From Farm Lane to Suburban Street, 1848 - 1947
Andrew Cummings (1915-2011), CCHS 1986 Oral History Interview.
The story of suburban development around the nation’s capital and other U.S. cities often begins with the developers who bought up farm land and sold house lots to eager buyers. Land developers and home buyers figure in the narrative for t his exibit, too, but we focus on the changes in the landscape of just one street, Cummings Lane, following its evolution from a small farm road to a suburban street. Once a simple right of way to a family farm, Cummings Lane became a residential street in Harry Martin’s "Third Addition to Chevy Chase" at the turn of the twentieth century. In 1947, Cummings Lane was extended through a new Montgomery County residential development, Chevy Chase Manor.
In 1865, a small roadway ran from the old "Brookeville and Tennallytown Road," today known as Brookville Road, to James and Patrick Cummings’ farm. The two brothers purchased their 100 acre farm in 1848 from one of the several landholders of the farmlands just beyond the Maryland-District of Columbia boundary. The access lane, known as Cummings Lane, ran through property that had once been part of the 300 acre “No Gain” plantation.
At the turn of the twentieth century, heirs of the "No Gain" property sold large parcels for new residential development, and one of these new subdivisions was developed by Harry Martin. The northern most street in Martin’s plat for his “Third Addition to Chevy Chase” was Cummings Lane, but perhaps because cedar trees ran along both sides of the lane, Martin named it Cedar Avenue on his 1905 plat map. The new name didn't stick with local residents, however, and it was soon changed back to Cummings Lane.
When the Cummings farmland north and east of Martin's Additions was sold and subdivided in the late 1940s, Cummings Lane was extended through the new development, named Chevy Chase Manor. Today Cummings Lane runs from Brookville Road all the way to the District of Columbia border at Western Avenue.
In this exhibit, we explore the history of Cummings Lane in six sections, beginning with a closer look at the Cummings family and their farm:
- The Cummings Family Farm.
- Mrs. Cumming's new house, Pleasant Grove, built in 1893.
- Andrew J. "Cy" Cummings, noted sportsman and politician.
- Harry M. Martin, the developer of Martin's Additions.
- The early suburban residents of Cummings Lane in Martin's Additions: the Orme family, the Teele family, and the Stone family.
- And the post-World War II development of Chevy Chase Manor, and the extension of Cummings Lane.
Click NEXT to advance to the section about the Cummings Family Farm. Or use the links on the upper left column to jump around the exhibit wherever your interest takes you!