Kemp Mill, Maryland
Brookside Gardens in Kemp Mill
Brookside Gardens in Kemp Mill
Location of Kemp Mill, Maryland
Location of Kemp Mill, Maryland
Coordinates: 39°02′29″N 77°01′17″W / 39.04139°N 77.02139°W / 39.04139; -77.02139
Country United States
State Maryland
County Montgomery
 • Total2.53 sq mi (6.57 km2)
 • Land2.51 sq mi (6.50 km2)
 • Water0.03 sq mi (0.07 km2)
Elevation351 ft (107 m)
 • Total13,378
 • Density5,332.00/sq mi (2,058.36/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
FIPS code24-43200
GNIS feature ID2389992[2]

Kemp Mill is a census-designated place and an unincorporated census area in Montgomery County, Maryland, United States. The population was 13,378 at the 2020 census.[3] It is known for it’s calm suburban atmosphere, Brookside Gardens, and numerous hiking trails, and is home to the largest Orthodox Jewish community on the East Coast between Baltimore and Miami.[4] It is commonly referred to by American Jews as “the shtetl”.[5]

Kemp Mill census area consists of multiple subdivisions, including Kemp Mill Estates, Kemp Mill Farms, Kemp Mill Forest, and Springbrook Forest.


Early history

Prior to the arrival of European settlers, the area that is now Kemp Mill was inhabited by Indigenous peoples, including the Piscataway and the Nacotchtank. [6]

Captain John Smith of the English settlement at Jamestown was probably the first European to explore the area, during his travels along the Potomac River and throughout the Chesapeake region.[7]

Historically, Kemp Mill was named for a mill that operated in the area continuously from 1745 to 1920.[8] In the 1790s, a Quaker named Evan Thomas developed a small community near the mill. In the 1830s, a small settlement called Claysville sprang up around the mill. The settlement was renamed Kemp Mill in 1857 when George Kemp purchased the mill from Francis Valdenar, and the Kemp family managed the mill until 1905. The mill eventually burned down in 1919.[9]

Civil war

In July of 1864, during the Civil War, Silver Spring, Maryland (including Kemp Mill) experienced a significant incursion by Confederate forces. As General Jubal Early's troops spread across the fields and orchards, reactions among the residents varied, with some cheering, and others fleeing to the capital. The Confederate soldiers ransacked properties, including the estate of Montgomery Blair, Lincoln's postmaster general, which they set ablaze. Additionally, Early used the home of Blair's father as his headquarters to coordinate an assault on Washington's defenses.[10]

20th century

The first subdivisions in the greater Kemp Mill area broke ground in 1931.[11] During this era, historical Washington suburbs were known for being sundown towns, including Silver Spring.[12] Prior to the Second World War, racial covenants were used in Washington, D.C. and Silver Spring to exclude African Americans, Jews, and others.[13][14][15] In 1948, the Supreme Court Shelley v Kraemer decision rendered racial covenants legally unenforceable, but African Americans, Jews, and others in the Washington metropolitan area continued to be excluded under the covenants until the passage of the Fair Housing Act of 1968.[6][16]

Kemp Mill Farms and Kemp Mill Estates were first developed in the late 1950s,[17] approximately a decade after the 1948 Supreme Court Shelley v Kraemer decision. The neighborhood was among several communities in Montgomery County's Silver Spring area that were built by Jewish real estate developers catering to Jews moving to the suburbs from Washington, D.C.[18] The majority of residences in Kemp Mill are single family homes dating to the 1950s, although newer homes were built in the 1980s and 1990s on Yeatman, Bromley, and Kersey roads.[19]

Kemp Mill Estates was developed by Jack Kay and Harold Greenberg of the Kay Construction Company, the son and son-in-law of real estate developer Abraham S. Kay.[20] At the time of its development, it was located outside of an area of Silver Spring that had been historically closed to Jews. [21] According to the historian David Rotenstein, some Jewish developers in Silver Spring, including the Kays, used anti-Black covenants prior to the Fair Housing Act of 1968. As he said, “to be sure, Jews were barred from many places, too, but our shared Judaism doesn’t immunize us from racism.” However, Rotenstein acknowledged that some Jewish developers also built integrated housing. For example, Morris Milgram began purchasing existing apartments in Silver Spring and integrating them during the early and mid-1960s, and Jewish organizations such as Jews for Urban Justice formed to protest alongside civil rights groups, advocating for equal access to housing.[22]

