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History

History Part 4

Newlands is most often credited with being the primary catalyst for the development of Chevy Chase, although some sources credit Colonel Armes with the original concept. Whether or not Newlands first thought of the idea, it was he who was the driving force behind Chevy Chase in its formative years. He attracted a powerful and talented group of men to his new Chevy Chase Land Company. Stewart was a partner, purchasing $300,000 of the first issue of Land Company stock. Perhaps more important, he was its strong legislative supporter in Congress, backing both the creation of Rock Creek Park and the charter of the streetcar line.

In the years just preceding 1890, Newlands had launched an ambitious campaign of land purchases. His goal was to buy any parcel that touched on his projected length of Connecticut Avenue. Through straw purchases made secretly by his agents under a variety of names, he quietly bought up farmland amounting to more than 1,700 acres along the entire proposed length of Connecticut Avenue from Boundary Street (now Florida Avenue) to what is now Jones Bridge Road. Edward J. Stellwagen and Armes acted as principal agents and/or brokers for the acquisitions, and all holdings of the agents and trustees were transferred to the new Chevy Chase Land Company in 1890.

Newlands' key early purchase was Chevy Chase, a 305-acre plot of land straddling the line between Maryland and the District of Columbia. The name, which he subsequently adopted for the entire new subdivision, can be traced to the larger tract of land called "Cheivy Chace” that was patented to Colonel Joseph Belt from Lord Baltimore on July 10, 1725. It has historic associations to a 1388 battle between Lord Percy of England and Earl Douglas of Scotland. At issue in this "chevauchee" (a Scottish word describing a border raid) were hunting grounds or a “chace" in the Cheviot Hills of Northumberland and Otterburn. Part of the land patented in 1725 to Colonel Belt was sold in 1815 to Assistant Postmaster General Abraham Bradley. It was later acquired by businessmen and speculators, and then sold to the Chevy Chase Land Company.

Newlands was a farsighted businessman, intent on the finest quality of development. His goals are captured by a 1916 brochure, titled "Chevy Chase for Homes," which was produced by the Land Company's exclusive leasing agent, Thos. J. Fisher & Co.:

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