It’s possible to live your entire life in Severna Park or Pasadena and never know about Riverdale on the Magothy, the quiet community northeast of Old Man Creek and Tar Hill Cove. For the residents, some of whom who have lived in this community for generations, being off the beaten path is exactly how they like it.
Take a right turn off northbound Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard just before the intersection of Magothy Bridge Road and you’ll find Riverdale on the Magothy. Established in the 1940s, this community doesn’t boast flashy amenities because it doesn’t have to; it’s home to some of the most gorgeous waterfront property in the area. Homes don’t last long on the market, if they make it to a listing at all.
Situated west of the Magothy, Riverdale is within the Severna Park zip code; however, it’s zoned for the Chesapeake cluster of public schools, including the coveted Blue-Ribbon Pasadena Elementary School. With easy access to all that Severna Park and Pasadena have to offer, these homeowners have the best of both worlds, all within a short drive. Riverdale is only minutes from Beachwood Park, a natural and historic gem on the shores of the upper Magothy River. Lake Waterford Park is also close.
The residents hold community yard sales, beach cleanups and cookouts at the community beach. The neighborhood is safe for animals and children.
Resident for Four Years
Tim Abell and his wife, both native Washingtonians, moved to Riverdale nearly four years ago from Laurel, Maryland, to become “river people.” After visiting about 100 homes on various rivers in Anne Arundel County, the couple chose their Riverdale on the Magothy home because of the elevational feature of their property in relation to the river, the number of no-wake zones on the river, and the traffic flow to their Laurel-based business.
“This community is unique because of the eclectic mix of homes and personalities,” Abell said. “We have a diverse mix of lifestyles, income levels and interests. If we ever need anything in the way of help, knowledge or friendship, Riverdale residents have it covered. We have helicopter pilots to master mechanics to real estate appraisers!”
In his short four years in the community, Abell has become part of a resurgent homeowners association. While the group maintains a waterfront lot with a small sitting area, residents are eager to have more seasonal get-togethers. Abell is part of a group of neighbors putting together the historical story of the Riverdale on the Magothy Community Association.
With the community perfectly situated between Severna Park and Pasadena, Abell said it’s the “little things like [this] local newspaper, our very active church, a couple good restaurants, and plenty of hangout pubs and restaurants to watch sporting events that make our community so special.”
The Abells are involved with several St. John the Evangelist activities and other charities in the greater Baltimore-Washington area.
“My parents, Leaston and Rose Booker, purchased property in 1958 and built a house on Dundee Road,” said Sue Robey. “At the time, the neighborhood was all dirt roads, and there were not many houses. My grandfather purchased property next to my parents and he built a house in 1970. When he passed away, my parents sold their house and moved into my grandparent’s house because it was larger and my grandmother did not want to live alone.”
In 1985, Robey and her husband built a house on the property next door. When her parents retired in 1990 and moved to Florida, Robey’s brother and his wife bought their parents’ house, so the siblings’ children have grown up together and mark four generations in Riverdale on the Magothy.
“I like that it is a smaller community. Everyone is friendly and very helpful to their neighbors,” Robey said. “There are a lot of families that have been here since I was a kid, and neighbors that have grown up here have come back.”
One fun aspect about multiple generations in one neighborhood is that families attend the same schools.
“[Pasadena Elementary] is a wonderful school. My father, my brother and I, and also my two boys, went there,” Robey added. “Two of my grandchildren are going there. My son and his wife bought a house in the Pasadena Elementary school district specifically for that school.”
As for her neighbors who she’s not related to, Robey said everyone is friendly, helpful and respectful.
“When we have had large snow storms, the neighbors have looked out for each other with snow plows and just friendly conversation,” she said.
Thomas Hampton’s father grew up in South Baltimore and purchased lots in Riverdale in 1948. Family interest in waterfront was spurred by an uncle who owned property on Stoney Creek.
“My dad started building a small house shortly thereafter, doing the majority of work himself,” Hampton said. “My mother’s family had owned a property on the Magothy in the 1930s, directly across from the Riverdale restaurant, known as Town Hall in those days. My parents married in 1952 and began living in Riverdale, immediately. I came along in December 1953.”
Though Riverdale is the demarcation zone between Severna Park and Pasadena, between the Magothy’s north and south shores, Hampton said “old-timers still standing all went to Severna Park High School, but our kids mostly went to Chesapeake. Some might view that as choice between one or the other. I have always felt a part of both.”
Hampton also remembers many years ago being on a flight home into BWI Marshall Airport on a sunny day with the Magothy and Chesapeake Bay waters sparkling off the side of the airplane.
“Some out-of-town folks were marveling at how beautiful that was and how great it would be to live someplace like it,” Hampton said. “Today we teeter on the brink of declining quality of life. I hope my daughters’ kids will know at least some of the magic of Magothy life the way I remember it.”
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