Iconic Places

Fairhaven Hotel

Shipping Pier

Beach on Bay Side of Bridge

Cove Club

Padgett's Store and Post Office

Marshall's Store

Tacaro Farm

The Swimming "Float"


Christmas Tree on the Platform

The "Caves"

The Bridge


Memorial Marker for Plane Crash

Fairhaven Hotel and Tea Room (see YouTube Video for updated information)

Baltimore Sun, 1878. Source: Becke

Ed Becke. It was a unique hotel. It was on the site where the big brick house is now [at the end of Genoa Ave.] It was all wooden, it had 56 rooms and the big cost -- I have some old newspapers that describe $4 a night per room, and all of the rooms had ropes that went through and back down to the back porch under the back of the hotel. And there was a bell with a number corresponding to the room number. And that's the way they called for service. Whatever they wanted, they'd pull the rope in the room, the bell would ring and one of the porters would come up and find out what they wanted. They usually had a staff of about eight people down below and ready to run and help.
Fair Haven Hotel Source: Malloy

They first had access to the hotel from a little pier that was down by that area in front of that house. But it silted in and was too shallow and the boats couldn't access. So they changed and went down to the steamboat pier. And there was a little road--- you could still see where the road was. If you go up James, you can see a little flat place that goes through about halfway up the hill where the old access road was to the hotel. And they used to have horse and buggies to take people back and forth to the hotel.

Right at the inner end of the pier, there was a waiting room and that waiting room was eventually moved across the road. It's part of that house that's right across the street from Hiser's. At one time that was called, I think, the Fairhaven Tea Room. They had a little restaurant in there. People came and stayed right there. They came down for the weekend. It probably cost them about $15 apiece for the whole weekend.

The brick house that is now [on the site of the Fairhaven hotel] was built by Irvin Owings in 1933. The hotel was torn down and the new house was built with bricks that came from Francis Chewning's enterprise. Owings only lived a few months after it was finished. (Ed Becke, February 8, 2008)
Steamboat moored at Fair Haven HotelCourtesy of B. Malloy

Owings House. Souce: Malloy

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Shipping Pier off Clagett Avenue
School Report Written in 1951-1952. "Tracys Landing was early used as an importing and exporting point until the harbor had to be abandoned...because the creek had been filled in with sediment. Later, Old Fair Haven...became the chief shipping center. Previous to 1890 the Weems Steamboat Company operated from the Old Fairhaven wharf which had to be abandoned after this date because the harbor, like that of Tracys Landing filled in with sediment and could no longer be used....

Freight boats came in to get the tobacco, poultry, stock and anything farmers could sell.The farmers could order farm machinery, tools and supplies from Baltimore and the boats would bring these items to them. All of the boats that came to Fair Haven came from Baltimore. The names of two of the freight boats were the "St. Mary's" and the "Anne Arundel."

After 1890 the boats came into New Haven which was about a quarter of a mile south of old harbor where the channel was much deeper. Many years later according to a statement of Mr. Henry Wilkerson, who was an agent at the wharf for twenty-two years, this steamship company was purchased and operated by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company.

When Baltimore boats were making regular stops at Fair Haven, farmers for miles around could frequently be seen on a hot summer's day driving their plodding ox carts, loaded with peaches or some farm products over the crooked, dusty roads to the old steamship wharf for a trip on the bay to Baltimore.

In 1923, due to the development of improved highways, the truck and the automobile, the steamship line was forced out of business since the products could be sent and received more cheaply and quickly by this new method of transportation." (The above is from a report entitled "Discovering our School Community, by Grade V, 1951-1952, Tracys School." (MD 917.5255, T. Quarto, courtesy of Ed Becke.)
View of pier from Fair Haven Cliffs, Source: Peters

Ed Becke. The old pier was still there in 1925. The old pier used to go out 900 feet from the shore; right about where Hiser's house is now, is where the pier started. It was built by private enterprise for shipping companies. The old steamboats used to come in there and drop off things and pick up all kinds of things. The worst thing they picked up was tobacco. They used to take watermelons and corn and lumber. There was a set of steel tracks that went out on the pier and a big warehouse on the end of the pier. They could take stuff out there and load that warehouse up and when the ships would come, they could load it in the ships. They also had passenger ships that came from Annapolis and Baltimore, brought people down for weekends at the Fairhaven Hotel. The old pier was got a whole new deck in 1933 and before the year was out we had a hurricane and blew the deck completely off. They did not rebuild it. (Ed Becke, February 8, 2008)
Source: Hudson

OCCA. Charlie remembers the old pier which was rebuilt just about a month before the storm took it away. The old pier was condemned. Old Man Wilkinson (Harry Wilkinson) was caretaker, and ran everybody off. The Weems Steamship Company owned the pier. Charlie remembers steamboats coming up. They would drive cattle out onto the pier. They had holding pens for the cattle. They would take the cattle to Baltimore for slaughter. A lumber boat came in regularly. (Conversation with Charlie Walton, 1989.)

