Archive for August 2012
When first residents moved into Greenbelt in 1937, students attended classes at the Center School (the present day Greenbelt Community Center). Shortly after, in the fall of 1938, a new high school opened in the west part of the town, at Edmonston Road and Greenbelt Road. When Eleanor Roosevelt High School opened in 1976 in Greenbelt East, that old high school became Greenbelt Middle School. For many years, there have been plans to build a new Greenbelt Middle School building. Finally, on August 20, when Prince George’s County Public Schools opened their doors for the new school year, a ribbon cutting ceremony was held to open the new $56-million Greenbelt Middle School.
The new Greenbelt Middle School is on Breezewood Drive, just northwest of the old Middle School. Here a sign says “Welcome Back Students.”
Sarah Saviet’s parents are members of Mishkan Torah Synagogue. She studied music at Peabody Preparatory in Baltimore and has just completed her Performance Diploma studies at Indiana University. She has won a number of competitions including Indiana University concerto competition and National Symphony Orchestra’s Young Artists Competition. Recently, she received both a Fulbright Scholarship and a German grant to begin a three year course of study for her masters degree at the University of the Arts in Berlin. Before she leaves for Germany next Wednesday, she gave a recital at Mishkan Torah this past Sunday afternoon.
Jeffrey Rosen, master of ceremonies, opens by saying that for the Jewish culture “the most important of the senses probably is sound.” The prayer Shema Yisrael means “Hear, O Israel,” and the poem Haazinu in the Torah means “Give ear.” “If there is one instrument which really touches the Jewish soul, it’s the violin. I tried to think today but I never, ever heard a musical called French Hornist on the Roof.” He mentions several famous Jewish violinists including Itzhak Perlman, David Oistrakh, Jascha Heifetz, and Nathan Milstein. He then introduces Mishkan Torah’s own prodigy Sarah Saviet.
After five sessions over two days, the Greenbelt 75th Anniversary Symposium culminated in a keynote address by British architect and town planner Dr. Mervyn Miller. The title of his address is “From The British Garden City to Greenbelt and back to the English New Towns.” “The talk will document [the] transatlantic dialogue that connects Ebenezer Howard’s Garden City ideas with the planning of Greenbelt and the design of important New Towns beyond.”
Isabelle Gournay, symposium chair and associate professor in the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at the University of Maryland, introduces the speaker. Dr. Mervyn Miller is a renowned authority on Garden Cities. He has written several books including Letchworth: The First Garden City, Raymond Unwin: Garden Cities and Town Planning, Hampstead Garden Suburb, and English Garden Cities. Gournay tells that she and Mary Corbin Sies, another Greenbelt resident and University of Maryland professor, have attended many planning conferences with Dr. Miller, in Helsinki, New Delhi, and London. When they were planning for this symposium, they thought that they must have Dr. Miller speak here. She also thanks GHI for providing Dr. Miller a guest suite.
Greenbelt’s popular summer youth circus camp is taught by Greg May, a former member of Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus. At the end of the four-week camp, the campers put on a show in the Greenbelt Community Center gym for family members and the general public.
This year’s show is titled “Cinema” and it begins with a roar from the MGM lion.
On Saturday, after the showing of Little Miss Broadway, I had a chance to go up to the projection booth of the Greenbelt Theatre and observed the breaking down of the film into reels.
A circular iron stairway leads from the lobby level to the projection booth.
When the first families moved into Greenbelt, there was no banking facilities; so a few pioneers got together and decided to organize a credit union. Greenbelt Federal Credit Union received its charter on December 13, 1937, opened for business on January 3, 1938, and held its first annual meeting on January 19, 1938. It became the first community credit union in the area, the first financial institution in Greenbelt and the first cooperative in Greenbelt. This year, GFCU is celebrating its 75th anniversary.
Cynthia Comproni, General Manager of Greenbelt Federal Credit Union, stands in front of the credit union in Roosevelt Center. Since its founding, GFCU has occupied several locations in Roosevelt Center, from an office at Greenbelt Consumer Services (predecessor of today’s Co-op), to adjacent city office, to Nationwide Insurance office above the present day Beijing Restaurant, to an office behind where Domino’s Pizza is, and to the Co-op where the pharmacy is. In 1982, after the Greenbelt Post Office moved to a new location below the Co-op Supermarket, GFCU and Twin Pines Savings and Loan moved into its former space. GFCU has remained in this location since then; however, Twin Pines later went out of business and its space now houses the New Deal Café. The Post Office has also moved out of Roosevelt Center and now is in Greenbelt East.
When the federal government purchased the land for Greenbelt, three cemeteries were included within its boundaries–those of the Hamilton, Turner, and Walker families. On a recent morning, I visited these three cemeteries and also the famous Indian Springs.
Intersection of Hamilton Place and Ridge Road, with crepe myrtles full of blossoms. The Hamilton Cemetery is located at the end of Hamilton Place.
So far this year I have written entirely about things happening in Greenbelt, but Greenbelt does not exist in isolation. This is the first of a series of posts on short excursions from Greenbelt. I hope to visit some of Greenbelt’s immediate neighbors such as NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, University of Maryland, Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, etc, where many Greenbelters work or visit. Last Saturday, I visited Riversdale House Museum in Riverdale Park to check out its annual Battle of Bladensburg Encampment. I ran into quite a few Greenbelters there.
One of the most notable events in American history happened about six miles from Greenbelt’s city center. On August 24, 1814, during the War of 1812, British forces defeated an American army at the Battle of Bladensburg and then went on to occupy Washington, D.C. and burn the U.S. Capitol and the White House. Each year on a Saturday in August, a Battle of Bladensburg Encampment is held at Riversdale House Museum near the site of the battle. It is attended by reenactors on both sides.
Reenactors representing British Royal Marines tell the British perspective of the battle. In the distance is Riversdale House, a five-part, stucco-covered brick plantation house built between 1801 and 1807. When the Battle of Bladensburg took place, the home was occupied by George Calvert, a descendant of Lords Baltimore, Maryland’s founding family, and his wife Rosalie Stier Calvert.
Greenbelt is known for its cooperatives. Some of these started shortly after the town was founded such as the Greenbelt News Review (then called the Cooperator) and the Greenbelt Federal Credit Union. Others were formed as needs arose such as Greenbelt Homes, Inc. (then called Greenbelt Veterans Housing Corporation) which came into being when the federal government decided to sell the town. There have also been changes and even rebirth, such as in 1984, a new cooperative, the Greenbelt Consumer Cooperative, purchased the supermarket and pharmacy from an older entity. The United Nations has declared 2012 as the International Year of the Cooperatives, and last Sunday the Greenbelt Cooperative Alliance hosted a celebration at Roosevelt Center.
The Greenbelt Cooperative Alliance’s banner hangs at Roosevelt Center in front of the Co-op Supermarket. It says: “Celebrating Co-ops: Building a Better Greenbelt Since 1937.” Of course, the town color, green, is used for the banner.
The last two National Night Out gatherings I visited were at Hunting Ridge Condominiums in Greenbelt East and Roosevelt Center in Old Greenbelt.
Hunting Ridge is a 362-unit condominium community in Greenbelt East, between Capital Beltway in the west, Hanover Parkway in the east, Hanover Apartments in the north, and Green Lake Village in the south. The buildings were completed in 1974 and house 1, 2, and 3-bedroom condominiums. The community was originally outside the city boundary, but in 1984, it petitioned to become part of Greenbelt and was annexed. The hunting horn featured on this sign, at the entrance by Hanover Parkway, is the community’s emblem.