In the late 1970s, the average price of a home in Kemp Mill was between $85,000 and $90,000. In 1978, a black DC school official living in Kemp Mill was the target of a hate crime when the N-word and "KKK" were painted on her house and her tires were slashed.[23]

Orthodox Jews began moving to Kemp Mill in 1961, when the Young Israel Shomrai Emunah synagogue relocated from Washington, D.C.[24] In 1989, 25% of the 2,000 families in Kemp Mill were Orthodox Jews.[25] A 2005 Washington Post article stated that half of the community's 10,000 residents were Orthodox Jews.[24]

In September 1989, there was a spate of antisemitic incidents rumored to be due to "skinheads". Swastikas were painted on several vehicles, 40 cars had their windows shot in with BB guns, and the graffiti "All Jews Must Die Now" was painted on a sidewalk. These antisemitic incidents occurred a few months after a young Asian man was beaten in nearby Sligo Creek Park by a group of youths and young adults shouting anti-Asian racial slurs. A community meeting was held and the local police claimed that "youths" were to blame for the antisemitic incidents and that there were no organized neo-Nazis or skinheads in the region. However, a man living in Kemp Mill had recently been convicted for vandalism of the Kemp Mill Urban Park, an act the police claimed was inspired by the 1988 film Betrayed, which follows the actions of a white supremacist organization.[25]

21st century

During the summer of 2020, multiple Black Lives Matter rallies were held at Northwood High School in Kemp Mill to protest against racism and police brutality.[26] A 2020 statement of solidarity with African Americans issued by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington was signed by Kemp Mill Synagogue.[27]

In June 2022, shortly before the Shavuot holiday, antisemitic fliers advertising neo-Nazi websites were placed at several locations in Kemp Mill, including at a bus shelter located in front of the Young Israel Shomrai Emunah synagogue and on an ice chest outside of the Shalom Kosher grocery store. The fliers used antisemitic slurs, denied the Holocaust, and called for genocide against the Jewish People.[28][29][30]

Following the Simchat Torah Massacre in Israel on October 7, 2023, a notable increase in anti-Semitic vandalism was seen in Kemp Mill and the surrounding areas. In response, Montgomery County police announced on October 9, 2023 that they were stepping up patrols around synagogues and Jewish schools in the county.[31]


As an unincorporated area, Kemp Mill does not have officially defined boundaries. However, Kemp Mill is recognized by the United States Census Bureau and by the United States Geological Survey as a census-designated place.[32]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the neighborhood has a total area of 2.54 square miles (6.2 km2), all land.

Kemp Mill is considered by many of its residents, particularly those members of the Orthodox Jewish community, to be part of unincorporated Silver Spring.[33] It is served by the Wheaton Post Office.

There is a very large eruv that encompasses Kemp Mill and the other Jewish communities of Silver Spring.[34]


Kemp Mill is home to the largest Orthodox Jewish community on the East Coast between Baltimore and Miami.[35] It hosts a number of synagogues serving Orthodox Jews (Modern Orthodox, Hasidic, and Yeshivish) including Young Israel Shomrai Emunah, Silver Spring Jewish Center, Kemp Mill Synagogue, the Yeshiva of Greater Washington, Chabad of Silver Spring, Kehillas Ohr Hatorah and Minchas Yitzhak. Additionally, there are many smaller Orthodox Jewish minyanim (prayer groups) throughout the neighborhood including a Sephardic Minyan that meets at Shomrai Emunah and the Lower Lamberton Minyan.

Kemp Mill Synagogue
Young Israel Shomrai Emunah
The Yeshiva of Greater Washington

There are also many in the area who are served by Conservative synagogues, such as Har Tzeon Agudath Achim, and other branches of Judaism.

Several Jewish schools are located in Kemp Mill including the boys division of the Yeshiva of Greater Washington, the Silver Spring Learning Center, and the Jewish Montessori School. Three public schools are also situated in the area, including Northwood High School, Odessa Shannon Middle School (Renamed from Colonel E. Brooke Lee Middle School in July 2021), and Kemp Mill Elementary School. The former Spring Mill Elementary school is now the Yeshiva Middle School and an administrative office.[36]

Silver Spring Learning Center
Entrance to Northwood High School

Kemp Mill Shopping Center is the commerce hub of the neighborhood. The shopping center was long anchored by Giant Food, which operated there until September 27, 2007. On November 7, 2007, Magruder's, a local grocery chain, opened in its place but closed in July 2012 when Shalom Kosher purchased it. Shalom Kosher opened on October 31, 2012. Besides Shalom Kosher, the Kemp Mill Center includes Kemp Mill Beer & Wine, MVA - Kemp Mill, Holy Chow!, Nova Europa, Moneygram, SunTrust, Cartronics ATM, Kemp Mill Dry Cleaners, U-Haul Neighborhood Dealer, Kemp Mill Optical, CVS Pharmacy, Ben Yehuda Cafe and Pizzeria, and The Kosher Pastry Oven.[37]

Shalom Kosher, a grocery store in Kemp Mill
The Kosher Pastry Oven in Kemp Mill Shopping Center

A Kemp Mill Village is being formed to serve the needs of elderly and disabled residents. Montgomery County has established the position of Village Coordinator to assist communities with establishing villages.


