Chevy Chase, Maryland
Chevy Chase (/ /) is the name of both a town and an unincorporated census-designated place (Chevy Chase (CDP), Maryland) that straddle the northwest border of Washington, D.C., and Montgomery County, Maryland, United States. Several settlements in the same area of Montgomery County and one neighborhood of Washington include Chevy Chase in their names. These villages, the town, and the CDP share a common history and together form a larger community colloquially referred to as Chevy Chase.
Primarily a residential suburb, Chevy Chase adjoins Friendship Heights, a popular shopping district. It is the home of the Chevy Chase Club and Columbia Country Club, private clubs whose members include many prominent politicians and Washingtonians.
Chevy Chase was noted as "the most educated town in America" in a study conducted by the Stanford Graduate School of Education, with 93.5 percent of adult residents having at least a bachelor's degree.
The name Chevy Chase is derived from Cheivy Chace, the name of the land patented to Colonel Joseph Belt from Charles Calvert, 5th Baron Baltimore, on July 10, 1725. It has historic associations with a 1388 chevauchée, a French word describing a border raid, fought by Lord Percy of England and Earl Douglas of Scotland over hunting grounds, or a "chace", in the Cheviot Hills of Northumberland and Otterburn. The battle was memorialized in "The Ballad of Chevy Chase".
In the 1880s, Senator Francis G. Newlands of Nevada and his partners began acquiring farmland in this unincorporated area of Maryland and just inside the District of Columbia, for the purpose of developing a residential streetcar suburb for Washington, D.C., during the expansion of the Washington streetcars system. Newlands and his partners founded The Chevy Chase Land Company in 1890, and its holdings of more than 1,700 acres (6.9 km2) eventually extended along the present-day Connecticut Avenue from Florida Avenue north to Jones Bridge Road.
Newlands, an avowed white supremacist, and his development company took steps to ensure that residents of its new suburbs would be wealthy and white; for example, "requiring, in the deed to the land, that only a single-family detached house costing a large amount of money could be constructed. The Chevy Chase Land Company did not include explicit bars against non-white people, known as racial covenants, but the mandated cost of the house made it impractical for all but the wealthiest non-white people to buy the land." Houses were required to cost $5,000 and up on Connecticut Avenue and $3,000 and up on side streets. The company banned commerce from the residential neighborhoods.
Leon E. Dessez was Chevy Chase's first resident. He and Lindley Johnson of Philadelphia designed the first four houses in the area.
Toward the northern end of its holdings, the Land Company formed a manmade lake, called Chevy Chase Lake, to produce hydroelectric power for its streetcars, and provide a venue for boating, swimming, and other activities. The streetcar soon became vital to the community; it connected workers to the city, and even ran errands for residents.
Part of the original Cheivy Chace patent had been sold to Abraham Bradley, who built an estate known as the Bradley Farm. In 1892, Newlands and other members of the Metropolitan Club of Washington, D.C., founded a hunt club called Chevy Chase Hunt, which would later become Chevy Chase Club. In 1894, the club located itself on the former Bradley Farm property under a lease from its owners. The club introduced a six-hole golf course to its members in 1895, and purchased the 9.36-acre Bradley Farm tract in 1897.
In 1906, the Chevy Chase Land Company blocked a proposed subdivision called Belmont after they learned its Black developers aimed to sell house lots to other African Americans. In subsequent litigation, the company and its affiliates argued that those developers had committed fraud by proposing "to sell lots...to negroes."
By the 1920s, restrictive covenants were added to Chevy Chase real estate deeds. Some prohibited both the sale or rental of homes to "a Negro or one of the African race." Others prohibited sales or rentals to "any persons of the Semetic [sic] race"—i.e., Jews.
By World War II, such restrictive language had largely disappeared from real estate transactions, and all were voided by the 1948 Supreme Court decision in Shelley v. Kraemer.
In 1964, Arthur Krock wrote an article for The New York Times alleging that the Chevy Chase Country Club barred "Negroes" and "one ethnic group of Caucasians" from membership. In response, Club president Randall H. Hagnar denied that the club excluded Black or Jewish people; he said that no members were African-Americans but that several were Jewish.
Lea M. Bouligny founded the Chevy Chase College and Seminary for Young Ladies at the Chevy Chase Inn, located at 7100 Connecticut Avenue). The name was changed to Chevy Chase Junior College in 1927. The National 4-H Club Foundation purchased the property in 1951, turning it into the group's Youth Conference Center. For decades, the center hosted the National 4-H Conference, an event for 4-Hers throughout the nation to attend, and the annual National Science Bowl in late April or early May.
The National 4-H Club Foundation sold the center in 2021 for $40 million; as of 2022, it is to be replaced by a senior living development.
In addition to the Maryland villages listed above, the United States Postal Service uses Chevy Chase for some postal addresses that lie outside historical Chevy Chase: in Somerset, the Village of Friendship Heights, and the Rock Creek Forest area, east of Jones Mill Road and Beach Drive and west of Grubb Road.
Chevy Chase is served by the Montgomery County Public Schools. Residents of Chevy Chase are zoned to Somerset, Chevy Chase or North Chevy Chase Elementary School, which feed into Silver Creek Middle School, Westland Middle School and Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. Private schools in Chevy Chase include Concord Hill School, Oneness-Family School, and Blessed Sacrament School.
Rochambeau French International School formerly had a campus in Chevy Chase.
For decades, a six-block stretch of Wisconsin Avenue in Friendship Heights and Chevy Chase contained the only concentration of traditional department stores at least partially in Washington, D.C. Two of these closed in 2020: the Lord & Taylor and Neiman Marcus stores, both of which were in D.C. As of 2022, two department stores remain, both on the Maryland side: a freestanding Saks Fifth Avenue and a Bloomingdale's in Wisconsin Place, which also includes a Whole Foods Market, boutiques, and residential and office space.
The D.C. portion of the stretch includes these shopping centers:
On the Maryland side is The Collection at Chevy Chase, an upscale center that includes a Tiffany & Co. location.