Some 15 miles south of Annapolis lies Galesville, a quiet country village with aspirations of staying that way.
Here's where people know your pets' names and your children's whereabouts. With no mail delivery for the 500 or so residents, the village post office and nearby businesses are gathering places, especially as the weather warms. Galesville occupies 660 acres, just over a square mile, a peninsula enveloped by Tenthouse and Lerch creeks and West River.
"My husband and I like to walk down to the water and see if we can see the Bay Bridge," said Adrianne Day, who moved there with her family seven years ago for a love of the water, village life and the Saturday morning strolls.
The village has 22 historic spots, noted in a self-guided tour brochure prepared by the Galesville Heritage Society in hopes of luring visitors. Founded in 1652, Galesville has a past tied to the water that yielded oysters, tied to the soil that yielded tobacco, and tied to the families who started businesses and stayed: Dixon, Hartge, Smith, Woodfield. Hartge's Yacht Yard, established in 1879 and still family-operated, is the oldest business of its kind in the Chesapeake Bay region. The village has four cemeteries, including a historic Quaker Burying Ground, and it was the site of the first general meeting of Quakers in what is now Maryland. Close by lies the field of the Hot Sox, the African-American baseball team that played Negro League greats.
Changing ways of life mean that Native American canoes, watermen's skipjacks and steamboats have been largely replaced by kayaks and recreational boats.
A 12-year tradition of big July 4th pyrotechnics in the tiny town ended with the 2006 display: Galesville was too overwhelmed by visitors. Like last year, this year the Galesville Heritage Society is planning a picnic for the day, with old-fashioned games, said Roberta Cassard, its president.
Housing stock // Galesville has more than 200 homes of varying sizes, shapes and ages, some from the 1800s and early 1900s, kept within families for generations. New homes dot the community. Nearly all are owner-occupied year-round; a few rentals are available. In a nod to the now-gone oyster houses, some driveways are made of shells.
Crime // There's very little crime, according to Anne Arundel County police statistics; what little takes place is mostly minor property crimes.
Shopping // Three antiques shops and an art gallery are in Galesville. Shopping lines nearby Route 2, from Edgewater to Annapolis, which has the Westfield Shoppingtown Annapolis mall. The South River Colony Shopping Center and the Annapolis Harbour Center are among Edgewater's shopping meccas.
Kids and schools // Public school pupils attend Lothian Elementary, where state assessment results in reading and math were near the state average, followed by Southern Middle, where test scores were a bit above the state average. At Southern High, the percentage of students passing algebra, biology, English and government was above the state average. One former school in Galesville has become the Carrie Weedon Science Center. Another, the former Rosenwald School for black students, has a national historic designation and is being refurbished as a community center, said Gertrude Makell, president of the community center's organization.
Transportation // Galesville is easily negotiable by foot and bicycle. In this area of winding two-lane rural roads, people go by car. Route 2, U.S. 301 and U.S. 50 are a short drive away. A South County connector bus between Edgewater and Deale stops in Galesville. Some communities, such as Shady Side, are easily reached by boat.
Dining in // Last year, the closing of the West River Market and a fire at a High's Dairy Store cost Galesville most of its convenience shopping. Construction is underway to rebuild High's; close to the water, HomePort Wine & Spirits also sells coffee, munchies and the locally made West River Market pies that are the stuff of legend. For supermarkets, residents typically head a few miles to Edgewater. Growing season features produce at roadside stands.
Dining out // Galesville has three restaurants with bars: Topside has water views; Pirates Cove and Thursdays are on the West River, accessible by boat.
Nightlife // For movies and entertainment, residents turn to Edgewater and Annapolis, and further to Baltimore, Bowie and Calvert County. But they patronize their local establishments. Especially on summer weekends when visitors and boaters descend, those places are busy.
Recreation // In a town that's a few feet above sea level with several hundred boat slips, everything water-oriented is big. Fishing and crabbing, especially at the community pier, are popular. The West River Sailing Club, which started in 1930 in Shady Side as OODYC (Our Own Damn Yacht Club) and moved to Galesville a few years later, holds regattas.
On land, tennis courts in the hamlet are well-used. The West River Improvement Association, which includes the surrounding area, owns the circa 1914 Galesville Memorial Hall, where it sponsors movie nights, dinners and such.