The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission's Kemp Mill Recreation Center offers users a baseball diamond, basketball and tennis courts, an indoor ice-skating rink, a meeting space, and a playground. Sligo Creek rises in Kemp Mill, and the hiker-biker trail that runs alongside the creek from Wheaton Regional Park to the Anacostia River passes through the community. The eastern end of Kemp Mill is bounded by the Northwest Branch, which also flows south to the Anacostia and is a popular hiking trail to Route 29 Colesville Road or Brookside Gardens.

Northwest Branch

Deer are a frequent sight in the neighborhood, along with red foxes and raccoons. Numerous bird species nest in the CDP and along the Northwest Branch, including red-shouldered hawks, owls, northern cardinals, blue jays, black rails (endangered), american robins, northern mockingbirds, sedge wrens (endangered), baltimore orioles, mourning warblers (endangered), gray catbirds, carolina chickadees, carolina wrens, white-breasted nuthatches, swainson’s warblers (endangered), tufted titmuoses, loggerhead shrikes (endangered), and northern flickers. American crows and turkey vultures are also present.

Northern Cardinal in Kemp Mill

Kemp Mill Urban Park, centrally located on Arcola Avenue, provides a meeting place and playground. The park was closed in February 2016 for renovations and reopened in May 2017.

Kemp Mill Urban Park

Two private swimming pools, Parkland Pool and Kemp Mill Swim Club, serve the community.


Kemp Mill is serviced by Ride On bus numbers 8, 9 and during rush hours, number 31, as well as Metrobus numbers C2 and C4. Washington Metro service on the Red Line is also available in nearby Wheaton and Silver Spring.


Montgomery County Public Schools operates public schools.

Kemp Mill Elementary School, Odessa Shannon Middle School and Northwood High School are all within the Kemp Mill CDP.[38]


Historical population

2020 Census

As of the 2020 United States Census,[41] there were 13,378 persons residing in the area. Persons under 18 years of age made up 24.9% of the area, while those over 65 years of age accounted for 16.1%. The population density was 5,332 inhabitants per square mile. The racial makeup of the area was 59.5% White, 18.1% Black, 8.3% Asian, and 1.3% American Indian. Hispanics and Latinos of any race were 13.5% of the population. Non-Hispanic Whites were 55.1% of the population. Foreign-born persons accounted for 27.1% of the population, and 34.8% spoke a language other than English at home, including Russian, Ukrainian, Hebrew, Yiddish, and Spanish.

In 2020, there were 4,713 households, of which 83.7% was owner-occupied. The median value of owner-occupied housing units was $518,100. Median household income in the CDP was $151,943 and per capita income was $60,348. 69.6% of the population aged 16 or older was in the civilian labor force. The poverty level was 6.9% of the population.

Kemp Mill is a highly-educated community, with 92.5% of the population having a high-school diploma or higher and 60.2% holding a bachelor's degree or higher.

2010 Census

As of the 2010 United States Census,[42] there were 12,564 people and 4,430 households residing in the area. The population density was 4,952.3 inhabitants per square mile (1,912.1/km2). The racial makeup of the area was 61.7% White, 19.5% African American, 1% Native American, 5% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, and 3.7% of mixed race. Hispanics and Latinos of any race were 18.6% of the population. Non-Hispanic whites were 54.8% of the population.

There were 3,386 households, out of which 33.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 65.3% were married couples living together, 9.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 21.6% were non-families. 17.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.89 and the average family size was 3.22. Twenty-seven percent of Kemp Mill residents hold a graduate degree.

In the area, the population was spread out, with 25.1% under the age of 18, 5.6% from 18 to 24, 25.9% from 25 to 44, 24.7% from 45 to 64, and 18.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.5 males.

