Old Town Bowie Welcome Center. Adaptive reuse of the Bowie Building Association built in 1929.
I had not been to Bowie, Maryland in quite some time. Researching various regional sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places, I noted one was the "Bowie Railroad Buildings". It was a collection of railway structures that had been important to Bowie's development--an interlocking tower, a small combination freight/passenger stationm and a waiting shelter. They had been brought togerth and restored to form the Huntington Railroad Museum. On a sunny Saurday after a cold and dreary March, I decided to investigate further.
Old Town Bowie is located right on the Amtrak Northeast Corridor between Washington, DC, and Baltimore.
Huntington Community Center (Bowie School of 1912)
It owes its founding in 1870 to the railroad as this was the place the newly built Baltimore & Potomac Railroad divided its line from Baltimore into one that continued to Washington, DC, and one that continued into southern Maryland. The new town was called Huntington, in honor of railroad magnate Collis P. Huntington. (Whose railroads did not come to this location. I suppose he was a celebirty of the time.) It later changed its name to Bowie, after Baltimore & Potomac president Oden Bowie. (Another town up the line was similarly named Odenton after him.)
It was easy to find the museum, named for the original name of the town. Opening the door of the passeger station, I met the musuem's docent, James. He was a very enthusiastic fellow. Did I like to take pictures, he asked, seeing my camera.
Charis Center for the Arts (former St. James Episcopal Church)
Certainly, I replied. So, he showed me the best spots for photographing Amtrak trains plying the Northeast Corridor. After that, he showed me the musuem displays inside the station and took me up inside the inerlocking tower for the view. More exhibits were up there. The tower once controlled the track switches (points) connecting the Northeast Corridor Main Line and the Popes Creek Branch. (This is now controlled remotely from Philadelphia.)
I could tell there was more to be seen in Old Town Bowie. Nearby was the Visitor Center in an old bank building. The docent there expressed surprise that anyone from out-of-town would stop by on the Saturday before Easter! Nevertheless, here I was. Exhibits here wer sparse. I did learn of Belair, a nearby 18th century Georgian mansion that was open for tours.
Knights of St. John Hall (1907)
I'd save that historic house for when Susan could come along. I asked teh docent if there was information about the houses and buildings inthe old town area. He said there had been a walking tour leaflet, but it was out of stock and the town had no plans to reprint it! :( Well, I could see I'd have to wing it.
I did find several interesting structures. The restuarant next door, where I had lunch, had been the Odd Fellows Hall and then a cinema. A wooden Carpenter Gothic church was now an ats center. The old schoolhouse had become a communty center. A lot of adaptive reuse in this town! Most interesting was the 1907 Knights of St. John Hall. (The Knights of St. John were an African-American men's Catholic fraternal organizaton.) Amid all were many antique stores. Bowie began to make me think of Occoquan, Virginia, though not yet as quaint as that locale.
Bowie Sights & Attractions review
Three Vintage Railway Structures
The Bowie Railroad Station Museum (also known as the Huntington Railroad Museum) presents a look at Bowie, Maryland, through its railway heritage. The… read entire review
Bowie Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
The Place in Old Town Bowie
When I asked at the railroad museum where to have lunch, the nearby Old Bowie Town Grill was the answer. A good recommendation.
The decor is dark w… read entire review