Scaggsville is a suburban Maryland enclave with a long history. The area owes its name to Englishman Alfred Scaggs, who, in the 1820s, ventured to America, married, and built a home in what is now Howard County. He and his wife, Mary Ann Hyatt Duvall Scaggs, continued to accumulate land — more than 400 acres in total — which was divided among Mary Ann, their eight children, and their grandchildren upon his death in 1875.

Scaggs descendants have continued to be productive citizens, establishing a post office in the late 19th century, farming the land, and owning and operating local stores. One even served as the county’s register of wills. They were also active in Emmanuel Methodist Church, built in 1893. The church continues to be a thriving hub of activity, worship, and service in the heart of the community.

Scaggsville resident and Emmanuel Methodist Church member Rosemary Robinson volunteers by tending the cemetery in the churchyard. She moved to her then-new house in 1984.

“I wanted a split-level house like the one I grew up in, in Aberdeen, Md.,” she said.

The various subdivisions in Scaggsville include a number of Colonials, ramblers, townhouses and split-levels.

Robinson says people who don’t know the history of the area sometimes question the unusual name.

“When I look at the grave of the Scaggs family, I understand where the name ‘Scaggsville’ came from, and it does not seem strange at all,” she noted.

Scaggsville homes may have the more recognized Laurel in their addresses, but the highway exit signs say Scaggsville and the place where many commuters catch buses is called Scaggsville Park and Ride.

“When people ask where I live, I always say Scaggsville,” said Robinson. “They do not know where that is. Then I say, ‘when you are on I-95 there is a sign for it.’ ”

When one of Alfred Scaggs’s descendants, Clifton Scaggs, opened a post office at the southwest corner of Scaggsville Road and Columbia Pike in 1887, the local residents may have been all too happy to trade out the area’s name at the time: Hell’s Corner.

“They were still calling it Hell’s Corner well into the 20th century,” said Shawn Gladden, executive director at the Howard County Historical Society.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Scaggsville is an unincorporated municipality that had a population of 24,333 in 2010 (the latest census available). The neighborhood lies between Fulton and Laurel, bordered by the Patuxent River to the south and Interstate 95 to the east. It occupies the west part of the 20723 Zip code.

Many newcomers think of the area as Laurel, said Gladden.

“Scaggsville was never really a town, but just an area, a coach stop along Old Columbia Pike,” said Gladden. “They had a schoolhouse that doubled as a saloon, a country store, a pool hall and gas station.”

Nancy Cummins, a real estate agent with Long & Foster, notes that most of the homes that lie within the area historically identified as Scaggsville no longer have it as a town name.

“Most of the homes use either Emerson or Laurel as the property address,” she said.

Widespread development of the area over the past several decades, mostly construction of housing subdivisions, has changed the appearance and character of the area from rolling farmland to suburbs of large homes on large, grassy lots.

“The hardest thing to get used to is seeing the little bit of the original farmland left disappearing,” said Robinson.

Susan Kim grew up in Scaggsville in a 1960s rambler on what had been farmland. As an adult, Kim bought her own home in Scaggsville — a two-story Colonial built in 2000.

“I feel proud of the heritage of Scaggsville and, at the same time, feel proud that many diverse, tolerant, caring and loving people have chosen to make Scaggsville home,” she said.

Another Scaggsville resident, Wendy Grant-McAuley, moved to the neighborhood this spring.

“We called it our pandemic house,” she joked. ““We already lived close by, but we were renting. We were living in a townhouse with four kids and we were all stuck inside. We wanted to stay in the area because the schools are very good. We wanted a place with a lot of outdoor space and a big deck.”

She and her husband, Riley Grant-McAuley, found exactly that in a 1989 farmhouse-style home with a front porch running the length of the house on three-quarters of an acre.

“We were drawn to our house because it’s off the main road,” she said. “There are a lot of trees and birds. We were surprised to find that here because you tend to think of this area as being so built-up. It’s rural but not. You’re very close to lots of suburban civilization but a little more isolated.”

The commute is another reason they moved here. They both work at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, which is “about a 30-minute drive at the times we drive,” said Wendy Grant-McAuley. The commute “is definitely worth it to be living in such a nice community.”

Living there: There are 27 homes are for sale in the 20723 Zip code that includes Scaggsville. The highest-priced is a five-bedroom, five-bathroom Colonial listed for $835,000. The lowest-priced is a three-bedroom, three-bathroom duplex listed for $280,000.

In 2019, 441 homes sold in the 20723 Zip code, ranging from a two-bedroom, two-bathroom townhouse for $118,075 to a newly constructed seven-bedroom, five-bathroom Colonial for $841,444. The average price of homes sold last year was $435,000.

Schools: Hammond and Fulton elementary, Hammond and Lime Kiln middle and Hammond, Atholton and Reservoir high.

Transit: Several regional and commuter buses serve Scaggsville at Scaggsville Park and Ride, which is on the west side of Columbia Pike at Scaggsville Road. The nearest MARC train stations are the Savage and Laurel Park stations.

To see more photos of Scaggsville, go to washingtonpost.com/
realestate.