Club Minutes: The Home Interest Society, 1931

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by Clarence Hussey

What will Sandy Spring Neighborhood be in 1950? How will it compare with our community of today? Situated as we are midway between two great and rapidly growing cities, changes of vital importance are inevitable. Some of these changes can be forecast with accuracy. We know that our population will increase, that land values and taxes will rise, that general farming as a means of livelihood will decline in importance, that improved highways and transportation facilities will bring Washington and Baltimore with their city problems, closer to our doors. These changes are beyond our control. If they take place gradually in accordance with the normal growth in population we shall be able to adjust ourselves to them without loss or discomfort. In fact, we will realize certain material benefits.

In what I shall say tonight, I shall endeavor to assume the view-point of a life long resident rather than that of a comparatively newcomer. That I find this easy to do, is proof to me that Sandy Spring Neighborhood has exceptional powers of assimilation. The prevailing spirit of cordial welcome and good fellowship quickly transforms the new arrival into an old inhabitant.

A community is merely an aggregation of individuals. Its character is a composite picture of the character of its individual members, and as reputation is merely a record of character, a community acquires a reputation for conservatism or radicalism, honesty or dishonesty, sobriety or drunkenness, thrift or extravagance, culture or ignorance, depending upon the preponderance

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of these characteristics among its individual residents. Let us take pride then in the fact, and it is a fact, that Sandy Spring Neighborhood has the reputation of being an honest, sober, thrifty, conservative and cultured community. Such a reputation is a priceless asset. It is our greatest protection against invasion by aliens of unworthy standards of living and thinking.

Within certain limitations, every man is free to choose his place of abode and it is natural for one to wish to live among people whose ideals, whose habits of thought and standards of living are in harmony with his own. It is because of this trait of human nature that a community acquires a definitecharacter and in time achieves a reputation based thereon. This neighborhood has been building character and reputation for more than one hundred and fifty years. It is unique in the stability of its population, in its heritage of family background, in the charm of its social life. As I learn more and more of its splendid traditions, I marvel at the prevailing friendliness of individual demeanor and the democracy of the community life. By the grace of God, Sandy Spring Neighborhood has avoided the self-centred exclusiveness, the snobbish aloofness characteristic of certain other Colonial Communities.

How can we insure for this old Neighborhood the perpetuation of those qualities that give it its peculiar charm? How long can we hope to enjoy the advantages of close proximity to city life without sufferingmore of its disadvanages? Can we keep the open spaces about our homes, our gardens, our fields and our forests, or must they give way to sprawling bungalow villages, brick rows, noisy inns and road-houses, Sunday

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pleasure parks and other resorts for undesirable city dwellers? We are not a wealthy community. Fewof us can continue to hold large tracts of land int he face of rapidly increasing values and mounting taxes. For the present these changes are in abeyance, but with the return to normally prosperous times, we shall again witness a growing demand for our land at rising prices. Promoters will again be seeking desirable tracts for subdivision and the fact that we are twenty miles from the center of Washington will be no deterrent. Distance today is measured in minutes rather than miles and tomorrow twenty miles may be only twenty minutes. Some fair morning a few years hence we may pick up the Washington Post or the Baltimore Sun and turn to a double page advertisement with screaming headlines: "SANDY SPRING HEIGHTS. 1000 Magnificent Home Sites in the center of Maryland's most charming old colonial community. First opportunity ever offered for the family of modest means to secure a home in this delightful neighborhood. Choice lots $10. down and $5.00 per month."

What folows? High pressure salesmen and eloquent letter writers will sell hundreds of these lots. A very small proportion of those buying will have any definite intention of building. They will buy in the hope of reselling at a profit. A few cheap cottages of assorted colors will be erected on lots having a frontage of fifty feet or less. The intervening lots will be unsightly weed patches improved only by ugly "FOR SALE" signs. In a short time they will be utilized by the new cottage owners as sites for pig sties and chicken coops. This type of developement is only too common in the vicinity of every large city. Many of them become country slums

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