Seat Pleasant History

Seat Pleasant is a friendly community located just over the District of Columbia line at its northeast corner. The site is part of what had been the Williams-Berry estate until the descendants of General Otho Holland Williams, a Revolutionary War hero, and James Berry, a mid-17th-century Puritan leader, sold it to Joseph Gregory in 1850. Designers of the Chesapeake Beach Railway, constructed in 1897-99 between Washington and Chesapeake Beach in Calvert County, located their first station in Maryland (or last, depending on the direction of travel) on the railway’s right-of-way that traversed the Gregory property.

Seat Pleasant Roundhouse 1933

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They called the station District Line. In 1906, the growing number of residents in the area around the station adopted a more imaginative name for their community- Seat Pleasant, after the early Williams-Berry estate.

Steady growth of traffic on the Chesapeake Beach Railway between 1900 and its peak in 1920 translated into steady development for Seat Pleasant. When the community was incorporated as a town in 1931, it had a school, water company, sewer connections courtesy of the District of Columbia’s sanitary system, and reliable fire protection by the Seat Pleasant Fire and Community Welfare Association. But by that time, the railroad had been in steady decline for ten years, and in 1935 it ceased operations. The cause of its demise-highway construction- was in clear evidence in Seat Pleasant. The town gained two state highways running through it- Maryland Route 704 (now called Martin Luther King Highway and previously named George Palmer Highway after a banker and community leader) and Maryland Route 214 (Central Avenue).

With highway construction came further expansion for Seat Pleasant. Construction of “affordable” housing, notably the Gregory Estates apartments in 1949, was the catalyst for the migration of African-American families from the District of Columbia; before that time, the community had been all white. In the 1980s, the old Chesapeake Beach Railroad roundhouse and turntable were demolished to make room for the Addison Plaza Shopping Center on Central Avenue.

Like Watkins Hardware Store, which was a fixture in Seat Pleasant from the early 1900s until it finally closed in the mid 1990s, most of the testaments to the town’s past are long gone. Two that remain are the Episcopal Addison Chapel (1696) and Mount Victory Baptist Church (1908). Goodwin Park, named after a former mayor, is the town’s most prominent location.

Economic development is a continuing priority in Seat Pleasant as the city strives to improve the quality of life of its residents.