The automobile literally changed everything. Automobile owners could conveniently live some distance from the railroad or the trolley. Indeed automobile owners could provide their own transportation to jobs in the District.
Developers were quick to recognize the new situation as a golden opportunity to sell real estate. Many subdivisions were platted around Silver Spring in the 1910s and 1920s. The population of what is now Silver Spring and Wheaton boomed from 14,285 in 1920 to 49,206 in 1930. Not coincidentally, the number of motor vehicles in Maryland grew from 103,000 in 1920 to 320,000 in 1929; the number of cars in the urban areas probably grew even faster. Country estates and rural subdivisions gave way to advancing suburbanization. Twenty-three thousand acres of Montgomery County farm land was converted to suburban development between 1912 and 1932.
Woodside Park was one of many subdivisions platted in the 1910s and 1920s. But it was not
typical. Woodside Park was planned from the beginning to be "Washington's Most Beautiful
Suburb" with "Acre Plots for Homes of Distinction." This was not mere advertising hype. Not
only were the lots unusually large, the developers ensured that all homes built would be relatively
expensive and that they would be built well back from the development's often wide and unusually
well constructed streets. While most of the original lots have been divided, today's Woodside Park
retains much of the atmosphere that did make the area "Washington's Most Beautiful Suburb" and
the home of many prominent people.
The Woodside Park Area
The Woodside Park neighborhood as it is recognized today is shown on the map on the "Contents" page. As described in an early Civic Association document, it is roughly bounded as follows: Starting at Spring Street on Georgia Avenue, the east side of Georgia Avenue to a point slightly above Grace Church, thence cross country to near the beginning of Dale Drive [at Columbia Boulevard], thence east on both sides of Dale Drive to Colesville Road, then south on the west side of Colesville Road to Spring Street, then the north side of Spring Street to the beginning point on Georgia Avenue. Added to this are the houses on the 9500 block of Clement Road and the 1200 block of Clement Place in "Watson's Addition to Woodside Park," which was created by Mary C. Watson, Jacob S. Gruver and Anne R. Gruver in October 1940. The owners of houses in this small subdivision were admitted to membership in the Civic Association since they had no neighbors except those across Dale Drive in Woodside Park.
The principal part of the neighborhood as defined above was Alton Farm, which contained about 182 acres and was covered by the original plats for Woodside Park filed on January 30, 1923. This land had for many years belonged to the Noyes family, identified since 1867 with the ownership and operation of the Evening Star Newspaper Company, and was sold to the Woodside Development Corporation by deed of trust dated December 1, 1922 for development into a high grade community of individual homes.
Three other small areas although not a part of the original Woodside Park subdivision have always been considered a part of the Civic Association's area. One of these was the large lot now containing the original house at 9111 Georgia Avenue and two adjoining new houses, one facing Grace Church Road and one facing Georgia Avenue. This lot had been a part of Alton Farm but was sold by the Noyes estate to a buyer favored by the Woodside Development Corporation (as explained later in this history) without ever being included in the Woodside Park subdivision. The second area was a lot on the southwest corner of Colesville Road and Dale Drive that was not a part of Alton Farm. This area is now a part of the St. Luke Lutheran Church property. A third area along Dale Drive near Crosby and Midwood Roads, which was platted as Woodside Forest Section One in 1936, has also been considered a part of Woodside Park since it was developed before the rest of Woodside Forest in the blocks north of Dale Drive.
In the late 1940s the area of the Civic Association was expanded to embrace small adjoining
sections of land which seemed logically a part of the neighborhood:
1. An area (23.5 acres) that had been a part of the Wilson Farm. The boundaries of this area
began at Georgia Ave. and Spring Street, ran north on Georgia to the rear of the lots fronting on
the south side of Noyes Drive, followed the rear lot line of the lots facing Noyes around the curve
to the rear of the lots on the north side of the 8900 block of Fairview Road, followed the rear lot
line of these lots back to Spring Street, and then followed Spring Street back to the corner of
Spring and Georgia.
2. Griffith's addition to Woodside Park, consisting of about seven acres making up most of the
block bounded by Colesville Road, Noyes Drive, Fairview Road and Spring Street.
3. The property facing Fairview Road between Griffith's Addition and Alton Farm, now the site of
the Woodside Park Townhouses.
