CHEVY CHASE isn’t a town itself; it’s a
collection of villages, towns and unincorpo-
rated areas with different looks and feels—
and in some cases, with very different his-
tories. For example, while two of those
communities, Chevy Chase Village and the
Village of Friendship Heights, share a com-
mon border, they hardly share a similar
past. A 1971 interview with the late Chevy
Chase grande dame Edith Claude Jarvis, on
file at the Montgomery County Historical
Society library, speaks volumes about that
“During my administration, we had
quite a squabble over the Saks Fifth Avenue
store coming into the Village,” Jarvis said.
A squabble over Saks Fifth Avenue?
Wasn’t Saks good enough for Chevy
Jarvis was a member of the ChevyChase Village Board of Governors dur-ing the 1950s and early 1960s. She alsowas the granddaughter of Maj. GeorgeAugustus Armes, one of the founders ofChevy Chase, and thus a link to the ideol-ogy of strict planning and exclusivity thatdefined the posh suburb at its creation.
The Chevy Chase Land Co., whichbroke ground in the early 1890s, bannedall commerce from residential neigh-borhoods. This was inspired by the pre-eminent landscape architect of the time,Frederick Law Olmsted, who proclaimedthat the “tendency of civilization” was to“separate and greatly distinguish busi-ness premises from domestic premises.”Along with the Boston-based Olmstedand Washington, D.C.-based designerLeon Dessez, the land company came upwith a plan of winding streets wrappedaround hillsides and enlivened with nativeoak, maple, elm, sycamore and dogwood.
The name recalled both a 1725
land grant for the area, called “Cheivy
Chace,” and the Cheviot hills along the
border of England and Scotland.
Chevy Chase “was a seminal devel-
During the 19th century, the Shoemak-
opment in the history of the growth of
the Nation’s Capital for the influence it
exerted upon the location and quality
of other suburban subdivisions,” wrote
Montgomery County historian Joey
Lampl in her 1998 history of the com-
munity. Its “well-built houses repre-
sent an important cultural expression of
American wealth and power.”
Friendship Heights’ origins and aspi-
rations, by contrast, were humble. The
name comes from the 3,000-acre “Friend-
ship” land grant made to colonists in 1713.
ers, a Quaker family from Philadelphia,
farmed the land along Georgetown-Fred-
erick turnpike (now Wisconsin Avenue)
on both sides of the District line. It was a
quiet place, about a mile from Tenleytown,
then a largely working-class community.
By 1900, the Georgetown trolleyreached Montgomery County’s south-ern border. Local entrepreneurs, includ-ing Albert Shoemaker (great-grandson oforiginal settler Samuel Shoemaker) andHenry Offutt, a Georgetown grocer turnedbanker, constructed homes for commut-ers. Offutt subdivided 16 acres in 1901
along the northern side of Willard Avenue.
The 32-acre “Village of Friendship
Heights and the Hills,” recognized by the
Maryland legislature in 1914, included
The Kensington Trolley at Chevy
Chase Lake in about 1905
Two boys walking
Road at Williams
Lane looking north,
in about 1920
Small-town roots BY STEVE DRYDEN
our towns | CHEVY CHASE