Rodgers Forge, Maryland
Rodgers Forge Historic District
|Location||Roughly bounded by Stanmore Road, Stevenson Lane, York Road (Md. Route 45), Overbrook Road, and Bellona Avenue, north of Baltimore, Maryland|
|Area||150 acres (61 ha)|
|Architect||Beall, Frederick; James Keelty & Sons|
|Architectural style||Tudor Revival, Colonial Revival, Modern movement|
|NRHP Reference #||09000783|
|Added to NRHP||September 24, 2009|
Rodgers Forge is a national historic district located southwest of the unincorporated Towson area and county seat of Baltimore County, Maryland, just north of the Baltimore City/County line. It is mostly a residential area, with rowhouses, apartments, single-family dwellings, and a new complex of luxury garaged townhomes. The area also has a small amount of commercial development. It is located just south of Towson University. 21212 is the postal code for Rodgers Forge.
In 2004, Rodgers Forge gained international attention as the home of Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps. In 2013, Rodgers Forge was ranked by Baltimore Magazine as one of the top neighborhoods in Baltimore County. The magazine also named Rodgers Forge as one of the 10 "best-kept secret neighborhoods" in Baltimore metropolitan area for its "strong public schools, thriving community organizations, and easy access to shopping and entertainment in Baltimore and Towson." Rodgers Forge has also been consistently ranked as one of the safest Baltimore neighborhoods, according to the website and online database NeighborhoodScout.
Rodgers Forge takes its name from the blacksmith shop of George Rodgers, built in 1800, that was once located near the northwest corner of (the original "old") York Road and Stevenson Lane situated halfway to the junction of Osler Drive and Auburn Drive on the campus of Towson University. (Construction of Osler Drive - and St. Joseph's Hospital (now University of Maryland) - in the 1960s obliterated the last vestiges of the original site of the forge, and the remainder of formal gardens, laid out to the north.)
The assertion that the forge was located to the southeast, near the southeast corner of the current survey of York Road and Stevenson Lane, is contraindicated by the following:
- The existence of forge ruins as described above.
- In 1800s America, "roads" - more accurately, wagon paths - often followed flood plain parallel to water courses, as these sites were both flat and more easily cleared. The current survey of York Road is located "high and dry", away from wetlands. Common practice was to relocate wagon paths as necessary to accommodate heavier traffic and the need for more stable road foundation. However, it is likely that a forge for travelers' horses, wagons, and carriages, would have been situated at an early crossroads, down in the area of the floodplain.
- Smithing and casting operations required access to a freely available source of water, both for cooling red hot metal and fire suppression. Now filled in, up until the early 1960s, a steeply eroded but significant water course traversed the flood plain to the right of the current survey of Osler Drive, past a farm pond located on the present site of the main entrance and parking lot of St. Joseph's Hospital. The pond was "natural", located to the west of the Fitzgerald (F. Scott and Zelda) residence on La Paix Lane. It is unlikely that the original forge would have been located away from water at the top of a hill. In the 1950s, the water course "disappeared" under Stevenson Lane, through a conduit, located just under the northeast corner of Osler and Stevenson. Construction here destroyed - no doubt, what would now be considered one of America's "legacy" trees - a gigantic sycamore with girth over 20 feet, standing sentinel to the water course.
In 1934, builder James Keelty (Sr.) began work on the Rodgers Forge neighborhood, and constructed over 600 red brick rowhouses until World War II stopped development. After the war, work resumed under the direction of Keelty's two son's James Keelty Jr. and Joseph Keelty. 1,777 homes were completed by 1956. The latter phase of construction saw the removal of a large hill just to the north of Dunkirk Road (through Murdock and Regester), flattening out to the north much of the original Dumbarton Farm down to subsoil, to accommodate the new row homes and apartments. The lack of topsoil - a frequent complaint of would-be gardeners in the neighborhood - is accounted for by the removal of the hill. During World War II, the neighborhood's "Victory Gardens" had occupied much of what now comprises Murdock Road, to the north of Dunkirk.
Despite the population density of Rodgers Forge, until the early 1960s, just to the west, a small working farm of a few acres with livestock remained at the junction of Stevenson Lane and Bellona Avenue. Just to the north in the same time period, the then operating Northern Central Railroad crossed Bellona by trestle at Armagh Village, the track bordering Stanmore Road to the north; the current terminus of the N.C.R.R. trail being located at Ashland Road in Cockeysville, extending north to York, Pennsylvania. In the 1950s, from Bellona Avenue to Charles Street a large tract of farmland had extended, evolving to a retirement facility for a religious order of the Catholic Church in the 1960s, later sold for development.
In 2009, the entire neighborhood of Rodgers Forge was listed in National Register of Historic Places due to "its unique status as a well-preserved example of early to mid-20th Century community design and architecture." According to the official citation:
The Rodgers Forge Historic District is architecturally significant as a prototypical example of a type of suburban rowhouse development which characterized the region during the late 1920s through the mid-1950s, and is especially noteworthy for the quality of its planning, architecture, and construction... Rodgers Forge stands as the most architecturally accomplished of all of the Early American-style rowhouse neighborhoods built in the greater Baltimore area during these years.
