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North Beach Town

North Beach Town Hall is located at 8916 Chesapeake Avenue, North Beach, MD 20714; phone: 301-855-6681.

Beginnings

Calvert County was established in 1654. A map drawn by cartographer Augustine Hermann in 1673 shows farms along the shoreline in the area we know as North Beach. The people who settled there probably produced tobacco for the European market. The location along the shore would have afforded front row views to the war time activities on the Bay during the War of 1812, and the Civil War. After the Civil War, the total population of Calvert County declined and farming continued to be the principal means of making a living.

The development of North Beach has been dependent on four factors: location on a water front; proximity to urban areas; intermodal accesses; and entrepreneurship. Until the 1890s what is now the Town of North Beach was undeveloped. Although the land was located strategically on the Chesapeake Bay and in close proximity to both Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, it was nearly inaccessible. The community shares a border to the south with land which had been developed a few years earlier by the Chesapeake Beach Railway Company which by 1899 ran a rail line between Seat Pleasant, Maryland at the District of Columbia line and the town of Chesapeake Beach. It was promoted as being a high class seashore resort within sixty minutes ride from Washington. Hotels, rooming houses and restaurants were built for vacationers. Many summer cottages were constructed in North Beach by people responding to the quality of life of seashore living.

North Chesapeake Beach, as North Beach was originally known, was platted in 1900 and developed by the North Chesapeake Beach Land and Improvement Company of Calvert County to buy, sell, and mortgage land. The streets were laid out in a grid pattern following the shore of the Chesapeake Bay. They were named for cities across the country. Lots were typically 50' x 150' with a building restriction line of twenty feet from the street.

Construction of buildings, most of which were summer cottages, began in the early 1900s. By the 1920s there was a thriving small summer community with not only homes but also churches and shops. A commercial area centered at 3rd Street and Chesapeake Avenue grew around a trolley line that ran to Chesapeake Beach and the amusement park which was built here. Many of the surviving dwellings were built between 1920 and 1940.

In 1910, North Beach had grown and prospered sufficiently to be granted a corporate charter by the State to be a self governing municipality and remains today as one of only two municipalities in Calvert County. In the 1930s, along with the onset of economic depression, two events occurred that impacted the future of the Town; the hurricane of 1933 and the Chesapeake Beach Railway closing in 1935. The storm destroyed the pier at the end of Fifth Street and Captain Oscar's Crab House located on the beach. The pier and restaurant were rebuilt as Uncle Billie's but business was never as brisk as it had been previously. In the winter of 1945 fire destroyed all of the businesses in one block of the commercial area on Chesapeake Avenue between 2nd and 3rd Streets which included a hardware store, lumber yard, restaurant, dry goods store, drug store, several apartments, and doctors and lawyers offices.

Following World War II, legalized slot machines and other gambling attractions in Southern Maryland brought a resurgence of tourism to the beaches. This also brought a change in the nature of the town as a resort attraction from family facilities to gambling devices. One-day automobile trips replaced the extended stay characterized by tourists brought by common carrier. Family oriented establishments were replaced by taverns and bars.

Easy access by automobile to the Eastern Shore by the opening of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in 1952 occurred just as North Beach was becoming more and more dependent upon slot machines as its main attraction. Repeal of legalized gambling in 1968 dealt a sharp blow to the prosperity of not only North Beach but Southern Maryland as well.

  1. Town of North beach, Calvert, County, MD, Comprehensive Plane, 2012, www.ci.north-beach.md.us, accessed July, 2013.
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