Severna Park marks 100 years

Event today includes vintage-fashion show, walking tour, music

September 24, 2006|By Susan Gvozdas | Susan Gvozdas,Special to The Sun

Mary Winkelmeyer remembers a time when only a dozen cars a day would pass her coal and feed store on Baltimore Annapolis Boulevard.

Most of her customers had a menagerie of animals - rabbits and chickens - in their back yards.

That was 50 years ago. Imagine what Severna Park, now a bustling, upscale suburb, was like in 1906.

The community will look back as far as it can today in one of the biggest celebrations of its centennial year.

A vintage-fashion show and dance demonstration will span the decades and a 1947 radio show will be re-created with local residents playing Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour.

A walking tour will take visitors to landmarks such as the former Winkelmeyer's Supply and Paint Co. Inc. store.

Winkelmeyer, who owns the building at 540 Baltimore Annapolis Blvd., took over her brother's coal and feed store in 1949.

In 1957, she and her husband, Walter, now deceased, razed the original structure and built the current building.

Winkelmeyer retired in 1980 and leased the building to other tenants.

"We were such a part of starting everything," Winkelmeyer said.

The 88-year-old plans to attend the centennial celebration that her daughter, Betty Wells, organized.

The party is the brainchild of the Association for Severna Park Improvement Renewal and Enhancement, or ASPIRE, which has encouraged local organizations to plan centennial events this year.

The Centennial Committee has organized a murals project on buildings along the B&A Trail in Old Severna Park.

Golf tournament

Tomorrow, the Greater Severna Park Chamber of Commerce will host a Centennial Golf Tournament at Chartwell Country Club, and Saturday, the Londontown Symphony Orchestra will perform in a fundraiser for the Community Center.

Once known as Boone, the farming community and summer retreat began to be subdivided in 1906 by real estate firm Severn Co.

The Baltimore & Annapolis Railroad Co. christened a train station in 1919 with the name Severna Park.

The station's post office took the name, which eventually became the name of the unincorporated area.

The railroad, however, made stops in Boone as early as 1910. When steam-operated trains became electric in 1908, they provided more luxurious travel and encouraged "streetcar suburbs" along its route, according to a history included in the Severna Park Small Area Plan.

Residents of Baltimore, Annapolis and Washington took advantage of the chance to move into a quieter, less-congested area.

Despite the growth the railroad brought, the community remained mostly rural, said Wilbur Wells, who has lived in Severna Park with his wife, Betty, for 38 years.

As farms became neighborhoods in the 1950s, the Winkelmeyers stopped selling feed and turned to hardware.

Population

The growth of Severna Park's population is hard to track because the U.S. Postal Service eventually separated Millersville into a separate ZIP code, said Al Johnston, vice president of public affairs for the Greater Severna Park Council and a 35-year resident.

Population figures until that point included Millersville. Recent figures, however, show steady growth. Severna Park grew more than 10 percent from 1990 to 2000, to 28,507. More than 1,000 more people are projected by 2020.

Severna Park now thrives with a median household income of $87,472, according to the 2000 census, and a median home sale price of $488,250 in August.

But it has seen its share of hard times, said Linda Zahn, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce.

When she came to the chamber 16 years ago, the community was weathering a recession.

In recent years the Severna Park Mall, which had been vacant for years, has been reborn as Severna Park Marketplace. Park Plaza also is filled, after having its own problems, she said.

Chamber membership also has grown from 125 members in 1990 to more than 600 this year, Zahn said.

"I've seen it really grow and change and become very prosperous," she said.

George Morris and other history buffs plan to display their collections of World War I and II equipment, uniforms, postcards and other items.

Morris, 40, who grew up in Pasadena and Glen Burnie, remembers pestering his father to take him to Dawson's Country Store in Severna Park on Sunday mornings to look at the international newspapers.

Morris was fascinated by the old newspapers plastered over the store's door from the Russian-Japanese War at the turn of the 20th century.

It is important to preserve history and pass it along to the next generation, said Morris, an attorney in Baltimore. The centennial celebration is part of that tradition.

"Things change, but events like this help you remember," he said.

For more information about centennial events, visit www.severnaparkcentennial.org.

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