North Brentwood, a suburb of Washington, D.C. is nestled between Hyattsville and Mount Rainier, Maryland along Rhode Island Avenue (Route 1). The small town holds the distinction of being the first municipality in Prince George’s County incorporated by African Americans.
North Brentwood was developed from a farm tract owned by Captain Wallace Bartlett who commanded the 19th infantry of the U.S. Colored Troops in Brazos and Brownsville, Texas, during the Civil War. His regiment, the “Colored Men in Blue,” was made up largely of volunteer black soldiers recruited from Maryland, especially the Eastern Shore. Captain Bartlett settled in Brentwood after the Civil War and in 1887 he formed the Holladay Land and Improvement Division to sell parcels of land from a floodplain area to his regiment soldiers, former slaves, and other black families.
In 1892, Henry, Peter, and Augustus Randall built the first houses. The new community in the northern section of Brentwood became known as Randalltown after its first settlers. By 1905, the settlement had 65 residents and 15 dwellings.
After its incorporation in 1924 as North Brentwood, the town became politically, socially, and economically self-sufficient, with his own governing structure, religious institutions, and business enterprises. The 1920s and 1930s were a period of growth and expansion. The 1930 North Brentwood Directory lists the population at 800 inhabitants.
During these years, however the town was periodically flooded following rain storms. Yet flood damages and setbacks never dampened the spirit of North Brentwood Residents. For years they prepared petitions and pressured the proper authorities. Their perseverance paid off in the 1950s when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built a levee. The active and proud citizens of North Brentwood have often organized to protect their interests and bring better services to their community.
– Footsteps from North Brentwood