The Washington Post

Street Smart: What to do in Bowie

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.

Belair Manson. Photo by Amy Rogers Nazarov

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."



The Bowie Center for the Performing Arts' October performance of "Cinderella," produced by Eleanor Minor of Bowie High School. Photo courtesy of the Bowie Center for the Performing Arts


Bowie Center for the 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.



The caboose at the Bowie Railroad Station and Huntington Museum. Photo by Amy Rogers Nazarov

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 through Bowie between Baltimore and Washington.



Old Bowie Town Grille owner Bob Thompson. Photo by Amy Rogers Nazarov

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.



Al Jacobs and wife Mille, owners of Treasure House Antiques. Photo by Amy Rogers Nazarov

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."


For stories, features such as Date Lab, Gene Weingarten and more, visit WP Magazine.

Follow the Magazine on Twitter.

Like us on Facebook.

E-mail us at



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read
Your Three. Video curated for you.
Next Story
Tim Carman · July 17, 2014

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.