By Judy Tacyn
For many Severna Park residents, the neighborhoods off McKinsey Road are known as little more than “that area behind Giant,” and that’s just the way those who live between Route 2 and the Magothy River, such as Cape Arthur residents, like it. The community is anything but cookie-cutter and boasts one of the most spectacular beaches in all of Severna Park.
For a “typical suburban development,” Cape Arthur has some unique history. Cape Arthur was founded by Arthur and Lydia Giddings, who moved to the United States from Wiltshire, England, in 1925. Starting in 1948, the couple began purchasing tracts of land along the Magothy River, and eventually subdivided the land into 213 lots, known today as Cape Arthur.
In addition to the home lots, several open spaces were deliberately left to be developed as shared community spaces, including the Lydia Giddings Memorial Playground and Park at the center of the community. Here, children congregate for fun and play tennis, basketball, soccer and lacrosse.
The annual fall festival, the Easter egg hunt, and the judging for the neighborhood Fourth of July bike parade all take place on this shared open and public treasure. On Halloween, a giant bonfire in the center of the park brings together all neighbors. It is telling that this playground was not a byproduct of zoning laws or stormwater management requirements but rather a conscious decision by the developers that public gathering spaces are critical and valuable components to well-designed communities.
The jewel in the Cape Arthur crown is its spectacular and expansive beach, known as Arundel Beach. From this popular gathering point, residents enjoy a perfect view of North Ferry Point to the east, Magothy Marina in Manhattan Beach to the south, and Stony Point in Arnold to the southeast. Sitting at the point where Cypress Creek enters the Magothy River, the beach is a gathering place for neighbors to grill, boat, crab, or just catch some sun while their kids are swimming. Between the long pier and the cove, there are slips for more than 40 boats. Kayak racks on the beach provide additional storage.
Mary and Jim Patz
Residents for 16 Years
“With three children under 2 years of age, we were suddenly outgrowing our rowhouse in South Baltimore,” Mary Patz said. “Our preference was to move south to Anne Arundel County to avoid becoming part-time residents of the Baltimore Beltway. Looking at public schools, Severna Park seemed desirable.”
Mary and her husband, Jim, looked at a house for sale in Cape Arthur without knowing much about Severna Park.
“The house was nice, but the Cape Arthur beach blew us away,” Mary said. “We walked down to the beach and were amazed by the beauty of it; the views, the opportunities to swim, kayak, and boat are all right around the corner. In 2003, houses in Severna Park were being snapped up often before they hit the market. When we didn’t get that first house, we kept looking but with the stipulation that our new home be in Cape Arthur.”
The Patz children attended Folger McKinsey Elementary School, which is an easy walk for many of the school’s students.
“The school was named for one of Cape Arthur’s most famous residents,” Mary said. “Also known as the Bentztown bard, Folger McKinsey was a poet and columnist who wrote a daily column titled ‘Good Morning’ for the Baltimore Sun from 1906 to 1942. He lived in Magothy Hall, a red brick structure adjacent to the neighborhood beach, from 1906 to 1914. Of course, this was long before the neighborhood’s development, so one might imagine a mile-long dirt road that led from the Baltimore Annapolis Road to the residence on the Magothy.”
Brian and Deanna Johnson
Residents for 12 Years
Brian and Deanna Johnson came to the area after Deanna remarked during her pregnancy that she wanted to raise their kids closer to family.
“I was totally content with life in the Pacific Northwest, a nice position at Microsoft and close proximity to Puget Sound and thus said ‘no’ to her offer,” Brian Johnson said. “So, we compromised and moved anyway.”
Deanna flew to Maryland first to house-hunt and stumbled upon Cape Arthur with its great beach with stunning views of the Magothy River and the Chesapeake Bay.
“I wouldn't hesitate to recommend my neighborhood to a friend,” said Brian. “Houses don’t stay on the market very long in Cape Arthur.”
Brian is currently the president and beach chair of Cape Arthur. Deanna organizes the fall festival, helps orchestrate the Christmas party and neighborhood get-togethers, and competes in the peninsula Olympics.
“There is a high level of volunteering among Cape Arthur residents,” Brian added. “This says volumes to our desire to always make this neighborhood better.”
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