Lloyd Tibbott. We had discovered the old Fairhaven pier, where the Baltimore boat used to dock regularly at ten o’clock every night. It was quite a sight as it swung around in a big S curve with lights blazing and bells jingling. The pier was rarely used in the daylight hours and it made a fine spot for swimming or diving. Moreover, it was a pleasant place to spend an afternoon, basking in the sun, enjoying the breeze of Holland Point and watching the many sail ships that still plied the Bay. (Lloyd Tibbott, July 22, 1972)

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Beach on Bay Side of the Bridge

See more photos on Shoreline Changes
Paul McDonald. Someone asked about the old days of the beach in front of the Cove Club. Before the hurricane of 1933 there had been a low sea wall from the pier to the last waterfront house North before the low swamp grass area (Demas' house). In front of that seawall there was about thirty feet of sand above water. There were jetties (groins) at intervals to help keep that beach in place. On the cliff's side of the pier there was about fifty feet of sand with several jetties in front of Ray's house and that beach continued to the area of the cliffs where the Veith (original) cottage was. The creek swept a twenty foot opening with its tide flow. The beach in front of the Cove Club had a clump of locust trees, about ten feet wide, starting about ten feet from the road and reaching about one hundred feet toward the creek.

After the hurricane the low sea wall was gone. I don't remember any sign of it. The beach there was diminished and the dirt that had been behind the wall had spilled onto the beach. On the other side of the pier, in front of Ray's, not as much damage was done. The jetties had to be repaired and I think some of the timbers from the pier were used to do that. The beach from there to Veiths had been damaged but was largely intact. A large chunk of the cliff where McCarthy's house is, fell down but didn't get to the beach.

1946, Hudson family and friends on "Rays beach" Courtesy of T. Hudson

The beach in front of the Cove Club became the "hang out" place for the sunbathers and boaters. Most of the boats from the flats were tied to stakes off that beach. The float and other boats wintered there above high water so there must have been lots of sand. The sea wall was replaced in about 1936 and I can remember being fascinated by the large mules used to grade the banks after the structure was in place. There were no bulldozers then. My mother told of how I came racing to tell her that one of the mules was named Elizabeth just like her. For a couple of years there were some patches of beach in front of the sea wall but the water reclaimed that. Since about 1940 there has been no beach on the flats. (Paul McDonald, 1/18/2011)

That is the second seawall that has been there. The first was fairly new when the hurricane of '33 used the planks of the new pier to batter it down. After that it took until 1937-38 before the new wall was built with about 25' to 30' of sand in front of it. There were some jetties through the years to try to protect the beach but none were successful. (Paul McDonald, 12/04/10)
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Cove Club
Text of YouTube movie, compiled by AHB History project based on the files of Cove Club Inc. provided by Wilson family and memories shared other residents. In 1930, a group came together to purchase land in Fairhaven so they could have access to the beach and the bay. They formed a corporation for their joint venture, which they called the Cove Club. They bought some of the land between the cove and the road. They built a square building with a screened porch all around. The central meeting room had a fireplace. It stood on high pilings, with dressing rooms and privies at ground level.

The club started with about 20 members, nearly half of whom were women. They came from nearby areas as well as DC and the Maryland suburbs. The membership roster soon grew to more than 50 people, some of whom descended from families that had been in Southern Maryland since before the Civil War, including the Briscoe, Carr, Chaney, Chew, Claggett, Emmerick, Estep, Gaddis, Hall, Herring, Orem, Owens, Perrie, Pindell, Plummer, Tupper, Thomson, Woolen, and Wilson families.

Although it was a private club, the members agreed to allow some Fairhaven residents to use their building from time to time. One group given access to the Cove Club was the Fairhaven Sunday School, which held services for adults and children there for 29 years. The Sunday School was established in 1936 by William and Ruth Dayton, who owned a house on Clagett Avenue in the flats.1936-08-02-SundaySchool-kids-credit.jpg

The Sunday school orchestra was conducted by Ted Lewis, a resident of Fair Haven Cliffs. Children were dressed in their Sunday best as they sang well-loved hymns of the day, including one written about the Fairhaven cove. (Refrain: Come, come, come, come, come to the Cove in Fairhaven, the loveliest spot on the Bay. No place is so dear to my redeemer as God’s Fairhaven Cove by the Bay.)

