Real Estate and Community Information for Chevy Chase, MD

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It appears the name Chevy Chase evolved from the development of the lands outside the District of Columbia as part of the real estate development boom on the late 1880s. One Francis G. Newlands married the daughter of U.S. Senator William Sharon, who had made a fortune from the Comstock Lode and other mining and real estate ventures. Senator Sharon etc. developed Washington real estate around Dupont Circle prior to 1885. When Sharon died, his son-in-law, Newlands, was the executor and thus had considerable resources at hand to go into real estate. Newlands himself was a congressman and later became a senator. In 1887, Newlands decided to launch a great plan of land purchase amounting to more than 1,700 acres, along with a comprehensive plan of suburban development called the Chevy Chase Land Company.

The Rock Creek Railway was chartered in 1888 by the owners of the Chevy Chase Land Company. It was intended primarily to enhance the value of their property as well as provide transportation from the city. It ran from 18th & U Sts NW out Connecticut Ave to the Chevy Chase Lake.

Newlands developed Chevy Chase Village as a planned community, with zoning, architectural controls, schools, churches, water, and sewage systems. At Chevy Chase Lake a power house was built to run the streetcars, street lights and provide electricity to the houses which would be built.

The Chevy Chase Land Co. began purchasing property in 1890. This was a slow process and during his lifetime, Newlands developed only a small portion of the land designated as homesites. Most development took place during the building boom after WWI. It wasn't until the 1920s that the Chevy Chase Land Co. was able to pay off its large debts and provide capital for commercial development.

The source for this information is: MacMaster, Richard K. et al., A Grateful Remembrance, the Story of Montgomery County, Maryland, (Rockville: Montgomery County Government, 1976), pp. 220-22, courtesy of the Maryland State Archives.