The median income for a household in the CDP was $89,294, and the median income for a family was $111,985. Males had a median income of $52,244 versus $41,285 for females. The per capita income for the area was $34,570. About 2.3% of families and 4.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.6% of those under age 18 and 1.7% of those age 65 or over.

A large number of Russian-Jewish immigrants have settled in Kemp Mill, particularly since the 1980s.[43] Due to the large Ethiopian and Jewish populations in Silver Spring and Washington, D.C.,[44] Kemp Mill is home to a sizeable community of Beta Israel (Ethiopian Jews).

Notable people


  1. ^ "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved April 26, 2022.
  2. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Kemp Mill, Maryland
  3. ^ a b "QuickFacts: Kemp Mill CDP, Maryland". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 17, 2021.
  4. ^ "Tightly knit Kemp Mill". The Washington Examiner. May 26, 2009. Retrieved July 5, 2018.
  5. ^ [1], Kemp Mill Synagogue Gala Banquet 2020
  6. ^ a b "University Boulevard Corridor Plan" (PDF). Montgomery Planning. Retrieved June 12, 2024.
  7. ^
  8. ^ "". ((cite web)): External link in |title= (help)
  9. ^ [2], The Historical Marker Database
  10. ^ Available Now - Silver Spring and the Civil War - Maryland's Digital Library - OverDrive, retrieved June 20, 2024
  11. ^ "". ((cite web)): External link in |title= (help)
  12. ^ "protesting-invisibility-in-silver-spring-maryland". June 26, 2023.
  13. ^ [3], Washington Post
  14. ^ "Exodus: Why DC's Jewish community left the central corridors, then came back". Greater Greater Washington. Retrieved June 17, 2024.
  15. ^ [4], Jewish Virtual Library
  16. ^ [5], MOCO 360
  17. ^ ""Jack Kay, 87, D.C. area home builder and philanthropist"". The Washington Post. April 24, 2014.
  18. ^ "Exodus: Why DC's Jewish community left the central corridors, then came back". Greater Greater Washington. Retrieved September 9, 2021.
  19. ^ "'50s flashback: Kemp Mill houses have artifacts within their walls". July 7, 2021.
  20. ^ "Jack Kay, 87, D.C. area home builder and philanthropist". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 9, 2021.
  21. ^ "Downtown Silver Spring: Inclusivity Examined since 1940". December 3, 2019.
  22. ^ "Silver Spring's Jewish history 'long and complicated'". Washington Jewish Week. Archived from the original on August 25, 2018. Retrieved June 20, 2024.
  23. ^ "Racial Epithets Painted Upon Officials' House". Washington Post. Retrieved September 11, 2021.
  24. ^ a b Rathner, Janet (October 14, 2005). "An Orthodox Destination". Washington Post. Retrieved April 20, 2024.
  25. ^ a b "Hatred Intrudes on Community". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 11, 2021.
  26. ^ "Hundreds gather at Northwood High for peaceful protest of police brutality". Bethesda Magazine. June 4, 2020. Retrieved September 11, 2021.
  27. ^ "Solidarity Statement Sign On". Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington. Retrieved June 12, 2024.
  28. ^ "Antisemitic flyers discovered at bus stop in Kemp Mill". Bethesda Magazine. Retrieved May 3, 2022.
  29. ^ "Swastika flier found at bus stop across from Maryland synagogue". Jewish News Syndicate. June 2, 2022.
  30. ^ "Swastika Posted at Bus Stop by Silver Spring Synagogue". Montgomery County Media. Retrieved May 3, 2022.
  31. ^ [ABC 7 News], [[6]]
  32. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  33. ^ "Jewish Silver Spring". Retrieved June 6, 2016.
  34. ^ [Kemp Mill Synagogue], [[7]]
  35. ^ "Tightly knit Kemp Mill". The Washington Examiner. May 26, 2009. Retrieved July 5, 2018.
  36. ^ [8], Yeshiva of Greater Washington
  37. ^ [9], Blank Kim Injury Law
  38. ^ "2010 CENSUS - CENSUS BLOCK MAP: Kemp Mill CDP, MD" (Archive). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on June 22, 2015.
  39. ^ "CENSUS OF POPULATION AND HOUSING (1790-2000)". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved July 17, 2010.
  40. ^ Community not enumerated separately in 1980 & 1990. Kemp Mill was part of Silver Spring's census area.
  41. ^ "QuickFacts Kemp Mill CDP, Maryland".
  42. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  43. ^ "Silver Spring: Home of Ethnic Diversity". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 11, 2019.
  44. ^ "Ethiopian Jews Find a Home in Northwest". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 11, 2019.