Hurricane Hazel wiped out most of the beach in front of the Cove Club. Hazel was a category 4 hurricane when it made landfall in Myrtle Beach in October, 1954. With only a small tuft of land remaining, fewer residents and club members spent time there.But the cove was still abuzz with activity on Sunday mornings in the 1950s, as scores of baby boomers ambled along the beach on their way to Sunday school with Mr. Lewis, who accompanied their enthusiastic singing on a portable organ.

Winters were less kind to the Cove Club. Given its location, the building was always vulnerable to vandalism, but the problems got worse in the early 1960s. In 1964, members returned in the spring to find 39 broken window panes and most of their furniture damaged or stolen. The next summer, the Fairhaven Sunday School stopped holding services there because of the chronic problems.

1966 marked a new beginning for the Cove Club. A group of five families from across Fairhaven offered to lease and maintain the building for 10 years, a deal the members readily accepted. The inaugural community-wide cocktail party was held on July 8, 1967, with more to follow. Kids and adults came by during the day for art classes, bake sales, and other activities.coveclub-cars-adj.jpg

The building also was a hangout for the baby boomers, who were now teenagers. Boys worked out with weights, flirted with girls, and drank beer –lots of beer. In August, 1970, everyone pitched in to spruce up the Cove Club for Barbara Becke and Steve Smith’s wedding reception.

Although some of the teenagers helped with the upkeep of the building, neither they nor the grownups could stop the vandalism that plagued the Cove Club. In 1975, the families who were leasing the building notified the club that they were terminating their agreement one year early. After vandals set fires inside the building in 1975 and 1977, the members of the Cove Club had no choice but to tear the building down. (Summer 2013. See YouTube video "Connected at the Cove" to see more images and hear the Sunday School song about the Cove.)

Gertrude C. Gingell. [The Cove Club] was built and owned by a group of persons just to have a place to change bathing suits or clothing until "Hazel" destroyed the beach at that location. Then our "Mutt" Ford and several others refurbished it at a cost of approx. $500. The three communities have used it for fundraising projects....Sunday school services were held for years in the Cove Cllub and were taught by Ted Lewis of Fair Haven Cliffs and William Hund of Fair Haven flats, now deceased. (Notes to Mary Kelly/Colby, 1973).
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Paul McDonald: Mr. Hardesty was the Sheriff (or deputy) who seemed to work for Mr. Owings. I think he caused the Cove Club to be formed. The members were farmers and merchants from the Friendship area. Mr. Revell at the general store was their contact with the community.

The land the Club bought was swampy and cheap. It had a natural spring on it so no well was required. They built a square building with a screened porch all around and a meeting room in the center which had a fireplace. It stood on high piers so men's and women's dressing rooms and privies were at ground level. They used it for swimming parties & meetings. It was not often used while I lived there. ( P. McDonald, 12/30/10)

Barbara Becke Smith: The Cove Club was a screened in building between the lake and the bay near the bridge. It was raised up on pilings, was square, with screened porches on 4 sides, and a closed, central room with windows and a fireplace. The "facilities" were on the ground level - contained "out-house" style. The original building was on the Bay side of the road on the land that has since disappeared. There was quite a nice, wide beach there according to photos and a few "old timers." I don't know what happened to that building, or when. The "Cove Club" that I remember was on the other side of the road.

It was built by a group of people from Friendship who called themselves the "Farmer's Community Club," and who wanted to come to Fair Haven to enjoy the beach. I understand that it was necessary for the property to be in an individual's name, and so it was put into the name of someone in the Wilson family, who lived on Sansbury Road in Friendship. I believe it is still in the name of Wilson.

It was used for a variety of functions, but, primarily, for the "Fairhaven Sunday School," which I used to attend in the 1950's. I still have the Bible that was presented to me there and inscribed, "Presented to: Barbara Jane Becke, By: Fairhaven Sunday School, Fairhaven, MD, Aug. 31, 1958" I was 8 years old, and I think I memorized a verse in order to "earn" my Bible. The Sunday School was affiliated with Friendship Methodist Church (my impression always), and was directed by a neighbor in Fair Haven Cliffs, Ted Lewis. Ted lived in the house that now is 6629 Eleanore Ave.

