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Monday, July 18, 2016

Building history

1355 Odenton Road 1930's and present
This article appears in Heritage Times, the news journal of the Odenton Heritage Society, Summer 2016. The issue is about Odenton businesses throughout the town's history. Thought you would enjoy reading about how one building has served the shopping needs of the community for over 100 years. The article is lengthy and will be presented in two blog posts.

Please help preserve the history of your local communities. As time passes and development increases we are losing the treasures of our past. This includes our oral history. Your community elders are a wealth of information. Take the time to ask and listen. Enjoy the article.

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A History of 1355 Odenton Road
By Gregory Mazzella
Part 1
The large plate glass windows filled with merchandise and the lighted OPEN sign let you know there is a business in the building. Walking through the front door of 1355 Odenton Road you can feel the history. The large, open front room, the tall ceilings. The upper floors and basement accessed via narrow stairwells. In the basement is where the age of the building is exposed as this area is mostly as it has been for a century. You’ll find that the ceiling is low. Brick walls form the foundation and heavy wooden beams support the floors above. Look around the main floor and you can imagine the setup of merchants past. Long counters with display cases, jars of penny candy, shelves filled with merchandise.  The building was constructed between 1910 and 1920. Throughout it’s history the building has consistently housed mercantile establishments since it’s construction. Whether general stores or home goods this building has served the Odenton community for a century and continues to do so.
            By the second decade of the 20th century, Odenton had been a successful hub of rail transportation for more than forty years. Odenton was still a rural area and mostly farmland and fields. However, industry, hotels, and stores had sprung up near the Odenton train station and Academy Junction. Roads were dirt and horses were still the main source of local transportation. The future intersection of Piney Orchard Parkway and Odenton Road, while not congested with automobiles, was still a bustling area for the time.  At the time, the intersection did not exist as we know it today. Where Piney Orchard Parkway now runs, a train trestle crossed over Odenton Road to allow trains to run north and south without interference. To the west was the rail station for the Baltimore and Potomac/Annapolis and Elkridge Railroad junction. To the north, Academy Junction, where the Annapolis & Elkridge Railroad and Washington, Baltimore, and Annapolis electric railway met. You can imagine lots of foot traffic, horse carts, people waiting for their trains and connections, politicians traveling to and from Annapolis and Washington. D.C., farmers bringing in their harvest for shipment. And let’s not forget about Camp Meade, which was formed in 1917, providing an influx of soldiers to the community. You can see why the area, that particular junction, was a hub for the region. You can see why a young entrepreneur would choose the area for his business.

Taudte’s
            Henry Taudte lived in Baltimore and maintained a store in Severn, Maryland. His parents were German immigrants and operated a bakery in Baltimore. He met and married Severn resident Bessie Durner in 1906. In 1915, the Taudte’s moved to Odenton and opened a general store at 1355 Odenton Road where they lived while also maintaining the Severn store. According the U.S. Census for 1910, Henry Tandte [sic] was born in Maryland in 1877 and lived in the fourth election district, which would have included Odenton. The census has Henry listed as married to Bessie, with a two year old son, James. There was no record for Henry in the 1900 census.
It is not known if Henry built the building that would be their home and business or if the structure already existed. We are still researching the original construction. Research of land records has provided a deed dated October 29, 1917, in which Henry and Bessie Taudte purchased from John and May Watts lots 1, 2, and 3 of John Watts plat of Odenton. The deed does mention, “ together with the buildings and improvements”. It is not yet known if this verbiage construes that the building already existed or if it is boilerplate language.
From the Taudte’s daughter in law, Mildred, we know that the building itself originally consisted of two floors and a basement. The upper floors had bedrooms. The right side of the first floor had the living room, dining room and kitchen. The store was located on the left side of the first floor. You can still see that original layout, as the floor plan has not changed. The long counter, that every general store seemed to have, was on the left side as you entered the store. Named for the owner, Taudte’s store was of the general store model. They sold meats, dry goods-like sugar and flour, groceries, cloth, candy, and general merchandise. In addition to the people living near the store, the customers consisted of farmers and residents of Camp Meade. Even competition with the general store housed in the Murray Hotel just down the road.
Henry died on December 17, 1921. Bessie continued to operate both stores through the 1920”s with the help of her parents, James and Laura Durner. Bessie married Wilfred Boyer in 1925. The 1930 U.S. Census lists Bessie as being married to Wilfred Boyer. There is no 1930 census record for Henry Taudte, which corroborates the story that he more than likely died in the early 1920’s.
Bessie began operating rental homes along Watts Avenue [Now Becknel]. Again, we do not know if the Taudte’s built the homes or purchased existing properties. After she remarried, Bessie closed both the Severn and Odenton stores, moving with Wilfred Boyer to Baltimore.
The Taudte’s granddaughter, Tempie, who is the daughter of James and Mildred Taudte did not live in the area when she was younger and did not have much interaction with her grandparents having moved to Sarasota, Fl when she was 13. Tempie does recall that when her family visited she would help her grandmother, Bessie, collect rent from the renters of the houses next to the store.
One of those renters was the family of Suzanne Hackman. Ms. Hackman’s family moved to Odenton from Fort Eustis, Va in 1933 when her father was transferred to Camp Meade. She was ten years old at the time and remembers living in several of what she called “Taudte” houses. She doesn’t remember whom but does remember someone would collect the $10 rent from her mother every month. The Taudte’s managed several rentals and Ms. Hackman’s family moved often as better accommodations became available.
During the time Ms. Hackman lived in the Taudte houses the Brodsky’s had purchased the store. Although they did most of their shopping at the Camp Meade PX her mother would send her to Brodsky’s to get items like meat and bread. She remembered bread being ten cents a loaf and hamburger meat twenty-five cents a pound. Of course, being ten years old at the time, her biggest memory was the big glass candy case.

Rieve’s

            Another, still operating, Odenton store is Rieve’s. Rieve’s store has been an Odenton landmark since the 1920’s. We bring that store into the mix because for a short time Rieve’s also operated out of the 1355 Odenton Road location. Rieve’s operated in a building originally located just north of Academy Junction until a fire destroyed the building on unknown date in 1928 or 1929. Werner J. Rieve wrote in the Heritage Times, June 2000, “At about the same time of the fire, the Taudte building became available, and my father set up his store business there. This is the building that later became Brodsky's store and the place where my father maintained his grocery business until the early 1930s . . . Originally, I believe my father wanted to keep his place of business at the old Taudte/Brodsky (later Marucha) location… with the family expanding, the living quarters were much too small.”

In his article, Mr. Rieve also gave us a glimpse into how the area looked when the Rieve’s store first opened along Telegraph Road (Piney Orchard Parkway). He wrote that the WB&A was still very much in operation and the paved surface of Telegraph Road was nonexistent. So we have an idea of how the Odenton area looked in the 1930’s as 1355 Odenton Road was taken over by another merchant. From what is known, it is believed that 1355 Odenton road was sold to Louis Brodsky, approximately 1931.

Part 2 to follow in separate post
Building history, Part 2

To learn more about Odenton and become involved in local history please visit the Odenton Heritage Society.

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