Saturday, October 15, 2022

The Big Five-O in OB


Happy Birthday, Owen Brown! Columbia’s 5th village is celebrating its 50th birthday today. 

The festivities begin at noon today and run until four. The location is the Owen Brown Community Center. A word of advice: I got lost once trying to find it because I made the assumption that it was a part of the village center. It isn’t. The exact address is 6800 Cradlerock Way and it looks like this:

Photo from OBCA website 

I imagine there will be encouraging signage to alert you. It’s going to be clear and sunny. Go have some fun in Owen Brown this afternoon.

And yes, I did wonder this morning who “Owen Brown” actually was. I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve never chased that down before. From the OBCA website:

The village name was derived from the land grant name of a former landowner, postmaster and store owner in the area. Mr. Owen Brown operated a store on what is now the intersection of Route 108 and Manor Lane. The name was initially just a working title for the development but the name stuck, according to a book by Missy Burke, Robin Emirch and Barbara Kellner, titled "Oh You Must Live Columbia! The origins of place names in Columbia, Maryland."  

Speaking of Columbia history, this newspaper article shared in conjunction with Owen Brown’s 50th birthday celebration is fascinating.

“Columbia to Add 5th Village To House 11,000 by 1975”  Washington Post, July 15, 1972

It’s interesting to see what was in the mind’s eye of the planners back in 1972. 

Also planned are a neighborhood center to open next May, a village center for the Fall of 1975, and an auto service station, inn, bowling lanes, office park, banquet center, and restaurant to line Broken Land Parkway.

I know where the neighbor center and village center are. The auto service station, too. They’re all on Cradlerock. The bowling lanes are on Snowden, though, along with assorted eateries. There’s definitely an office park on Broken Land. Where’s the inn? The banquet center? (Does Columbia have a designated “banquet center” anywhere?)

For that matter, Owen Brown was slated to have three elementary schools, a middle school and a high school. I wonder what happened there? Here’s where my readers who are armchair Columbia historians can fill in some of these bits and pieces. I hope they will.

My favorite part of Owen Brown is Lake Elkhorn, the site of many family picnics through the years. And yet - - it may be a tie with the East Columbia Branch of the Howard County Library. And then there’s the Owen Brown Interfaith Center where the UUCC meets and so many important community events take place. There’s a lot to love in Owen Brown.

Stop by today and wish them a happy birthday. 

Post your Owen Brown historical bits and pieces here:

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