Upper Marlboro, MD
Upper Marlboro is a town in and the county seat of Prince George's County, Maryland, United States. The population within the town limits was 631 at the 2010 census, although Greater Upper Marlboro is many times larger. The area of Upper Marlboro was first settled around 1695. It was named after John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, an ancestor of Winston Churchill. The land, which was to become the town, was part of several estates known as Grove Landing, Meadows, and Darnall's Chance, owned by the Brooke, Beall, and Darnall families, respectively.
Darnall's Chance, also known as the Buck House, was built between 1694 and 1712. The house can still be found across from the present-day County Administration Building on Gov. Oden Bowie Drive. It was owned by the Darnall and Carroll families. The home may have been the birthplace of Daniel Carroll, a signer of the US Constitution, and his brother, John Carroll, the first bishop of the Roman Catholic Church in America.
In 1706, Marlborough Town was established as a port town by the Act for the Advancement of Trade and Erecting Ports and Towns. It was declared that the town would be constructed, "at the upper landing on the Western Branch, commonly called Colonel Belt's landing." County surveyor Thomas Truman Greenfield conducted a survey of 100 acres (0.40 km2) of the three estates from which the town would be formed. Streets, alleys, a meetinghouse, lots for small businesses, and 100 lots to be used for homes were laid out. Earliest plans showed the town being laid out in a grid pattern with an L shape.
Residents of the area were not happy with Greenfield's initial layout and petitioned the General Assembly to have the town replatted. In 1744, the new survey was approved and the town was given a new name, Upper Marlborough. Upper was added to distinguish the town from the community of Marlboro (now known as Lower Marlboro) in Calvert County. Early in its life, when the western branch of the Patuxent River was still navigable, the town served as a port town for tobacco ships. The town blossomed into an agricultural, social, and political hot spot. Farms, many of which raised tobacco, dominated the surrounding areas.
In 1721, a courthouse was constructed in the town. The county seat was then moved from Charles Town, on the banks of the Patuxent, to Upper Marlborough. The courthouse was built with money from a 12 pound tobacco tax imposed on county inhabitants. One of the first laws passed at the courthouse was the Public School Act, which established a public school system.
During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, many prominent merchants, lawyers, and politicians lived and worked in the area. Horse racing came to the town around the mid-18th century and attracted many people from the surrounding areas. The Maryland Jockey Club sponsored spring and summer races at the race track south of town, and racing continued there until 1972, when they were moved to the Bowie Race Track. The race track is now part of the Equestrian Center owned by Prince George's County. In 1870, the town was incorporated by the Maryland General Assembly. A volunteer fire department was organized in 1886, and the Marlborough Fire Association was incorporated the following year.
In the late 19th century, the town's name changed from Upper Marlborough to Upper Marlboro. The name change is linked to a postal clerk who felt the extra letters, “ugh,” didn’t properly fit on the rubber stamps being used at the time. By 1893, postal guides were referring to the town as Upper Marlboro and the name stuck, despite a proposed ballot to have it changed back in 1968.
Since its initial conception the town has changed quite a bit. It initially boomed as a port town for tobacco trade, but the clearing and cultivation of land for farming would lead to erosion in the area. Over the years this erosion caused sedimentation, leading the Western Branch to become unnavigable. The fields of tobacco that once dominated the area have been converted over to residential developments, with the number of farms dwindling each year.
Today, the town is still the governing center of Prince George's County. Located within the town are the Prince George's County Courthouse, County Administration Building, and the Board of Education. The town's atmosphere is remarkably different, depending on the time of day. During the day, people from all across the county flock in for court hearings and government affairs, but in the evening, the town is pretty much empty.
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As of the census of 2000, there were 648 people, 292 households, and 165 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,586.7 people per square mile (610.2/km²). There were 309 housing units at an average density of 756.6 per square mile (291.0/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 51.54% White, 45.06% African American, 0.46% Native American, 1.08% Asian, 0.15% from other races, and 1.70% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.54% of the population.
There were 292 households out of which 31.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 29.5% were married couples living together, 22.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.2% were non-families. 34.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.21 and the average family size was 2.86.
In the town the population was spread out with 23.9% under the age of 18, 6.9% from 18 to 24, 36.3% from 25 to 44, 23.1% from 45 to 64, and 9.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 72.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 75.4 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $52,813, and the median income for a family was $58,542. Males had a median income of $42,639 versus $39,000 for females. The per capita income for the town was $28,892. About 1.3% of families and 1.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including none of those under age 18 and 4.0% of those age 65 or over.
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Upper Marlboro has many rural, pastoral features, including horse farms, it is surrounded by encroaching housing developments and is the daytime county seat of Prince George's County, a large urban and suburban area of some 850,000 people adjacent to Washington, D.C. U.S. Highway 301 and Maryland Route 4 intersect at the edge of town. Major features of the town include the courthouse, jail, county office building, board of education, and a lake with walking path.
Just to the south of town is the Prince George's Equestrian Center which is the location of the annual county fair, a major annual antiques show and the Show Place Arena on the former Marlboro racetrack grounds. This arena is used for events such as hockey games, circuses, rodeos, conventions, trade shows, and graduation ceremonies of many regional high schools, as well as daily overflow parking for county governmental employees, jurors, and visitors.
In earlier times the town was a tobacco auction market, before tobacco farming nearly disappeared in Maryland. On November 3, 2004, a major fire badly damaged the roof and interior of the court house. Except for supermarkets, an Amish market, car dealers, and a Home Depot, all outside of town, the town and surrounding area have only minimal shopping; therefore, residents must travel to Bowie, Clinton, Brandywine, Waldorf, or Forestville to find department stores.
Marlborough Day is the annual Festival held in the historic town of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, on the Saturday before Mother's Day.
Marlborough Day is a street festival with things for all ages; kick off with a parade at 10am and continue through the day with live music, dance and martial arts performances, clowns and magicians, a moon bounce, library book sale, an animal show, arts and crafts vendors for last-minute Mother's Day gifts, information booths from government and non-profits and lots of great food.