Harper's Choice, Columbia, Maryland

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Harper's Choice
Country United States
State Maryland
City Columbia
Established 1967[1]
Named for Robert Harper Goodloe Carroll[2]
Villages of Columbia
Sign for "Hobbit's Glen" development in Harper's Choice

Harper's Choice is one of the ten villages that comprise Columbia, Maryland. It lies in the northwest part of Columbia and consists of the neighborhoods of Longfellow, Swansfield, and Hobbit's Glen and had a December 1998 population of 8,695.

Home sites were sold by Howard Research and Development (Rouse) to larger homebuilders. Levitt & Sons, known for building Levittown, New York bought land for over 600 units, but halted construction in 1970 at 151 homes due to code violations.[3] In 1971, Harper's Choice Village Center opened with housing above shops.[4] In 1978, the village suffered from a string of arson attacks, including 26 in a two day period from a local resident.[5] By the 1990s, the village center shops were in decline with little investment from the Rouse Company.[6] In 2004, MS-13 gang activity was reported in the neighborhood.[7]

Harper's Choice is named for Harper Goodloe Carroll, A South Carolina representative who relocated to Baltimore to practice law, served in the war of 1812, Maryland State Senate, and United States Senate. He lived on Oakland Manor, where he was buried, and his grave was moved to Baltimore to make way for the Columbia development. The majority of Harpers Choice is built on the original Carroll slave plantation tract Doughoregan Manor.[8] The Harper family farm "Jericho" was built on a portion of the estate, and sold by the Harper family between 1962 and 1964 to the Rouse Company before the announcement of the Columbia project. Clarence Bassler sold 63 acres of his farm in 1963, with George Bassler selling 140 the next year, retaining land for the Harper's Choice Village Center.[9]

The Longfellow community was named for the American poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and the street names are from his works. Hobbit's Glen was taken from the works of English author J. R. R. Tolkien, along with the street names. Swansfield's name was inspired by the etching The Swan by James McNeill Whistler, and the street names derive from the works of Winslow Homer.[10][11]


The Harper's Choice Village Center has a grocery store, banks, restaurants, and other retail establishments.[12] The community center, Kahler Hall, was named in 1971 for the William C. Kahler family, who sold a portion of their farm in November 1962 followed later by the remaining 280 acres.[10] The original name for the village center was "Joseph Square", named for John Joseph, chairperson of the first Harper's Choice Village Board.[11]

The Florence Bain Senior Center, opened in 1983, is located in the Swansfield neighborhood, and is named for Florence Bain, who started the local AARP chapter and was the first chairperson of Howard County's Commission on Aging.[11] Winter Growth/Ruth Keeton House, offering an assisted living program, is located next to the Senior Center. It is named for the former council member, Ruth Keeton.[13]

Athletic facilities[edit]

The Athletic Club, one of Columbia's three athletic facilities, is located in Swansfield.[14] An 18-hole par 72 golf course is located in Hobbit's Glen, which also includes tennis courts and a pool. Originally named "Jericho", the Harper family requested Rouse not to use the name of their family farm.[15][16] The Columbia SportsPark, an 18-hole miniature golf course, batting cages, and skate park is located in the Harper's Choice village center.[17][18]

An extensive walking/biking trail connects the neighborhoods.[19]


  1. ^ http://envisionharperschoice.blogspot.com/p/history-of-harpers-choice.html
  2. ^ http://harperschoicecommunityassociation.org/?page_id=5
  3. ^ Ellen Hoffman (February 26, 1970). "Levitt Construction Is Halted At Columbia Over Violations: 128 Residents". The Washington Post. 
  4. ^ Ann Forsyth. Reforming Suburbia: The Planned Communities of Irvine, Columbia. 
  5. ^ Jackson Diehl (December 31, 1978). "Man Charged in Columbia Fires". The Washington Post. 
  6. ^ Joseph R. Mitchell, David Stebenne. New City Upon a Hill: A History of Columbia, Maryland. p. 146. 
  7. ^ Gangs and Crime in Latin America. p. 56. 
  8. ^ Barbara Feaga. Howard's Roads to the Past. p. 61. 
  9. ^ Missy Burke, Robin Emrich, Barbara Kellner. Oh, You must live in Columbia. p. 29. 
  10. ^ a b "Harper's Choice", harperschoice.columbiavillages.org, accessed May 29, 2009
  11. ^ a b c Kellner, Barbara"How the Streets of Harper's Choice were Named", columbiamaryland.com/sharp.htm, accessed May 29, 2009
  12. ^ "Harper's Choice Village Center Directory", columbiavillagecenters.com, accessed May 29, 2009
  13. ^ "Winter Growth", wintergrowth.com, accessed May 29, 2009
  14. ^ "Athletic Club", columbiaassociation.net, accessed May 29, 2009
  15. ^ Missy Burke, Robin Emrich, Barbara Kellner. Oh, You must live in Columbia. p. 32. 
  16. ^ "Golf Club", hobbitsglengolfclub.com, accessed May 29, 2009
  17. ^ "Sports Park", columbiasportspark.org, accessed May 29, 2009
  18. ^ "Activities Guide", columbiaassociation.org, accessed May 29, 2009
  19. ^ "Trail Map", harperschoice.columbiavillages.org, accessed May 29, 2009

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°13′21″N 76°53′18″W / 39.22250°N 76.88833°W / 39.22250; -76.88833