Towson, Maryland 21204 & 21286
Towson was settled in 1752 when two Pennsylvania brothers, William and Thomas Towson, began farming northeast of present-day York
and Joppa Roads
William's son, Ezekial, started the Towson Hotel at York and Joppa
Roads in 1768 to serve the increasing traffic of farmers bringing their
produce and livestock to the port of Baltimore. The village became known
as "Towsontown". Today a shopping mall is situated at the intersection of York Road and Joppa Road known as the "Towson Town Center".
In 1790, Charles Ridgely
completed the magnificent Hampton Mansion just north of Towsontown, the
largest private house in America at the time. The Ridgelys lived there
for six generations, until 1948. It is now preserved as the Hampton National Historic Site
and open to the public.
On February 13, 1854, Towson became the county seat
of Baltimore County
by popular vote. The Court House
, still in use, was designed by Dixon, Balbirnie and Dixon
and completed within a year, constructed of limestone and marble
donated by the Ridgely family, on land donated by Towson merchant
The Courthouse was subsequently enlarged in 1910 through designs for
north and south wings by Baldwin and Pennington. Expansion in 1926 and
1958 created an H-shaped plan. The Baltimore County Jail
was built in 1855.
From 1850 to 1874, another notable land owner, Amos Matthews, had a farm of 150 acres (0.61 km) that — with the exception of the 17-acre (69,000 m) largely natural parcel where the Kelso Home for Girls
(currently Towson YMCA), was later erected — was wholly developed into the neighborhoods of West Towson
, Southland Hills
and other subdivisions beginning in the middle 1920s.
The former Grafton Bosley estate 'Uplands', Towson MD. after becoming the Presbyterian Home of Maryland (photo abt 1930)
During the Civil War
Towson was the scene of two minor engagements. Many of Towson's
citizens were sympathetic to the southern cause, so much so that Ady's
Hotel, later the Towson Hotel and the current site of the Recher Theatre
, flew a southern flag. The Union Army
found it necessary to overtake the town by force on June 2, 1861. During the raid, the Union army seized weapons from citizens at Ady's Hotel.
A local paper, in jest, referred to Towson as the “strongly fortified
and almost impregnable city of Towsontown” and downplays the need for
the attack, stating, “the distinguished Straw, with only two hundred and
fifty men, has taken a whole city and nearly frightened two old women
out of their wits.”
The second engagement took place around July 12, 1864 between Union
forces. On July 10, 1864, a 135-man Confederate cavalry detachment attacked the Northern Central Railway
in nearby Cockeysville
, under orders from Gen. Bradley T. Johnson
. The First
and Second Maryland Cavalry
, led by Baltimore County native and pre-war member of the Towson Horse Guards, Maj. Harry W. Gilmor
attacked strategic targets throughout Baltimore and Harford counties,
including cutting telegraph wires along Harford Road, capturing two
trains and a Union General, and destroying a railroad bridge in Joppa,
Maryland. Following what became known as Gilmor's Raid
, the cavalry encamped in Towson overnight at Ady's Hotel where his men rested and Gilmor met with friends.
The next day, a large federal cavalry unit was dispatched from
Baltimore to overtake Gilmor's forces. Though outnumbered by more than
two to one, the Confederate cavalry attacked the federal unit, breaking
the federal unit and chasing them down York Road to around current day
Woodbourne Avenue within Baltimore City limits. Gilmor's forces traveled south along York Road as far south as Govans, before heading west to rejoin Gen. Johnson's main force. Following the war, Gilmor served as the Baltimore City Police Commissioner
in the 1870s.
The Towson fire of 1878 destroyed most of the 500 block along the York Turnpike causing an estimated $38,000 in damage.
During the summer of 1894, the Towson Water Company laid wooden pipes
and installed fire hydrants that were connected to an artesian well
near Aigburth Vale. On November 2, 1894, Towson was supplied with
electric service through connection with the Mount Washington Electric
Light and Power Company.
At the beginning of the century, Towson remained largely a rural
community. Land continued to be sold by the acre, rather than as home
parcels. Most residences lay within Towson proper: no houses existed
west of Central Avenue along Allegheny or Pennsylvania avenues, and
there were only three homes along the West Chesapeake Avenue corridor.
As the growth of Baltimore's suburbs became more pronounced after World War II
considerable office development took place in Towson's central core
area. Many of the large Victorian and colonial-style residences in the
vicinity of the Court House were demolished in the 1980s and 1990s for
offices and parking.
Towson United Methodist Church
In 1839, Epsom Chapel became the first Christian house of worship in Towson, used by various denominations. As the population grew in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, several churches were built to serve the community, such as Calvary Baptist Church
Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Trinity Episcopal Church, First
Methodist Church, and Towson Presbyterian Church. Epsom Chapel was
demolished in 1950 when Goucher College
sold a portion of its property for development of the Towson Plaza shopping center, now Towson Town Center
. First Methodist Church moved in 1958 to land also acquired from Goucher College and is now Towson United Methodist Church
Raker Appliance has been servicing all brands of major kitchen and laundry appliances in Towson since 1968.