Photo credit: S. Murphy , 05/2002

Property Name: Woodwardville Historic District
Date Listed: 11/8/2003
Inventory No.: AA-890
Location: Patuxent Road, Odenton, Anne Arundel County

Description: Woodwardville is a small, unincorporated rural community situated in western Anne Arundel County, containing 27 structures, 16 of which are historic. Most are located adjacent to Patuxent Road, which runs through the center of the village. On the north end of the district, a small street, 5th Avenue, runs west from Patuxent Road. The small dead-end road once continued west to Laurel; three of the seven buildings along it are historic. Woodwardville's building stock consists principally of late-19th and early-20th century domestic architecture. Good examples of the Bungalow, Foursquare, Tudor Revival, and Queen Anne styles are present, as well as older traditional vernacular classifications such as the I-house. These older forms are supplemented by a handful of post-World War II era structures. . Woodwardville also features several public or commercial buildings including a church, a former schoolhouse, the ruins of a store and storage or service buildings associated with the railroad. Many of Woodwardvilles' older buildings fell into decline following World War II, but in recent years, due to its close proximity to commuter rail service, Woodwardville has evolved into a bedroom community for persons working in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. Investment by new residents resulted in the restoration and renovation of many buildings which had formerly been in deteriorating condition. Despite intense development a few miles away, this quaint community retains its ability to communicate its historic qualities and distinct sense of place.

Significance: Woodwardville is a small rural village located south of Odenton. Its development is directly related to the construction of the Baltimore & Potomac Railroad, initiated in 1867 and completed in 1872. This line later became part of the Pennsylvania Railroad system, and is now operated by Amtrak. A station, known as Patuxent, was established in 1872 and three years later, the name of Woodwardville was given to the emerging village when a post office opened in the Abram G. Woodward General Store. Woodward, a descendant of the prominent Woodward family in Maryland, served as a tobacco inspector in 1866-1867, a property assessor in 1876, and a census enumerator in 1880. He served as postmaster from 1875 until his death in 1906. The village grew along Patuxent Road, paralleling the railroad and centered around the station, store, and Methodist Church. A cross-road, today known as 5th Avenue, runs west under the rail line. Prior to the development of Fort George G. Meade in 1917, the road once continued to Laurel. By 1878, the population of Woodwardville had grown to 50. The Maryland Directory of that year lists a machinist, shoemaker, blacksmith, wheelwright, miller, attorney, and physician in the town, in addition to A. G. Woodward as postmaster and seller of general merchandise. In 1879, public school #8 was built near Patuxent Station, with William T. Anderson serving as the first schoolteacher. Although in ruinous condition, the school still survives on the east side of Patuxent Road. In 1882, Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church South was dedicated. Today known as the Trinity United Methodist Church, it remains the centerpiece of the village. The general store, which unfortunately does not survive, was located on the west side of the road, just south of where 5th Avenue runs under the railroad track. The A.D. Riden Hardware Store and Office, a molded concrete block building built in the 1920s, lies just south of the site. The construction of Fort George G. Meade in 1917 west of Odenton involved the usurping of farmland owned by residents of Woodwardville. Furthermore, the siting of Fort Meade closed off the area between Woodwardville and Laurel, prompting the Pennsylvania Railroad to close Patuxent Station. In 1927, the Woodwardville Post Office closed, after which the town became known as Patuxent. During the 1980s, at the behest of local residents, the town was renamed Woodwardville. The architectural character of Woodwardville's surviving buildings, its setting, and physical arrangement evoke a palpable image of late-19th century rural villages that once were typical on the Anne Arundel County landscape. Of these, Woodwardville, Davidsonville, and Owensville are the only three surviving crossroads communities in the county that still retain a significant degree of architectural and historical integrity.


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