Antiquing in Odenton Mall for collectibles in former discount store another sign of change.

March 18, 1997

THE ODENTON-FORT MEADE area of western Anne Arundel County is changing rapidly enough that you never know what you will find there.

For example, the number of pleasant Asian eateries keeps increasing on the old "Boomtown" stretch along Route 175.

Odenton has also become home in the past year to one of the biggest antiques malls around -- though the old Jamesway department store at Ridgeview Plaza may not be quite as large as the restored Savage Mill in Laurel.

But with some 165 dealers under one roof, it is a respectable operation, filled with an amazing variety of old stuff, from furniture to books and posters.

A few years ago, Glen Burnie experienced a mini-boom in antique stores. But none had the size or range of the AAA Antiques Mall.

That this operation decided to locate in Odenton is further evidence of the transformation of the community, once best known as a transfer point for passengers traveling between Baltimore, Annapolis and Washington. (To some old-timers, Odenton's claim to fame was as the birthplace of Babe Phelps, who played for the Chicago Cubs in 1933-34 and then for the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1935-41).

Now that military reorganization has ended the artillery training and troop processing that once were the hallmarks of Fort George G. Meade, the surrounding suburb is acquiring a noticeable middle-class flavor.

The area's largest employer on base is the National Security Agency. Construction is everywhere. The Environmental Protection Agency is building a laboratory and office building and the Defense Information School is erecting a new facility.

The antiques mall is another manifestation of that social change that has wiped out many tawdry massage parlors and noisy juke joints. Old collectibles may be easier to find in today's Odenton than love for sale.

The spring flea market season is fast approaching. But before it begins there is ample time to stop by the Odenton antiques emporium. Among its amenities is a mailing service for those who do not want to carry their purchases. And the mall also arranges bus trips to big out-of-town flea markets and antiques barns. Who knows what you will find next in Odenton?

Pub Date: 3/18/97

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