Lisbon began with a vision of its future

Roots: The county's first planned community began in 1802

150 Years ofHoward History

January 30, 2001

Barbara Warfield Feaga, who grew up near Lisbon, lives in Ellicott City. These excerpts from her article on Lisbon are taken from her book, "Howard's Roads to the Past," a compilation of short pieces by residents and local historians, published in December. Her grandfather Joshua D. Warfield is the author of an early history, "Founders of Anne Arundel and Howard County," published in 1905.

We tend to think that the idea of planned communities is new but actually Lisbon claims to be the first planned community in Howard County. In its earliest years, it had several businesses, an interfaith center, the first Presbyterian Church in Howard County, the first high school in the county, and the first lady non-teaching principal. ...

In 1802, an enterprising and forward thinking man, Caleb Pancoast, purchased property from Seth Warfield and James Barnes in order to build his planned community. He first built his home there in 1804. ... In 1822, he enlarged his land and laid out the town with one hundred lots of about 1/4 acre each, complete with streets and alleys.

As the town progressed, it included a stagecoach stop, a hotel, a blacksmith, cobbler and other necessities of a small community. All travel west at that time went through Lisbon. By 1835, there were eight stagecoaches stopping in town on a daily schedule.

In 1851, a trip to Lisbon from the east would be by horseback, wagon or carriage. The roads were not paved with asphalt, but constant usage made them fairly comfortable. Before you entered town, you would look to the right to see Oakley Farm, the home of Ely Warfield, son of Seth who sold land for part of the original location. This was the stopping place for the Union troops on their way to the Battle of [Antietam]. Despite the fact that the Warfields were southern sympathizers, they were treated with respect by the Union troops. ...

Continuing into town, we would have found on the left the Union Church for Public Worship, open for use of all denominations, Lisbon's own interfaith church. ... It was on this location that Lisbon School was later built. As a child in the elementary school, I well remember the playground that had several gravestones in poor condition. What ever happened to these graves and their stones remains a mystery buried deep in Board of Education history.

Lisbon had the distinction of having the first public high school in the county. Built in 1899, it only remained open for two years and graduated two people, one per year. The Board of Education closed it the following year, a year before Ellicott City High School opened. After that time, any student wishing to obtain a high school education would have been required to travel about twenty miles to Ellicott City. Very few could make that trip. The new Lisbon High School was not completed until 1920, however my mother, Josephine D'Unger Warfield, who was a teacher at the elementary school in 1915 and 1916, offered voluntary classes after school hours to anyone who could not make the trip to Ellicott City. ...

Lisbon Elementary School also had the distinction of having the first female non-teaching principal in the county, Mrs. Elsie Davis. Having had her as my teacher for four of my Lisbon years, it was no surprise to me that she was chosen for this honor since her abilities were obvious to us all. Mrs. Davis was appointed principal of the elementary and junior high school in 1958. ... Lisbon, under her leadership, became the first school in the county to become completely integrated, students and staff. ...

I have many other memories of the school that housed grades one through eleven, adding the twelfth grade in 1950. During the war years, the students spent considerable time gathering milkweed, scrap metal and other items necessary for the war effort. Route 40, which passed immediately in front of the school, was the main route to the east and to the debarkation of troops leaving for their battle stations. The large army convoys would travel past, seemingly endless. The children would line the road and wave to the soldiers. ... Lisbon High School closed its doors in 1958 when Glenelg High School was opened. Since that time, the original school has been torn down and replaced with a modern building that houses grades one through five.

The town was laid out with a few brick houses of moderate size and several small cabins that would be finished with siding in the late 1930s. ...The Lisbon Hotel stood on the corner of Woodbine Road and Main Street. ... Still standing, it shows how the upper porch was a grand place to sit on a hot summer evening to catch the breeze coming from the south. You could see far over the fields and enjoy the sunset. Lisbon became a popular location for city folks to "summer in the county." They would travel from Baltimore to Woodbine by train and be picked up in the buggy. This hotel later became the popular store of Miss Molly Poole. She was most popular because little girls and boys were always treated to penny candy there. The post office was located there in 1851. The rear wing of this house was the original home of Pancoast, built in 1804. When Miss Molly became too feeble to care for the store, it closed its doors forever.

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