Wilde Lake, Columbia, Maryland

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Wilde Lake
Country United States
State Maryland
City Columbia
Established 1967[1]
Named for Frazier B. Wilde
Wilde Lake
Villages of Columbia

Wilde Lake is a man-made drainage reservoir dug in 1966 and also the name of the surrounding neighborhood, or "village", located in Columbia, Maryland, just north and west of the Columbia Town Center.[2] The village was the first portion of the "New Town" of Columbia to be built during the late 1960s, James W. Rouse and Frazar B. Wilde formally opened the neighborhood on 21 June 1967.[3][4] The lake and village are named for Frazar B. Wilde, a past chairman of the board of Connecticut General Life Insurance Company and former employer of James Rouse.[5] In 1963, the company agreed to fund the secret land purchases and, in return, acquired an equity participation. This arrangement was subsequently formalized by the creation of The Howard Research and Development Corporation, the joint venture established to develop Columbia.[4]

Wilde Lake[edit]

Wilde Lake collects storm water runoff from 1140 acres, with a maximum capacity of 48,200,000 gallons. Rouse executive Mort Hoppenfield designed the 27-foot tall, 200-foot wide dam across the Patuxent River branch which flooded the fields between the historic stone buildings of Oakland Manor and the pre-colonial Old Oakland manor.[6] In 1969, Spiro Agnew proclaimed the arrival of the first Columbia-based scientific firm, Hittman Associates, who relocated for favorable lease rates from Howard Research and Development.[6][7] Hittman in turn was contracted by the EPA, recommending Wilde Lake reuse storm water runoff from the reservoir for Columbia resident's drinking water to save on development costs.[8]


As the planned community of Columbia reached its design capacity and development opportunities lessened, its developer sought to increase the population density of existing land in order to make a profitable revitalization of Columbia's aging infrastructure. Kimco Realty Corporation, the current owner of the village center, proposed a controversial redevelopment plan in 2008, that would have torn down buildings and built a large number of apartments in a mixed-use project.[9] A Kimco executive declared that plan to be "null and void" at a June 1, 2009 meeting. The vice-president of Acquisitions and Development said: "I have no idea what the concept is [now]."[10] In 2013, Kimco broke ground on a $17,000,000 project, demolishing the community grocery store, and adding 250 multi-story garage apartments and 30,000 sq ft of office space.[11]


Neighborhoods in the Village of Wilde Lake were built around the Oakland Manor, a former slave plantation. Some historical buildings were raised for the development, but other stone outbuildings dating to the 1700s still stand in the community. Early citizens of the new Cove development fought Rouse land-clearing operations in 1969 and lost as Rouse Company representatives were appointed to the first Columbia Association positions. Over time, a new association seat opened for every 4000 residents.[12] The various neighborhoods include: Columbia's oldest apartments built in 1967, Bryant Woods (named for William Cullen Bryant); Faulkner Ridge (named for William Faulkner); Running Brook (where the streets are named for Robert Frost's poems and Aesop's Fables, e.g. The Birches).[5]


The village center is located in the Wilde Lake Village Green, and has a small grocery store, various restaurants, and other retail establishments.[13] The Wilde Lake Community Center, called Slayton House, was named for John Slayton, first manager of the Columbia Association.[5]

The Wilde Lake Interfaith Center is located in the village center.[14]


Wilde Lake High School, alma mater of actor (and grandson of Columbia founder James W. Rouse) Edward Norton,[4][15][16] is located in the Village of Wilde Lake. Wilde Lake High School was the first high school to open in Columbia in 1971. It was the "first in the country to use individual study 'learning activities packages' for self-paced learning."[17]

The school has 3 stories with skylights, and open hallways that overlook a central hallway nicknamed "Main Street." It is home to The Jim Rouse Theater, which houses performing arts performances for both the school's programs and for organizations throughout Columbia. The school is well known for its performing arts program.[18][19]

