Highland and Clarksville project an air of bucolic, genteel ease that only money can provide. But beneath their serene facade a revolutionary fervor has burned.
These two small rural communities began as collections of shops located on the corners of busy 18th- and 19th-century intersections. Highland was founded in 1759 where what now is Route 108 meets Route 126. Nearly a century later and two miles to the north, Clarksville sprang up at the intersection of Routes 108 and 32.
Howard County has the second-highest income per capita of any county in the U.S. (second only to Virginia’s Loudon County), and the unincorporated communities of Highland and Clarksville are among the wealthiest areas of this wealthy county. The two unincorporated communities are dotted with horse farms and country estates.
The predominantly single-family homes typically sell for about $750,000. About two-thirds of the area’s residents are white and roughly one-quarter are Asian American.
Here, you’ll find such sites as the former Hickory Ridge and Montrose plantations and Richland Farm, which has remained in the same family for more than 300 years and eight generations. All three were maintained by enslaved people.
One of the area’s most colorful forefathers was Dr. Charles Alexander Warfield, who bequeathed the former 510-acre Paternal Gift Farm in Highland to his son. Warfield was among the leaders of the so-called Annapolis Tea Party of 1774, which culminated in the burning of the brigantine Peggy Stewart for attempting to bring tea into Annapolis Harbor.
During the American Civil War, Well’s Tavern in Highland (now a pet boarding and grooming business) was the main gathering place for the area’s Northern sympathizers.
Perhaps not surprising given the communities’ agrarian past, home and business owners tend to be environmentally conscious.
Today, local residents meet at Clarksville Commons, an environmentally sustainable complex of offices, shops and restaurants with a green roof, outdoor fire pits, solar panels and a rain garden.
Or they stroll through the 1,021-acre Middle Patuxent Environmental Area — the largest parkland in Howard County — and enjoy the company of the approximately 150 species of birds and 40 species of mammals that also make Clarksville and Highland their homes.