Riverdale Park Historic District
Riverdale, Prince Georges County
The neighborhood of Riverdale Park is bordered by Baltimore Avenue (US 1) to the west and the Northeast Branch of the Anacostia River to the east, with the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad tracks bisecting the community north to south. The City of College Park is located to the north, and the City of Hyattsville to the southwest. The plat, as laid out by surveyor D.J. Howell in 1889, consisted of three sections. Queensbury Road was designated as the primary east-west corridor. The community was centered around the B & O passenger station. As envisioned by the development company, rail-related transportation spurred the initial settlement of Riverdale Park and the development of many of the surrounding communities. The emergence of the automobile as a primary form of transportation prompted the establishment of a commercial corridor along Baltimore Avenue, which later became the main north-south route for the community. Riverdale Park developed gradually, thereby ensuring that the original 1889 plan and the three additions platted in the first half of the 20th century remained largely intact. One of the more imposing features of the community is the early-19th century mansion known as Riversdale, and its freestanding outbuilding and family cemetery. As the centerpiece of the community, Riversdale is set within an 8-acre parcel surrounded by subdivided housing lots. Residential buildings make up most of the neighborhood, with commercial corridors at the center of the town and to the west along Baltimore Avenue. The residential buildings date from the 1890s to the last decade of the 20th century, with only three resources associated with Riversdale dating from before the platting of the neighborhood. Residential buildings are set back from the tree-lined streets on rectangular lots, and many have driveways and freestanding garages.
Riverdale Park is an excellent example of the many residential subdivisions that emerged in Prince George's County in the last decades of the 19th century to support the burgeoning population flocking to the nation's capital. The middle-class suburb, which is framed by major transportation corridors, expanded with the early-20th century advent of the streetcar and automobile. Riverdale Park developed primarily under the direction of the Riverdale Park Company between the 1889 platting of the community and 1920. As originally laid out by D.J. Howell, Riverdale Park incorporated a series of angular streets and landscaped traffic circles. The three original sections of the suburb utilized relatively uniform lot dimensions and building setbacks, thereby creating a cohesive development of middle- and upper-middle class housing. The residential housing lots surrounded the Federal-style Riversdale Mansion, which was constructed for the Stier and Calvert families between 1801 and 1807. The original subdivision of Riverdale Park was smaller than the present neighborhood, which now includes additions platted as "West Riverdale," "Gretta Addition to Riverdale," and "Dr. R.A. Bennett's Addition to Riverdale." The chronological development of the now-enlarged Riverdale Park neighborhood is documented by its architecture, which includes a wide arrange of construction dates from the 1890s to the infill construction of the late 1990s. Varying from large 2 1/2-story wood frame dwellings to smaller bungalows, the residential areas of the neighborhood are generally defined by an eclectic collection of imposing Queen Anne and Colonial Revival houses, and more modest examples of Colonial Revival, Craftsman, and Tudor Revival dwellings. The availability of retail stores at the center of the subdivision and along Baltimore Avenue aided the independence of the community and its eventual incorporation as a town.