The original high school was demolished in 1994 and a new one constructed in time for the 1996–1997 academic year.[18] The former design was oval and two stories, with a windowless doughnut layout with classroom clusters,[19] and a media center located in the center and accessible from the second level. Other schools in the Village of Wilde Lake include Bryant Woods, Running Brook, and Faulkner Ridge elementary schools, and Wilde Lake Middle School.[20]


The Columbia Swim Center, which contains three indoor pools and a water slide called "Splashdown," is located in the village center.[21] There are also outdoor pools in each neighborhood.[22]

The walking path around the 22-acre (89,000 m2) lake is 1.46 miles (2.35 km) long.[23]


  1. ^ http://www.owenbrownvillage.org/about.html
  2. ^ "Map", columbiavillages.org, accessed May 29, 2009
  3. ^ "Columbia's first 25 years: a chronology". Baltimore Sun. 14 June 1992. 
  4. ^ a b c Mitchell, pp. 58, 79-81, 151
  5. ^ a b c "The Neighborhoods of Wilde Lake", columbiamaryland.com, accessed May 29, 2009
  6. ^ a b Barbara Kellner. Columbia. p. 95. 
  7. ^ Kevin Thomas (14 June 1992). "Firms and profits flourished on Columbia's fertile ground". The Baltimore Sun. 
  8. ^ Office of research and Monitoring, Environmental Protection Agency (January 1973). The Beneficial use of Stormwater. 
  9. ^ Simmonsen, Derek. "Council to take up village center redevelopment;Wilde Lake changes at heart of controversy", Columbia Flier, May 22, 2009
  10. ^ Simmonsen, Derek, "Kimco holds off on Wilde Lake plans", Columbia Flier, week of June 4, 2009, pp. 1,4
  11. ^ "Kimco Breaks Ground for Wilde Lake Village Center Redevelopment". The Business Monthly. 3 June 2013. 
  12. ^ Ellen Hoffman (September 26, 1969). "New Towners The Voiceless Marylanders; Columbia Citizens Seeking More Say". The Washington Post. 
  13. ^ "Wilde Lake Store Directory", columbiavillagecenters.com, accessed May 29, 2009
  14. ^ Forsyth, Ann. Reforming suburbia (2005), University of California Press, ISBN 0-520-24166-5, p. 156
  15. ^ Fuller, Graham. "Edward Norton interview", Best Life, ISSN 1548-212X, Vol. 3, No. 4, May 2006
  16. ^ Sleeman, Elizabeth, Taylor & Francis Group, Europa Publications, Europa Publications Limited. The International Who's Who 2004 (2003, 67 Ed.), Routledge, ISBN 1-85743-217-7, p. 1232
  17. ^ Forsyth, Ann. Reforming suburbia:the planned communities of Irvine, Columbia, and The Woodlands (2005), University of California Press, ISBN 0-520-24166-5 p.157
  18. ^ a b "Wilde Lake High School Profile, 2008-2009", www.hcpss.org, accessed May 29, 2009
  19. ^ a b Wexler, Kathryn. "New Beginning For Old School; Rebuilt Wilde Lake Opens to Raves", The Washington Post, August 29, 1996, WEEKLY – MD; Pg. M01
  20. ^ "Wilde Lake Schools", www.wildelakecommunityassociation.org, accessed May 29, 2009
  21. ^ "Columbia Swim Center/Splashdown", www.columbiaassociation.org, May 29, 2009
  22. ^ "Outdoor Pools", columbiaassociation.net, accessed May 30, 2009
  23. ^ "Lakes of Columbia", columbiamaryland.com, accessed May 29, 2009


  • Mitchell, Joseph Rocco and Stebenne, David. New City Upon a Hill:A History of Columbia, Maryland (2007), The History Press, ISBN 1-59629-067-6

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°13′32″N 76°51′59″W / 39.22556°N 76.86639°W / 39.22556; -76.86639