I recall walking down the beach from Owings Cliffs with my friend, Donna Hoyle, to go to Sunday School. Everyone who attended gathered in folding chairs looking toward the "flats" on the "lake" side for group worship to start things off. Ted led the service. There was even an organ! And, naturally, we sang! Must have been entertaining for those trot-liners in the lake! (I know it's really a pond, but we ALWAYS called it the "lake.") We then broke up into classes by age and spread out around the 4 sides of the building.

In later years "The Cove Club" was used for different things - meetings, yard sales, "cocktail parties" (fundraisers for the local community associations,) and other things. I just ran across an old calendar from 1971 with the notation on Sat., Sept. 4: Cocktail Party - Cove Club. In the late 60's, the local teenagers, Jeff Thames, Scott Smith,
View of the Cove, 1968

the Turners, the Boerckels, and others used it as a kind of gym, where they worked out with weights, played cards, and "hung out." Naturally, this became quite the social scene as well, drawing in the girls, too.

On August 28, 1970 The Cove Club became the site of our wedding reception. Steve Smith and I were married at 8 PM at St. James Episcopal Church in Lothian. It was at least 115 degrees in there - no AC in those days! We had a blow out reception at the beautiful screened in Cove Club. All of Fairhaven was invited. At 2:30 AM there were people climbing in boats to go out to the "net" (now referred to as the "swim platform," as there is no more net.) It was a well remembered party! I recall that in order to get the building in shape to host such an event, my dad, Ed Becke, rounded up the young people (all our friends and relatives) to help clean and paint. That was a party in itself! It was definitely a group effort! Lots of work was done, and much fun was had.

Unfortunately, the life and good times of The Cove Club were soon to come to an end. In the next few years vandals had their way, causing some fire damage. Policing the place became impossible, and the decision was made to tear it down. Some think it burned down, but there are those who remember the bull dozer. Whatever finally caused its demise, it was certainly a sad day. (January 23, 2011)

Raymond ("Cappy") Ruppert. Families from Upper Marlboro started the Cove Club in order to have a place at the beach where they could change into their bathing suits, etc. Ted Lewis had a portable organ in the Cove Club and organized singing fests there. [editors note: 1950s-1960s?] In 1966, Jack Wagner, Mutt Ford, Kevin Malloy, Jim Wisner and I signed a 10-year lease of the Cove Club with Leona Wilson for a dollar a year and $37 for insurance. We each put in $100 to make repairs to the building. On July 8, 1967, we held the first cocktail party/fundraiser at the Cove Club and earned $310.44. Molly Ruppert, Barbara Malloy, and Marine Wisner organized the events and the food. We held several parties a year there until 1972, when we decided to give up the lease. Each of the partners received $60 back when we gave up the lease. The last party at the Cove Club earned $517. (July 12, 2013).

Copy of deed between Irvin and Jeannette Owings and "The Cove Club, Incorporated," July 16, 1930.
Source: Maryland Archives

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Padgett’s Store/Fairhaven Post Office

Tom Hudson. Padgett's Store stood at the southeast corner of Fair Haven Road and Revell Road, which was still just dirt and gravel even into the 1950's. It was a wood frame building, painted white with red trim. Outside was a battered Texaco gasoline pump which had the annoying trait of jumping to a sale of 2 cents the minute you turned it on. I doubt if anybody ever complained about it. In those days you just accepted some things as a part of life. Walking up the hill about 30 feet you arrived at the entrance of the store. Usually there would be about a half dozen chickens walking around and seemingly eating gravel. The belonged to the Revell's, who previously owned the business. Outside and to the left of the door were some old wooden benches for empty soda bottles, which you returned To the left of the Post Office window was a hard wooden chair. On the few occasions that Mrs. Padgett actually had time to take a break, that's where she sat. Unless she was sorting the mail, she always made time to hug and kiss every child who came in the store, most of them barefoot. It wasn't one of those "politician's kisses", but genuine and heartfelt. She loved children. Even when you'd grown to an adult, you still got the kiss and hug when you came into the store. Barbara Padgett was a very special lady.
Postcard. Source: OCCA

Next, along the back wall was a pay-phone. This was very important, because only a handful of people had phones in their houses at that time. If someone needed to contact a Fair Haven resident, they would call the store and leave a message with the Padgetts. Next to the phone was doorway to a sort of back porch area, where produce was kept. The main refrigeration machinery was located there too and sometimes it would startle me when it kicked on. There was an ancient sort of refrigerator or freezer on the porch too. Just inside the door was hand-cranked kerosene pump. It pretty much looked like just a pipe coming out of the floor, but with a strange device with a crank handle on top and a hook to hold your container. You would crank the handle counter-clockwise several times until it stopped and then when you reversed direction it would dispense the kerosene. I think one complete cycle was supposed to give one gallon. Also on this porch was the door through which Mrs. Padgett entered her Post Office room.

