The History of Crofton

The History of Crofton

In 1632, King Charles I granted the Maryland territory to Cecil Calvert, the Second Lord of Baltimore. Except for a period of 1689 to 1715, the five successive Lord Baltimores attempted to rule their Maryland Providence as a feudal estate. At first, land was granted to allies and friends of the Calverts. In 1683, the proprietor began to sell land for 200 pounds of tobacco per 100 acres. By 1776, land cost 5 pounds sterling per 100 acres.

The first European immigrants came to the Crofton area in the 1660's and 1670's. They found abundant wildlife, such as wolves, bobcats, deer, elk, bear, beaver, mink, squirrels, raccoons, a large variety of birds and fish, and other sea life. They also found themselves amidst a "great forest unlike anything seen in the British Isles." The first settlers cleared much of the forest land and depended almost entirely on the export of tobacco to England for their livelihood.

What is now Route 424 is considered the first true road in the Crofton area. It was originally known as Ridge Road and followed the ridge that separated the South River and the Patuxent River, linking up with the Londontown route in the south. For access to a newly developed road, the Jesuits at Whitemarsh Chapel built a bridge across the Patuxent. Their bridge, known as Priest's Bridge, connected the land they owned on both sides of the Patuxent River. This bridge was for their own use. With the introduction of automobiles and Crofton's strategic position between Washington, Baltimore, and Annapolis, the Crofton area became an important automobile junction. On July 16, 1927, Defense Highway (Route 450), named because it linked the Naval Academy in Annapolis with Washington, D.C., was dedicated in a ceremony with officials from the District of Columbia, Maryland and the Navy.

On November 1, 1772, a meeting was held marking the beginning of a school in the Crofton area. The school, Anne Arundel Free School, was located in the community of Lavall, about four miles east of Crofton. Crofton now has three elementary schools and a middle school within its bounds. Crofton also has four nursery schools, six churches, and an 18 hole championship golf course.

Crofton was developed as a private community in 1964 by the Crofton Corporation. Several years later, a group of residents established the Crofton Civic Association to promote civic awareness in the new community and to protect what had drawn them to Crofton in the first place. In 1969, the Anne Arundel County Council passed legislation to set up the Crofton Special Community Benefit District (CSCBD). It is comprised of the land roughly bounded by Routes 3, 424, and 450.

The CSCBD provides police protection, in addition to that provided by the County, maintenance of public areas and recreational facilities, and other services the community may propose, subject to the County Council's approval.

For further reading, see "From Sotweed to Suburbia: A History of the Crofton, Maryland Area, 1660s - 1960s" by Joseph L. Browne, at the local library.