"The traffic on [Route] 144 has increased, but there is still a lot of farm preservation on it that tends to keep it rural. There is always change, I don't know it's for better, but it's not for worse."
Mickey Day, the fire chief of West Friendship's Volunteer Fire Company, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, grew up in West Friendship, as did his father, Calvin. They live in ranch houses, side-by-side on Mount View Road.
The younger Mr. Day, 34, stayed in the area because "it's a good mix of necessities of the city. But we keep the country environment."
As in the past, most activities in West Friendship still center on the schools, churches and fairgrounds.
The most widely recognized landmark in West Friendship is the Howard County Fairgrounds. The 89-acre tract is home to the local 4-H clubs, the annual fair, several crafts, antiques, dog, livestock and horse shows as well as auctions. An estimated 100,000 people attend the fair each year.
How the name West Friendship came about is a mystery to historians.
One theory offered is that residents of Friendship, near Baltimore-Washington International Airport formerly named Friendship Airport settled in the area and took the moniker with them. Also, West Friendship was once considered part of Anne Arundel County until 1850.
During the 1700s-1800s, West Friendship's claim to fame was its place on the National Road, later called the National Pike, used by settlers traveling west. This rocky path, once a turnpike toll road, is now Frederick Road.
The West Friendship Post Office opened in 1894, and since then only 10 postmasters have served. The post office now has about 1,000 customers, said Jerry Greenwood, postmaster since 1987.
In 1925, several one-room schools were consolidated to form West Friendship High and Consolidated School. Additions were made in 1951 and 1977 to form the present elementary school.
Students attend West Friendship Elementary, Mount View Middle School, which opened in 1993, and Glenelg High School.
A 169-book "The Past Times of West Friendship," researched by Ellen Nibali and West Friendship Elementary fourth-grade students in 1983 and fifth-graders last year, outlines the area's history. The fifth-graders also wrote a musical based on the book and performed it last spring.
Two historic churches, Sharon Missionary Church and St. James United Methodist Church, are within its boundaries. St. James celebrated its 200th anniversary last year.
The area includes Willow Springs Golf Course, Nixon's Farm, a recreation area; Mount View Cemetery and the Summer Hill Horse Farm, where Thoroughbreds are raised.
The agricultural farm preservation office is in Hebb House, situated on approximately 183 acres owned by the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks.
Looking toward the future of West Friendship, Howard County Recreation and Parks is discussing putting a golf course, community park and agricultural center on its property.
Population: 1,200 (U.S. Post Office estimate)
Commuting time to downtown Baltimore: 30 minutes
Commuting time to downtown Washington: 1 hour
Public schools: West Friendship Elementary, Mount View Middle and Glenelg High schools.
Shopping: West Friendship Shopping Center,
Nearest mall: The Mall in Columbia
Points of interest: Howard County Fairgrounds, West Friendship Park, Willow Springs Golf Course, Nixon's Farm
Zip code: 21794
Average price of a single-family home: $325,975*
* Based on 15 sales in 1995 through Mid-Atlantic Real Estate Information Technologies Inc.
Pub Date: 3/17/96