While the Noyes estate formed the basis of Woodside Park, it was not the first subdivision planned in the neighborhood or even the first subdivision planned on what became Alton Farm. It was the fourth. There had been earlier subdivisions in the 1880s and 1890s. The first was Selina Wilson's 1887 subdivision of the southeast corner of her farm. The area surrounded by the Brookeville Turnpike (now Georgia Avenue), the Colesville Turnpike (now Colesville Road), and her new Spring Street (which then had a much sharper "J"-shaped curve and intersected Georgia Avenue where Planning Place now intersects it, not where Spring Street intersects Georgia Avenue today--a line of telephone poles and cables still follows the original Spring Street right-of-way through the large parking lot behind the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission building) plus about seven acres east of the new Spring Street and north of Colesville Road made up her addition. The seven acres were divided into seven lots, five facing Spring Street, one facing Colesville Road, and one facing the Spring Street-Colesville Road corner. Most of the area covered by these seven lots was eventually re-platted as Griffith's Addition to Woodside Park and most of the area became non-residential in the 1960s, but a small part of it was assimilated into Alton as the "Spring Street property;" the rest of Selina Wilson's addition is a part of the downtown Silver Spring Central Business District.
The second subdivision came on December 11, 1891 when William L.F. King filed a plan for a subdivision bearing his name on a more or less trapezoidal shaped piece of land purchased from the estate of John C. Wilson, Selina Wilson's husband. The north side of the tract was about 1200 feet long; the south side was only about 720 feet long. The trapezoid was about 575 feet from top to bottom. The proposed subdivision had only one street, C Street, which was directly across the Brookeville Turnpike (now Georgia Avenue) from Woodside's C Street (now Noyes Drive; Woodside's streets were renamed to conform to the street names in Woodside Park in the 1940s). Woodside had been established 2 years earlier by Benjamin F. Leighton on part of the original Wilson Farm inherited by John C. Wilson's older brother on the west side of what is now Georgia Avenue. King's C Street extended east about 800 feet from the Turnpike and ended in a circle with a diameter of 180 feet. The center 60 feet of the circle was to be a park; all the lots faced C Street; most were about a half acre in size. The circle would have been about where 1229 and 1233 Noyes Drive are now.
William L.F. King's subdivision was not an instant success. Only one lot was sold before 1895. Then in May 1895 William S. Thompson, Jr. and his wife Nettie bought all the lots on the north side of C Street. They built a house and stable. The "Thompson house," which eventually was numbered as 1319 Noyes Drive (on the northeast corner of Noyes Drive and Georgia Avenue), became the home of Charles W. Hopkins after his Woodside Development Corporation bought the Noyes estate. The home, which has been enlarged and much altered, now serves as the Woodside Synagogue. In November 1895 all the lots on the south side of C Street, except the one that had been previously sold, were sold as a group. The buyer also purchased the single lot that had been sold in 1891 from its owner so he owned all the land on the south side of the street. Nothing was built on these lots.
The third subdivision in what is now Woodside Park was platted a little more than four years after William L.F. King's subdivision but less than six months after the last of its lots were sold. On April 2, 1896 another King, Henry King, Jr., filed a plan for his "Kingsville" subdivision. This subdivision was immediately north of William L.F. King's subdivision and had also originally been a part of the Wilson Farm. Kingsville was a 9-sided tract of land that fronted on the Brookeville Turnpike and ran about 920 feet south along the Turnpike from the southern property line of Grace Church. The tract ran about 2,150 feet to the east of the Turnpike at its deepest and was divided into lots that generally were 100 feet by 200 feet, or a little less than half an acre. Rather than following the contours of the land, Kingsville's streets were laid out either parallel or perpendicular to the Turnpike, much like the streets in Woodside, which faced Kingsville across the Turnpike. Parallel to the Turnpike were Grace Street, Caroline Avenue, King Street, and Mortimer Street. The only entrance into the subdivision was D Street. Kingsville's D Street was opposite D Street in Woodside (now Highland Drive) and extended about 2,000 feet perpendicular to the Turnpike. It would have ended in what eventually became the back yards of Woodside Park's 1309 and 1311 Pinecrest Court. Only one street was parallel to D Street in Kingsville, Milton Avenue, which, had it been extended through to the Turnpike, would have intersected it at the northern property line of Grace Church.
Except for approximately the first block of both C and D Streets east from the Turnpike, the streets of William L.F. King's subdivision and of Kingsville have no relationship to the street layout found today. None of the Kingsville lots were sold. Crosby S. Noyes bought Kingsville in 1899 and abandoned it as a subdivision. It became part of Alton Farm. In 1900 he bought the lots on the south side of C Street in William L.F. King's subdivision from their owner; he bought the Thompson property on the other side of the street in 1901. These areas were also abandoned as a subdivision and added to Alton Farm, as was another small plot facing Spring Street that he purchased in 1901.