Back inside the store and along the same back wall were wooden shelves with canned goods, sugar, flower, etc. These shelves worked around the wall on the left also. They were painted light green and trimmed in black. They pretty much went from floor to ceiling. The next major fitting in the store was what seemed to be a gigantic meat counter. It was white porcelain, with a slanted front of very thick glass. Nearby was a grinder for ground beef. On top of the meat counter there was an ancient looking electric fan--the kind that looks like it was constructed of bent coat hangers. It was painted black and had a brass nameplate in the center of the grille that read "Emerson Electric". I think it was running constantly, diligently stirring the hot humid air inside the store, which of course was not air conditioned. That didn't bother us, because at that time about the only things that were air conditioned were movie theaters. We just didn't know any better. Between the meat counter and the walls of shelves were a few other fixtures. There was a freezer, more shelving and the bread rack. It was Koester's Bread (Kesters), which was delivered almost daily by a big cream colored Ford Van with a picture of two babies on the side. It was "Koester's Twins" Koesters had what they called a twin loaf in those days. It was the size of a regular loaf of bread, but could be separated into two half loafs, individually wrapped inside the outer wrapping. You just pulled a zip-strip to separate them. This way you could buy just half a loaf if you wanted, or when buying the whole loaf, the unopened half stayed fresh until you needed it. I don't remember where the milk was kept, but I certainly remember the Green Spring Dairy delivery truck.

Frank and Barbara Padgett

Behind the meat counter was a walkway for Mr. Padgett to access the cuts of meat and on the other side of the walkway the wall had additional shelves. These were generally not self-service shelves, although I think that was just an unwritten rule. We just didn't go behind the meat counter. Having worked counter-clockwise through the store, we now encounter the business end--the checkout counter, which held the adding machine (no calculators in those days) and it was hand cranked--a good idea, since electric power was not too reliable in those days. Here also was the gumball machine. A gumball was a penny. I think some charms were mixed into the same machine, but that may have been a separate one. At any rate, you could get all kinds of plastic treasures if you were lucky, including gold rings that turned your fingers green when they got wet. On the wall behind the checkout counter were shelves for cigarettes and candy. I think cigarettes were a quarter for a pack and of course candy bars were just a nickel.

In those days the old store was really a major part of this community. You could get your food, gas, mail, newspaper, mouse traps, bug spray, suntan lotion and pretty much anything else you needed. It was a place to stay in touch with your neighbors and, via the phone and post office, with the larger outside world. You could just stop in to visit and nobody complained if you were blocking the aisle. Sadly, what made it so special is what ultimately caused its demise. It was a mom and pop store in the truest sense. It was not a franchise, like IGA or 7-Eleven. The business was run by two dedicated individuals, with some occasional volunteer help from their grandchildren. Of necessity, the prices were higher than at a chain store. They didn't have the finances or even the space to buy in bulk. Of course Fair Haven was then primarily a summer place, so the winters would have been very unprofitable. Probably the only thing that kept them in business during the winter months was the Post Office. Over time more people did their basic shopping at supermarkets and relied on Padgetts for those "gotta have" things that they might have run out of. Eventually the newspaper and mail were delivered to your door and the Post Office at Fair Haven was closed. After the Padgetts died, their daughter Mary reopened the store for a short time, but it wasn't a profitable venture. With her death, the store closed for good and not long after that it was the victim of arson and eventually torn down. I still remember it and the Padgetts with reverence, and can see them clearly in my mind as I step through that doorway barefoot onto the dark brown wooden floor.

Peggy Jones McAllister. My grandparents ran Padgetts store. “Padgetts” was built around 1930 by Mr. JB Revell, who was called “Captain Bal” (James Ballard, or JB). His son was William “Snippy” Revell. There was a picture of Snippy in the 1965 article in the Baltimore Sun on Fairhaven. His wife Lil had chickens. They lived in the house behind the store on Revell Rd. They sold the store to the Padgetts in April, 1946. Barbara Padgett was sworn in as Postmaster on January 15.

