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Chevy Chase is the name of both a town and an unincorporated census-designated place (Chevy Chase (CDP), Maryland) that straddle the northwest border of Washington, D.C. and Montgomery County, Maryland. Several settlements in the same area of Montgomery County and one neighborhood of Washington, D.C. include "Chevy Chase" in their names. These villages, the town, and the CDP share a common history and together form a larger community colloquially referred to as "Chevy Chase".
Primarily a residential suburb, Chevy Chase adjoins Friendship Heights, a popular shopping district. It includes the National 4-H Youth Conference Center, which hosts the National Science Bowl annually in either late April or early May.
The name "Chevy Chase" is derived from "Cheivy Chace", the name of the land patented to Colonel Joseph Belt from Charles Calvert, 5th Baron Baltimore on July 10, 1725. It has historic associations to a 1388 battle between Lord Percy of England and Earl Douglas of Scotland, the subject of the ballad entitled "The Ballad of Chevy Chase". At issue in this "chevauchée" (a French word describing a border raid) were hunting grounds or a "chace" in the Cheviot Hills of Northumberland and Otterburn.
Before 1890, Chevy Chase was unincorporated farmland, during which time Senator Francis G. Newlands of Nevada and his partners began acquiring land in the area, for the purpose of developing a residential streetcar suburb for Washington, D.C. during the expansion of the Washington streetcars system. Newlands and his partners founded The Chevy Chase Land Company in 1890, and its holdings of more than 1,700 acres (6.9 km2) eventually extended along the present-day Connecticut Avenue from Florida Avenue north to Jones Bridge Road. The Chevy Chase Land Company built houses for $5,000 and up on Connecticut Avenue and $3,000 and up on side streets. The company banned all commerce from residential neighborhoods.
Leon E. Dessez was Chevy Chase's first resident. He and Lindley Johnson of Philadelphia designed the first four houses in the area.
Lea M. Bouligny founded a school for young women at the Chevy Chase Inn (7100 Connecticut Ave). Changed name to Chevy Chase College and Seminary for Young Ladies and then again to Chevy Chase Junior College in 1927. In 1951, the National 4-H Club Foundation purchased the property. Bouligny died in 1954 and is buried in Warrenton, Fauquier County, Virginia.
As with many suburban towns throughout the United States during the first half of the 20th century, Chevy Chase excluded individuals based on race and religion. Founder Francis G. Newlands was an "avowed racist" who in 1912 mounted his presidential campaign on a platform that called for a constitutional amendment to disenfranchise black men and limit immigration to whites only. Three years earlier, the Chevy Chase Land Company had brought suit against a developer who had begun to sell lots to black people in a planned subdivision called "Belmont" on the grounds that the developer had committed fraud by proposing "to sell lots...to negroes."
By the 1920s, restrictive covenants were added to Chevy Chase real estate deeds. Some prohibited both the sale or rental of homes to "a Negro or one of the African race." Others prohibited sales or rentals to "any persons of the Semetic [sic] race." By World War II, such restrictive language had largely disappeared from real estate transactions, and all were voided by the 1948 Supreme Court decision in Shelley v. Kraemer.
In addition to the Maryland villages listed above, the United States Postal Service uses Chevy Chase for postal addresses that lie in Somerset, Maryland and the Village of Friendship Heights which lie outside historical Chevy Chase. USPS also uses Chevy Chase addresses for the part of Silver Spring, Maryland east of Jones Mill Road and Beach Drive and, west of Grubb Road.
Chevy Chase is served by the Montgomery County Public Schools.
Chevy Chase, the actor, whose real name is Cornelius Crane Chase, was nicknamed after the community.
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