Olney, Maryland

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Olney, Maryland
Census-designated place
The St. John's Episcopal Church in May 2013.
The St. John's Episcopal Church in May 2013.
Location of Olney, Maryland
Location of Olney, Maryland
Coordinates: 39°9′11″N 77°4′29″W / 39.15306°N 77.07472°W / 39.15306; -77.07472
Country  United States of America
State  Maryland
County Montgomery
 • Total 13.0 sq mi (33.7 km2)
 • Land 13.0 sq mi (33.6 km2)
 • Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation 541 ft (165 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 33,844
 • Density 2,603.4/sq mi (1,004.3/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 20830, 20832, 20833
Area code(s) 301
FIPS code 24-58900
GNIS feature ID 0590948
Website http://www.OlneyMD.com/

Olney, a census-designated place and an unincorporated area of Montgomery County, Maryland, U.S., is located in the north central part of the county, twenty miles (32 km) north of Washington, D.C. It was largely agricultural until the 1960s, when growth of the Washington suburbs led to its conversion into a mostly residential area. As generally defined, Olney had a total population of 33,844 in the 2010 U.S. Census. In July 2007, Money magazine ranked Olney as 17 (the highest ranked town in Maryland) out of the top 100 in its "America's Best Places To Live" edition. In August 2013, Olney appeared again as #22 in Money magazine's "Top-earning towns" edition of "America's Best Places to Live."


Soccer players at Freeman Fields in April 2005.
The Graham S. Little Natatorium in June 2011.

Originally known as Mechanicsville, the village which became Olney was established in 1800. The area was mostly farmland, but it soon began attracting artisans. Early residents Sarah Brooke and Dr. Charles Farquhar were devotees of the English poet William Cowper, and named their home after the poet's hometown. The area was in turn named for their home, which still stands and is known as the Olney House.

The Brooke family held the largest tracts of land in Olney, whose central village was at the intersection of the Rockville to Baltimore road, and the one which connected Washington with Westminster, Maryland, to the north. The Quaker community in Sandy Spring thrived just to Olney's east. The Sandy Spring Museum is a historical museum featuring educational programs and displays. St. John's Episcopal Church was established in 1842 and survives to this day.

After the siege of Washington by the British in 1814 during the War of 1812, President Madison and his family passed through Olney en route to taking refuge in the neighboring town of Brookeville. Although not as involved in the Civil War as areas of Maryland to the west, Olney residents still experienced the tug-of-war between loyalty to the plantation economy of the South and to the Federal government in Maryland's midst.


As an unincorporated area, Olney's boundaries are not officially defined. The United States Census Bureau defines a census-designated place of Olney centered at 39°9' North and 77°5' West. It has a total area of 13.0 square miles (34 km2), all land.

Olney's town center sits at the intersection of state route 97 (Georgia Avenue) and route 108 (Olney-Laytonsville Road). The town, larger than any other in the neighboring areas, lies south of Brookeville, west of Sandy Spring, east of Rockville and north of Aspen Hill.


At the 2010 U.S. Census,[1] there were 33,844 people, 11,606 households, and 9,447 families residing in the area. The population density is 2,603.4 people per square mile (1,004.3/km²). There are 11,879 housing units at an average density of 913.8 per square mile (352.5/km²). The ethnic makeup of the area is 75.1% White, 11.98% African American, 12.0% Asian, 8.5% Hispanic or Latino, and 0.48% Native American.

There are 11,606 households, of which 41.7% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 67.2% are married couples living together, 11.0% have a female householder with no husband present, and 18.6% are non-families. The average household size is 2.91 and the average family size is 3.25.

29.0% of residents are under the age of 20, 25.8% from 20 to 44, 34.3% from 45 to 64, and 10.8% 65 years of age or older. The median age is 42 years. For every 100 females there are 91.8 males.

According to a 2007 estimate,[2] the median household income is $116,319, and the median family income is $126,849. Males have a median income of $69,911 versus $45,818 for females. The per capita income for the area is $35,267. 2.6% of the population and 1.9% of families are below the poverty line.


Olney has various public and private schools, including at least five private elementary schools. Brooke Grove Elementary School, a public elementary school in Olney, was awarded the prestigious Blue Ribbon School for Excellence. There are three Montgomery County Public School clusters that bisect Olney, with some children attending elementary and middle schools that send students on to Magruder High School and others attending schools that send students to Sherwood High School or James Hubert Blake High School. The new Our Lady Of Good Counsel High School building opened in January 2007, enabling the Roman Catholic high school to relocate to Olney from Wheaton, Maryland. The new building of Washington Christian Academy recently opened in Olney, completing its long-term goal to relocate to the blossoming suburb.


Although largely a residential area, Olney maintains ties to its cultural past. The stately Olney Inn was destroyed by fire in March, 1978, but the historic Olney Ale House continues to operate on the east edge of town. Farther east lies the Sandy Spring Museum and Woodlawn Manor Living History Museum[3] where visitors may learn more about the area or visit historic Woodlawn Manor c 1800 for Tea & Tour. Olney is also home to Medstar Montgomery Medical Center, a branch of the Montgomery County Library, the Olney Swim Center, and the Norbeck golf course.

The Olney Theatre presents professional level dramatic and musical live theatrical productions in its large and modern playhouse on the East edge of town, drawing audiences from across the Maryland and D.C. metropolitan area.

Olney is also home to the Olney Big Band and Olney Concert Band. The Olney Concert Band is directed by Dr. Joel Frisch, a music faculty member at C. Milton Wright High School.[4]

Olney is the home to Rock N' Roll Revival which is an annual show and community tradition at Sherwood High School.


Playgrounds, playing fields and courts are available throughout Olney and the surrounding area. Many of the parks are public and some belong to homeowners or other private associations. Public parks include Olney Manor Park (featuring the Olney Swim Center, a year-round indoor public pool), Southeast Olney Park, Longwood Park, Cherrywood Park, Bowie Mill Park, and the OBGC Park at Freeman Fields.

Olney is also home to a private country club and a golf driving range.

Notable people[edit]

  • Olney is also the birthplace of Justin Maxwell, outfielder for the San Francisco Giants.


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°09′11″N 77°04′29″W / 39.153022°N 77.0747°W / 39.153022; -77.0747