- Charles Adam Fecher, author and editor who is best known for his works about Jacques Maritain and H.L. Mencken; longtime Rodgers Forge resident
- Charles Eberhart, Director of Neuropathology and Ophthalmic Pathology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Fitzgerald, American novelist couple who resided in Rodgers Forge during 1932-1933
- William J. Frank, member of the Maryland House of Delegates
- Mary Claire Helldorfer (Elizabeth Chandler), author of New York Times Best Seller Kissed by an Angel
- Ralph H. Hruban, professor of pathology and oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; a world-renowned expert in the field of pancreatic cancer pathology
- David H. Hubel, winner of 1981 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discoveries on information processing in the visual system; resident of Rodgers Forge in 1950s
- Kevin O'Malley, children's book writer
- Michael Phelps, American competition swimmer and the most decorated Olympian of all time
- Bayard Turnbull, architect - who lived at La Paix, a Rodgers Forge estate
- Johnny Unitas, football player; owner of former Golden Arm restaurant in Rodgers Forge
- Henry N. Wagner, one of the pioneering researchers in nuclear medicine
- Rodgers Forge Elementary School
- Dumbarton Middle School
- Students in Rodgers Forge are also zoned for nearby Towson High School.
- Dumbarton House, home of the Baltimore Actors Theatre Conservatory
- St. Pius X Catholic School
There are several state roads and other major thoroughfares that run through the Rodgers Forge area. These include:
- The History of Rodgers Forge
- Rodgers Forge Community Association
- Rodgers Forge on GoogleMaps
- Plat at the Maryland State Archives Legally Defining Blocks 1,2,3,4 of Rodgers Forge
- Rodgers Forge Historic District
- National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
- Jones, Katie (2012-06-28). "Towson Fourth: Rodgers Forge ready to bask in Fourth of July glow". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2015-07-15.
- Ruane, Michael (2004-04-18). "Swimming's Wonder Boy: Gifted Phelps Is Primed to Win Multiple Medals in Athens". Washington Post. Retrieved 2016-08-10 – via washingtonpost.com.
- Valkenburg, Kevin (2008-08-03). "Phelps' voyage: From Rodgers Forge to the brink of Beijing, the swimmer hasn't always been on cruise control". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2016-08-10 – via Baltimoresun.com.
- "Phelps, genèse d'un phénomène". Retrieved 2016-08-10.
- "Congressional Record". www.congress.gov. Retrieved 2016-08-01.
- Valkenburg, Kevin (2008-08-13). "Swimming in world records". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2016-08-01.
- http://www.washingtontimes.com, The Washington Times. "Towson welcomes home Michael Phelps". Retrieved 2016-08-01.
- "No secret now: Rodgers Forge earns top neighborhood honors [Rodgers Forge]". Baltimore Sun. 2013-07-31. Retrieved 2013-07-31.
- Iglehart, Ken; Favole, Johanna (April 2013). "10 Best-Kept Secret Neighborhoods". Baltimore (magazine). Retrieved 2016-05-22.
- "Baltimore MD crime rates and statistics - NeighborhoodScout". www.neighborhoodscout.com. Retrieved 2016-08-01.
- "Middle school matters". www.bcps.org. Retrieved 2016-08-10.
- Ward, Albert (2016). "DUMBARTON FARM AND MANSION (RODGERS FORGE )" (PDF). Historical Society of Baltimore County. hsobc.org. Retrieved 2016-08-10.
- "History". rodgersforge.org. Retrieved 2016-08-10.
- "The History of Rodgers Forge". Rodgers Forge Community Association. 2013. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
- Rasmussen, Frederick (Oct 6, 2007). "Baltimore Sun". Retrieved September 27, 2015.
- "Neighborhood Profile". Rodgers Forge Community Association. 2014. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
- Mary Ellen Hayward (October 2008). "National Register of Historic Places Registration: Rodgers Forge Historic District" (PDF). Maryland Historical Trust. Retrieved 2016-03-01.
- Smith, Dean (2008-11-20). "A Place to Forge Lasting Ties". Washington Examiner. Retrieved 2015-07-24.
- Rasmussen, Frederick (January 19, 2012). "Charles Adam Fecher Former Catholic Review book review editor wrote a book examining the influences that shaped H.L. Mencken's writing". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2015-07-15.
- H.L. Mencken (21 December 2011). My Life as Author and Editor. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. pp. 423–. ISBN 978-0-307-80888-2.
- Mary Jo Tate (1 January 2007). Critical Companion to F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Literary Reference to His Life and Work. Infobase Publishing. pp. 370–. ISBN 978-1-4381-0845-2.
- Dorie McCullough Lawson (13 April 2004). Posterity: Letters of Great Americans to Their Children. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. pp. 271–. ISBN 978-0-385-51263-3.
- Cowley, Malcolm (2014-09-24). "F. Scott Fitzgerald Thought This Book Would Be the Best American Novel Of His Time". New Republic. Retrieved 2016-08-10.
- Marion, Jane (December 2010). "There’s Something About Mary Claire". Baltimore Magazine. Retrieved 2015-09-27.
- "Best Sellers - The New York Times". www.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2015-09-27.
- David H. Hubel M.D. (1 October 2004). Brain and Visual Perception: The Story of a 25-Year Collaboration. Oxford University Press, USA. pp. 23–. ISBN 978-0-19-803916-7.
- "Dream home: Restored to glory". Retrieved 2016-08-01.
- Hope Hines (26 July 2012). In Hines' Sight: The Ups, Downs, and Rebounds of 40 Years in Sports Broadcasting. Franklin Green. pp. 101–. ISBN 978-1-936487-25-7.
- Henry N. Wagner (23 December 2007). A Personal History of Nuclear Medicine. Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN 978-1-84628-072-6.