Alice Revell and Capt. James Ballard "Bal" Revell,circa early 1930scourtesy of Peggy Jones McAllister

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Marshall's Store in Town Point

Doug Muir. I did want to say one of the things that people aren't aware of, we had a grocery store right there at the intersection of Leitch Road and Club Road on Town Point. It was Marshall's Store. And I have not seen a picture of it. I'm hoping someday to see a picture of that. It had two huge gravelly set gasoline pumps out in front. The store was converted to a year-round residence and it's still there now. The first home on the right as you enter Club Road--it's small -- a garage-type of design. It's not very large. It's one of the smaller homes there. Probably built in the early teens of 1900. My first visit to the store was in 1940. And when I came back -- well, it was there over the years but I don't remember being there after the fifties. Weekenders would buy hamburger and bread and milk and so forth -- necessities. The one thing I've known as a kid, they had one-arm penny slot machines -- bandits, of which we'd get some pennies and try our luck.

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The "Float"

Mary Catherine/Frankie McCarthy Kelly Colby. I learned to swim at Fairhaven by going out a little deeper in the bay each year. Dad and Mom bought our cottage on the cliff in 1939 when I was three years old. They paid $3,000 for a cottage and six lots. While Dad was able to swim, Mom never learned despite taking lessons every winter with Pauline Keegan at the YWCA in Washington.

Unlike my children and grandchildren, we never took formal lessons. We eventually learned to stay afloat and dog paddle. There was nothing graceful about the style until later. My swimming form was critiqued by Roome Gibson. I can still hear him telling me to keep my fingers together when I stroked the water.

One of the summer highlights was the day Charlie Chrye had a few young men take the “float” out to the channel and anchor it there for the summer. Charlie lived in the house we eventually came to know as Vic Eversfield’s house by the bridge. He had made the float from empty oil drums and boards. This structure spent the winter months on the property below the cliff which was owned by Reuben Johnson.

Eloise Hudson on the float. August 1939. Source: Hudson

There were full length steps running along adjacent sides so that we could climb to the top. On the shallow side, boats would be tied to the float and to each other so that a long line would extend toward the shore. The opposite side was used for diving.

Underneath there was a hollow space between the drums where we would tread water and make nuisances of ourselves to the kids on top. Since the McCarthys and the other kids on the hill (Keegans, Gibsons and *Sidney Crouch) had a perfect vantage point, we often waited until someone had arrived at the float before heading out. The first arrivals were the ones who had to clean off the seagull poop.

The Gibsons had a fog horn which was a boxlike instrument that made noise by pulling a lever back and forth along the side. It could be heard quite a distance. It was used to call us for lunch or dinner. As I recall, one mournful sound was for the McCarthys, two sounds for the Gibsons, three for the Keegans and four meant for all of us to head for shore.

The float was later replaced by the swimming net which is still standing as the two tiered platform at the channel. We still refer to it as the net because it originally had a circle of pilings arced around the platform where a net would be strung early in the summer to keep the sea nettles out. A similar semicircular net was placed near the shore where the volleyball games are now held. This was for the toddlers to use while their mothers sat and visited on the beach.

I’m still swimming, three miles a week. It’s my passion and exercise. (October 31, 2011)

*Sidney was a “tobacco girl” who came for part of the summer when her father bid on tobacco at Upper Marlboro. They rented one of Gertrude Gingell’s cottages which now belongs to the Mills. Return to top.

Platform and “the Net” in the Cliffs
The Fairhaven communities have had swimming platforms for several decades. We need information on when the first platform was built. In the mid-1960s, the community built a second platform. The photo below is from the summer when both were still standing. The "net" is to the left of the left platform.

Phil Ross. The first “nettle net” that I remember was in the ‘50s, which was built around some existing old duck blind pilings. It had two platforms, one about a foot higher than the other; a wooden ladder on the outside and on the inside; and a rectangular, enclosed area. The enclosed area was on the outer side a sandbar, so that the shallow side was around three feet deep at low tide, and the deeper side was about six or seven feet deep at low tide. (This definitely should be corroborated.) (email, August 2015)

Source: Becke

Barbara Miller. I have talked with Ed Becke about his building, in 1965, a sea nettle net in Herring Bay for the three Fairhaven communities. He himself drew up the engineering plans for the project and still has that plan in in his files. All three communities helped with the financing.
Alan Becke on platform 1965. Source: Becke

He constructed a diving platform 900 feet from shore. It required 8 pilings to be driven 25' deep, each piling a 12" minimum diameter. The platform itself was 12' x 38'.

For the net itself, as it was constructed in 1965, the pilings were 4" x 4" and were 18' long at the deeper end and 16' long at the less deep end. In 1968, the pilings were replaced with 6" x 6" pilings, because many of the smaller ones had been broken up by the ice. There were 19 of these pilings, plus using four of the pilings of the platform (one side of the platform). Attached to the pilings with galvanized staples was 6" x 6" concrete reinforcing wire, and attached to the wire was galvanized hardware cloth, to prevent the sea nettles from getting through.

