Not just post office, Arnold seeks stamp

ZIP code community looks to past to define future

February 17, 2006|By NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON | NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON,SUN REPORTER

Since launching its Scenic Arnold campaign last spring, the Arnold Preservation Council has been trying to answer a seemingly simple question: What makes Arnold Arnold?

Is it the expansive farms and lush foliage? The scenic waterfront? Or is it the easy-to-remember 21012 ZIP code?

"Our big conundrum is that most people don't know that Arnold is anything other than a ZIP code, and we don't have a single town center," said Sage Mumma, president of the council. "We don't even know what we're going to call ourselves. Are we Arnoldites?"

Answers might come in the next phase of the push to brand Arnold, which begins with a vision and design forum at 8:30 a.m. March 4. The event will be held at Asbury United Methodist Church and begins at 8:30 a.m. It's part of a three-pronged effort to brand Arnold as something more than a suburb of 25,000 that is situated near a post office.

In November, the preservation group planted grasses, holly trees, magnolias and dogwoods in the median from Route 2 in Severn Park to U.S. 50. The effort was funded by the Maryland State Highway Administration and donations raised by the group. Also in November, the history committee began showing a presentation about Arnold's past.

It's all about figuring out where Arnold has been and where the suburb can go, Mumma said.

"We want to look at what can become of Arnold in the next 20 years," Mumma said. "Planting trees is about Arnold present, gathering history is Arnold past, and envisioning is about Arnold's future."

The history committee prepared a computer slide show called "Arnold, Maryland: The Little Post Office That Grew," and presented it recently to a small group at the Arnold Senior Center. Alberta Stornetta, co-chairwoman of the committee, said the longtime Arnold residents gave her even more information on Arnold's history.

So far, the committee has fleshed out a past that begins with John Arnold, a veteran of the War of 1812, who came by 300 acres of land on the north shore of the Severn River. His son Thomas Arnold owned a store that doubled as a post office and "was the place to be," Stornetta said. In 1879, the Baltimore & Annapolis Railroad came through, and the town slowly grew from there.

Thomas Arnold, who eventually became postmaster, and many of his relatives are buried in the cemetery at Asbury United Methodist Church.

Much of the information for the history project so far has come from the Maryland State Archives, Stornetta said.

"Arnold is not a town. It is not incorporated. It has no elected officials. It's a post office," Stornetta said. "But it's also a community, and that's what we're trying to portray."

For more information, contact Sage Mumma at 410-544-1273 or apcinc@riva.net, or Ann Fligsten at 410-544-1454 or annfligsten@aol.com.

nia.henderson@baltsun.com

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