The racist origin of Chevy Chase and its founder: Why the village’s centerpiece needs to go

Approved ~~ MJM

With the historical significance behind the town’s founder, will the centerpiece dedicated to him be taken down?

CHEVY CHASE, Md. — Frances Newlands was born in 1846. He was the son of a Scottish physician. He grew up in Natchez, Mississippi. 

Newlands’ father, an alcoholic, died at a young age, and his mother remarried a businessman who had lost his fortune in the depression of 1857. The newly formed family eventually moved to the District of Columbia. 

In 1867, Newlands went to Yale University, and in 1869, graduated from Columbian College – now known as George Washington University Law School – and was admitted to the bar. 

Newlands was elected to the House of Representatives as a Congressman from Nevada in 1893. He went on to become a three-term Democratic senator from the same state in 1903. 

He founded the Chevy Chase Land Co. in the 1890s, which developed the exclusive residential neighborhoods around the circle that sits on the D.C.-Maryland line. It would later become known as the Chevy Chase Village in Maryland, and the neighborhood of Chevy Chase in D.C.

Like many of Newlands’ property developments, he intended for Chevy Chase to be a white-only area.



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