A Reading Tour: History Of 4 Riggs Avenue

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Members of the Severna Park Museum Inc. are sharing their memories of historical landmarks around Severna Park in a limited six-part series.

Thousands of cars travel down Evergreen Road every day and make a slight left onto Riggs Avenue. They pass Severna Park Elementary School on the left, Holly Avenue and the Chamber of Commerce on the right, and then head down to the heart of Severna Park.

While traveling on Riggs Avenue, did you ever notice the blue Antique Marketplace building with dozens of curiosities and pieces of furniture sitting outside? A separate, but connected, part of the building is currently an office space, adorned with brown stone on the bottom floor and white wooden siding on the top level. You may not know it, but this building has quite a history.

Julius Grotzky bought the property in 1908 and built a four-story structure on it. He opened a store on the lower level, selling groceries. Before moving to the railroad station across the street, this was also the location of the town’s first post office.

Severna Park historian Scott Jay remembers the stories he was told. “Every morning, children from Severna Park Elementary School would walk down the street and bring two buckets to Grotzky’s store,” Jay said. “Mr. Grotzky would fill the buckets with water – one was for washing and one was for drinking. All of the students and even the teachers used the same buckets.”

Around 1922, Dr. John Codd, a local pharmacist, started Boone Drug. “John was the go-to guy for most all ailments," Jay noted. “He would even pull a bad tooth for you if the situation called for it.”

After Dr. Codd passed away in 1944, the business changed hands and Cliff Dawson started a variety store. Dawson’s was the hub of Severna Park. Mr. Dawson sold ice cream, drugs and alcohol. After six years, Dawson moved his store down the hill to the corner of B&A Boulevard and McKinsey Road – where it stands today.

Several small shops would come and go during the 1950s and 1960s. “My mother leased a space in the building from 1958 through 1959,” Jay said. “It was called the Terry Jay Country Store. The shops reflected what the town needed at the time.”

In August 1973, the top floor of the building caught fire while tenants were living there. “The tenants said that they were awakened by their small white poodle named Sue Jay barking at the fire,” Jay recalled. “Unfortunately, the dog died in the fire, but the owners made it out of the burning building safely. They were very lucky that night.”

The building is currently occupied by an Antique Marketplace and several professional offices. As you head toward the center of Severna Park and you pass 4 Riggs Avenue, be reminded that this location has a rich history and is a cornerstone of our town.

Severna Park Museum Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-stock corporation sponsored by the Winkelmeyer family. Donations are welcome at 528 Melrose Lane.

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