of this picture was most likely standing in a spot that today would be in the backyard of a home on either Tarragon Lane or Tapered Lane.