The pile driving was done by a professional pile driver but all the rest of the work was done by members of the Cliffs community. Once the pile driving was done, the work took about a month of continual work by this group. The cost of the pile driving for the platform was $450, but that, of course, was in 1965. Ed and his neighbors put in the net pilings themselves, using a jet pump, and had to be careful not to put them in too deep.

It worked perfectly to keep the sea nettles out. The people in the community, especially the young people, loved to dive from the platform into the water, and then return to the platform using a specially constructed ladder. The net was used for approximately ten years.
Swim net work, July 1965.jpg
Repairing the net. Source: Becke

The final destruction came during one winter when there was a foot of ice. It was so solid that people were driving trucks out on the Bay. When the ice went out, it took all of the sea nettle pilings with it. The only thing that was left was the main swim platform (which is still there and is used for the Christmas tree every year). It is now used all summer for fishing and crabbing -- and swimming when the sea nettles aren't there. There are now so many fresh-water swimming pools in the community that no one is interested in funding or working on a new sea nettle net.

At some point after the destruction of the net, Ed and others in the community built a smaller version by the beach, for the use of younger children. They could wade out in the water without having to worry about the sea nettles. They used little 4" x 4" pilings, in a "U" of about a 50' radius, using the same 1/2" mesh cloth -- not the wire, just the mesh. About once every two weeks, the trash that had washed down from the shore had to be cleaned out from the outside of the mesh fencing. Also, the "little net" had to be put up fresh every year. After a while, there were no longer enough people willing to do the work necessary to have it up every year. (Barbara Miller, March 15, 2009)

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Christmas Tree on the Platform (see YouTube movie for more details and images)

Barbara Miller. The tradition of the tree began as gesture of friendship between two long-time residents of Owings Cliffs, Ed Becke and Tommy Hoyle. In 1983, Tommy was gravely ill and decided to spend his last days in his cottage by the beach. That December, Tommy told Ed hoped he would live long enough to see Christmas lights one more time. With the help of his son Alan and their neighbors, Ed made Tommy’s wish come true. They cut down a 24-foot cedar, hauled it to the beach and out to the platform. Friends donated lights for the tree as well as the 1,300-foot insulated cable that connects the lights to an electrical outlet in Ed’s kitchen. Tommy was looking out his window when Ed flicked the switch to light up the tree. Tommy’s wife Myrtle said that he “turned over and smiled. He looked at it day and night."

The tree on the platform became an annual event. For the next seven years, Ed corralled a team of hearty volunteers to hoist a live tree onto the platform. Stormy weather was always a threat to the tree, and in 1990, high winds knocked it down. Undaunted, Ed and his friends managed to put it back up, but the era of live trees was over. From then on, the “tree” would be strings of lights adorning a Christmas stick!

Grateful neighbors helped Ed continue this annual tradition. Some donated money toward Ed’s electric bill. Others helped him test the light bulbs to make sure they would still glow. And there wouldn’t be a tree every year without a team of strong backs to affix a steel pole on the platform and drape it in hundreds colored lights.

Neighbors showed their appreciation of Ed’s efforts in 2007, when John and Gail Hiser hosted a celebration in honor of Ed on the 25th anniversary of the Christmas tree. Ed had first come here in 1925 and over the years had become known as a patriarch of Fairhaven. The Hisers’ event started with a lighting of the tree and was followed by a series of plaudits from local officials like Ed Reilly, who read a citation from the county council that recognized Ed’s lifetime of service to his neighbors. More honors came from county executive John Leopold and delegate Robert Costa. The guests looked on with pride for Ed and the community he loved.

Ed’s tree on the platform brought holiday cheer to people from Holland Point to Franklin Manor for 30 years. But the tree symbolized something more to the man who created it. For Ed, the tree was his memorial to all who had lived in Fairhaven and passed on. Ever the engineer, Ed was always thinking of ways to improve the Christmas tree. He was working on a new design for the tree in the fall of 2013 when he left us, suddenly and unexpectedly. Ed’s family and friends are honoring his legacy by continuing the tradition of the tree on the platform. They dedicate their efforts to his memory. (December, 2013. See YouTube Video for more images)
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The "Caves"
Paul McDonald. Someone asked me if I knew anything about a cave at Fairhaven. The following is my best recollection.

