History

Fairmount Heights



  • Bounded by Sheriff Road, Balsamtree Drive, 62rd Place, and Eastern Avenue
  • Four Historical Sites
  • 13 Historic Resources
  • Located on the National Register of Historic Places
In the late-nineteenth century, the area that would become Fairmount Heights was comprised of several small farms. They were purchased and consolidated by land speculators in the first decades of the twentieth century. Fairmount Heights contains six subdivisions platted between 1900 and 1923 by different developers. The first was platted as Fairmount Heights in 1900 by Robinson White and Allen Clark, two attorneys and developers from Washington, D.C. The initial platting contained approximately 50 acres that were divided into lots typically measuring 25 by 125 feet. White and Clark encouraged African-Americans to purchase property, and the subdivision became one of the first planned communities for black families in the country. White and Clark sold the lots at affordable prices, making home ownership attainable for many. The earliest dwellings were wood-frame construction and of modest size; however, several substantial houses were also built. Early on, the neighborhood was home to several prominent African-Americans, including William Sidney Pittman, a noted architect and son-in-law of Booker T. Washington. Pittman took an interest in the development of his own neighborhood. He formed the Fairmount Heights Improvement Company, whose purpose was to construct a social center for the community. Pittman had Charity Hall constructed, which was used for social events, as a church, and as the community’s first school. In 1908, the Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis Electric Railway opened, providing easy access for Washington, D.C., commuters. Residents of Fairmount Heights used the neighboring Gregory Station, located in Seat Pleasant. Because of the early success of Fairmount Heights and new transportation options available nearby, several new subdivisions were platted adjacent to it. Waterford, a very small subdivision adjacent to the northeast corner of Fairmount Heights, was platted by J.D. O’Meara in 1907. Mount Wiessner was platted by the Wiessner family in 1909 and featured lots approximately 50 by 125 feet. In 1910, Elizabeth Haines platted North Fairmount Heights on approximately 15 acres of land. In 1911, the Silence family platted West Fairmount Heights (also known as Bryrn Mawr)  around their family farmstead. Other African-Americans, encouraged by the development in Fairmount Heights, soon settled in the area. In addition to the Pittmans, James F. Armstrong (supervisor of colored Schools in Prince George’s Country), Henry Pinckney (White House steward to President Theodore Roosevelt), and Doswell Brooks (supervisor of Colored Schools in Prince George’s County and the first African-American appointed to the Board of Education) all erected houses in the neighborhood. Many residents worked as clerks or messengers for the federal government.

In 1920, developer Robinson White constructed 19 bungalows on 62nd Avenue in the original Fairmount Heights subdivision. In 1922, approximately 35 acres of farmland located east of Fairmount Heights was purchased by the Weeks Realty Company and platted as Sylvan Vista. The development marked the sixth and final subdivision making up the present-day Town of Fairmount Heights. Sylvan Vista had deep, narrow lots, generally measuring 25 by 125 feet, similar to the original subdivision of Fairmount Heights. The neighborhood was designed around a market circle with radiating streets. Although the lots were of similar size, the dwellings were generally smaller and more modest than the houses built in the earlier subdivisions. After several unsuccessful attempts to incorporate in the 1920s, the Town of Fairmount Heights was officially incorporated in 1935 with a mayor-council form of government. The town included all six subdivisions platted between 1900 and 1923. In 2011, the Fairmount Heights Historic District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The district was nominated under Criterion A and its significant theses include community planning and development, politics and government, and African-American ethnic heritage. The period of significance extends from 1900 to 1960. The district contains 301 contributing resources and 261 non-contributing resources, distributed over approximately 144 acres.