Street Smart: Bowie

July 19

Built atop tobacco fields, once called Huntington City, Bowie was renamed by a grateful citizenry to honor Gov. Oden Bowie, whose Baltimore & Potomac Railroad started operating in 1872. Decades after the trains began, Levitt and Sons’ ranchers and Cape Cods gave Bowie its quintessential suburban look.

1. Belair Mansion

12207 Tulip Grove Dr.

Built about 1745, the Georgian-style mansion was occupied by Samuel Ogle (1694-1752), three-time governor of Maryland when it was still a British colony, and later his son Benjamin, who governed Maryland when it was a state.
“On the back side is this tremendous hill” perfect for sledding, says Bob Peirce, 52, a Bowie native. “It could be, though, that now that I’m 6-4 instead of 5 feet , it’s really not that big.”

2. Bowie Center forthe Performing Arts

15200 Annapolis Rd.

After the cafeteria at Bowie High School next door proved insufficient to accommodate fans of now-retired drama teacher Eleanor Minor’s stunning productions, the center inched closer to reality because of volunteer fundraisers. “Not one penny [of the target $11 million] came from the school system,” says Mary Nusser, the center’s outreach coordinator and Class of 1973. Pictured, Bowie High grad Kiah Victoria, who has performed at the center.

3. Bowie Railroad Station and Huntington Museum

8614 Chestnut Ave.

“Bowie was born on the railroad,” says Pamela L. Williams, manager of the city’s historic properties. The outbreak of the Civil War slowed negotiations between the Bowie family and the Huntington town fathers, but track was eventually laid for what would be the first train service between Baltimore and Washington.

4. Old Bowie Town Grille

8604 Chestnut Ave.

Husband and wife Bob, pictured at top, and Theresa “Mama T” Thompson purchased the former Odd Fellows Hall, established in 1932, nearly a decade ago. Serving cream of crab soup and Delmonico steaks since 2006, the Grille also hosts bands multiple nights a week.

5. Treasure House Antiques

13010 Ninth St.

“I can buy antiques in German, Russian, Spanish, Farsi, Japanese and English,” says proprietor Al Jacobs, 84, pictured above. The retired Army colonel and National Security Agency linguist was stationed abroad with wife Mille, 86, and six children. “Once we had the largest selection of stained glass on the East Coast,” sourced from banks, castles and other sites, with pieces dating between 1860 and 1890, he says. “Bowie is home, but we’ve been to England 87 times.”

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