Behind the Ford's farm house and down a hill there was a brick masonry arch. It appeared to have been a round structure the bottom of which had sunk into the ground. Water continuously ran out of it forming a small stream headed toward the lake. In the basement of Holly Hill there was a similar brick structure.

One summer when I was eight or nine (1938-1939) the teenagers of Fairhaven decided the two structures were connected underground. They got permission from Mr. Ford to try to get into the cave at his end. Cmdr. LeClare, who owned Holly Hill declined to help. My brother Joe, John, Bob, and Enos Ray, Vernon Gingle, Herb Watson, Mutt Ford and others (I believe the Veith boys were visiting their priest uncle in Missouri). I can't remember more names but I believe there were some. Girls were not invited to help. I wasn't either, but Bob Lindaur and I watched.

After several days of digging they opened some space at the opening but it filled with cold water. Even with their best flashlights they couldn't see very far into the structure. They got inner tubes inside and chose Herbie Watson, who was small and another guy (?) to go in and explore. They did that but after a short distance the water came to the ceiling and they could go no further. The boys came out and though there was talk of underwater diving equipment nothing like that materialized. Mr. Ford was of the opinion that the structure had been a spring house but he said he really didn't know. It may still be there completely covered by silting from the hills around it. At that time there were many strong flowing "artesian" springs or wells in the Cliffs area.

The Cove Club and Mrs . Watson's house were two locations I knew used springs as the water supply. The spring water had a strong sulfur smell and I remember my Grandmother McDonald saying the shallow-well water at her cottage made "terrible" tea. It smelled bad. (Paul McDonald, Jan 7, 2011)

Earl Arnett. "The one romantic element in Fairhaven's almost forgotten history is a cave located on a farm nearby. It has an arched bricked entrance about six feet high and four feet wide. The bricks extend fourteen feet back into the manmade cave, which has two rooms.

Local forlklore hints that the cave might have been used by smugglers or pirates. The cave is located near enough to "Chew's Cove" to keep such legands alive. More practical souls say it probably was an ice house. It was explored once in 1909, and nothing was found. Now the entrance is almost buried in dirt obscured by a fallen tree." (Baltimore Sun, December 3, 1968)

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Tacaro Farm
Chewning Family, 1931 Source: B. Malloy

Ed Becke, 2008: Irvin Owings was a close friend of Francis Chewning, who built Tacaro. He (Chewning) also owned the brick factory at Northeast Washington, down at the intersection of New York Avenue and Bladensburg Road. It was called Taracotta (sp?) in those days, that neighborhood.

Source: Maryland Archives

Pat Keegan Grigsby. Tacaro Farm was built in 1940, before the War. The name is a combination of TA from Taylor Chewning and the CARO from his wife’s name, Caroline. There is no pool because they had good friends with a child that died in a pool. (notes, August 2016)

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Friends, 8/2015: There used to be a school in Fairhaven, on Fairhaven Rd. near the property with the rock garden. Several different opinions on where it was located, but it did exist. Moved out of Fairhaven school and into new school (Tracys) in 1933.
Tracys Elementary School, 1950s, courtesy S. Fritz-Owens
In the 1950s, the school bus stop was at Padgett’s store. Photo of children waiting for the bus: Skippy Jones, two Millburn girls, Timmy Jones, George Millburn, another Millburn girl.
Kids waiting for school bus at Padgetts, circa 1950s, courtesy Peggy Jones McAllister.

Pat Keegan Grigsby (her kids attended Traceys in 1966-67 school year). My kids love Traceys! They went to school with people that they played with in Fairhaven. The staff at TracEy’s (why is there an E only at the school?) was wonderful for my kids. Sheila was in Mrs. Prout’s 2nd grade with Paula Thames and Kathy Hargrove. Russell was in the third and Kevin in the fourth. From principal, teachers, secretaries and the “floating” speech and reading teachers, they were all excellent. (notes, August 2016)

The Bridge
OCCA. Charlie remembers Capt'n John's house across from Hunts by the old trestle bridge, which eventually rusted away and was replaced in the 1930s, maybe 1930. (Conversation with Charlie Walton, 1989).
See Mary Colby's mention of the bridge - click this link 1950s

Bridge over creek, 1926. Source: F. Wright

Fun by the bridge. Source: Wright/Hunt

Geese by bridge. Source: Wright

Playing on Fairhaven Rd.pre 1933 Source: OCCA

The bridge built in 1933. Source: OCCA

Source: Becke/OCCA

1933 bridge being removed-1987?. Source: Eversfield

1933 bridge being removed-1987?. Source: Eversfield

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