The tiny town of North Brentwood has one of the most interesting backstories of any Route 1 community.
Founded after the Reconstruction era by a veteran commander of the U.S. Colored Troops, the community was settled by black families seeking to own their own homes and build their own lives after the war.
Over the years, the working-class community of a few hundred people built homes, dug ditches to reduce flooding, opened a Rosenwald school, built Baptist and Methodist churches, started a local civic association, organized a volunteer fire company, installed electric streetlights and started a local historical society.
When it officially became a town in 1924, it was the first African-American community incorporated in Prince George’s County.
Many of the original residents had ties to Capt. Wallace A. Bartlett, a captain of the 19th U.S. Regiment of Colored Troops who later co-invented a type of dynamite gun, wrote several books and worked as a patent officer. Bartlett began selling lots in the area in 1887, and the growing community was soon informally known as Randalltown after an early buyer who eventually started a coal and ice supply company.
In later years, the community was often called “Black Brentwood,” to differentiate it from “White Brentwood” south of Webster Street. Eventually, the area was renamed North Brentwood.