Interview about Brandywine, Maryland

Interview for WAMU’s April 5, 2013 Door-to-Door (brief write-up & radio recording here)

1) Where is your neighborhood located ?

It’s about 18 miles southeast of Capitol Hill – between the suburban neighborhoods and the rural countryside between Clinton and Waldorf in Prince George’s County.

2) What kind of people live in Brandywine ?

People of all walks of life live here – government workers, teachers, administrators, construction, transportation, and we still have agricultural here.

3)  How did you happen to move to your neighborhood ?

We raised our children in Clinton, just 5 miles up the road, where I ran a family day care, but as they were reaching maturity, we decided to look for the house of our dreams and we found it in Brandywine. Our Queen Anne Victorian that also happens to be on the National Register of Historic Places. We just recently helped this area become a historic district as well – we have several beautiful homes here that were built around the turn of the 19th to 20th century when this was considered a railroad town.

4) What kind of houses would a visitor driving around near your home ?

You would see a mix of single-family homes from the late 19th century through fully modern. There are only a few neighborhood associations here so the architecture is unrestricted. About a half-mile down the road starts the rural tier with farms and countryside.

5) When you walk out your door for a walk around the block, what do you see?

Since we live in the village area of Brandywine, the historic large general store is now an antique store which is right next to the railroad tracks on Brandywine Rd.  There’s also a quaint little grocery store and a BBQ restaurant – both owned and operated by local Brandywine residents. We have the post office and credit union. Then there’s a nice little residential community on Banks street where we have friends and, of course, the other historic homes across the street where our friendly neighbors live.

6) Could you tell us a little about the history of Brandywine ?

As I mentioned, this area of Brandywine was the railroad village, so it was the site of the first major store in this area of the county. Most of Brandywine contained farms, many of which were tobacco farms. The old tobacco barns are already starting to become rare historic sites. One area of Brandywine, known as Baden, contains the first church of Prince George’s County founded in 1692. The intersection of Brandywine Rd. and Rt. 5 used to be called TeeBee and the house called Gwynn Park, which is behind the high school now surrounded by a new development, was searched during the hunt for John Wilkes Booth, President Lincoln’s assassin. There’s a lot of history here and I’ve tried to collect it on the web site, BrandywineMD.com.

7) What makes your neighborhood unique in the DC metro area?

It has the quaint atmosphere of a small town with both more modern suburban on one side and rural farm land on the other, but it is still in convenient commuter distance from the city. It’s also convenient to Annapolis since Rt. 301 goes right through here. We have a new shopping center in the south part of town, Brandywine Crossing, with a variety of stores and restaurants and a new movie theater that will be opening soon, so we don’t have to drive far if we don’t want to or with the price of gas today, it’s more economic to have the conveniences nearby but without the housing congestion or the crime.

8)  What do you like about your area?

It’s an old-fashioned type community, for the most part, where people actually know each other and work together to continue to make it a better place to live. Few neighborhoods have homeowner’s associations, so it’s not something we do out of legal necessity.  We care about each other. Local residents are starting up a new after-school learning center intended to meet the needs of working parents whose kids attend Gwynn Park middle and high school. We’re neighborly. Our civic associations help people who are new here to get to know each other. We have our annual BBQ in the park. It’s laid back, but if we want more to do, the city is not very far away.

9) What about your neighborhood do most people not know that you think they SHOULD know?

It has a great mix of people where you can get to know people who are different than you and learn how to be more tolerant in our multicultural atmosphere that is the DC metro area.

10) Please repeat and complete the phrase “Brandywine is a great place to live because ….”

Brandywine is a great place to live because it has an old-fashioned laid back feel in a modern multicultural DC-area setting.