The Old House - A Family Memory in Riverdale, Maryland

The Old House in Riverdale
The Old House in Riverdale - about 1940

The Granados family occupied a house in Riverdale, Maryland (now known as Riverdale Park) from 1917 until it was razed in the 1960s. In our family, it was always referred to as "the Old House."

The Old House (from what I'm told by relatives) stood about a block or so east of what is now Kenilworth Ave and Riverdale Road behind that strip mall that had Patrick's Drug Store in it.

Ramón Granados, a Spanish immigrant running the Spanish School in Washington DC bought it around 1917 He settled in it with his wife, Maria Concepcion, and their seven children. Four more children came after that, all born in this house. My grandfather, Luís, was the eldest.

In 1927, Luís married a Riverdale girl - Anne Waters. Her father was the Mayor for a few terms and her mother was a local music teacher. Anne was born in the grey stucco house at the corner of Riverdale and Taylor Roads. My mother and uncle were born in the same house, in the same bedroom some twenty years later.

In 1930 my great-grandmother, Maria died, and sometime after that my grandfather, Luís moved into the Old House with his young family (this included my mother, Anita) to help his widowed father Ramón who still had minor children to raise.

My mother grew up in the Old House with her five siblings and my grandparents continued to live there after their children were grown and gone. I remember my grandmother recalling how Granddaddy walked that porched - back and forth - when he was waiting for his daughters to come home. That porch was the setting for many family photos.

Ramon and Maria's Children on the Porch of The Old House. Luis (my grandfather is tall one in the center)
Back row: Connie, Luis, Rose
Sitting: Clara, Mary, Ramon Jr

In the early 1960s progress and development took over and the Old House was razed to make way for an apartment building (which still occupies the site).

My grandfather had purchased a small waterfront lot on the Patuxent River in St. Mary's County where he had plans to slowly build his retirement home. When the Old House was razed, they moved into an apartment across Kenilworth Avenue to wait out retirement and build their new home.

Granddaddy took every salvageable thing out of the Old House - including radiators, trim, doors and part of the old wooden banister with its newel post. Little by little he added them to his retirement home project in Southern Maryland.

When they finally moved permanently to their waterfront home, they named the new house "Riverdale." They even had a silver coin engraved with "Riverdale 1963" pressed into the transplanted newel post.

Anne Waters and Luis Granados on their wedding day August 1927

My grandparents met in Riverdale, married in Riverdale, raised their children in Riverdale and watched many of their 30 grandchildren grow up in Riverdale. My cousins and I agree, that some of our best childhood memories were visiting our grandparents at the new house - "Riverdale" - on the River in St. Mary's County. Luís and Anne lived there with their memories of Riverdale until their deaths in the 1990s.

Luis and Anne and their six children in the yard of the Old House
Standing L to R: Joe, Bob, Luis II, Fran (arms crossed)
Sitting: Anne, Luis with hand on daughter, Maria (aka Chi-chi), Anita (my mother - stripes)

My mother continued to live in Riverdale until she was too old to care for herself. And though I moved to Howard County as an adult, I still have a little piece of the Old House in Riverdale ... stones that used to line my great-grandfather's garden.

Evidently, Ramón had a garden at the Old House. It was lined with large rocks about the size of soccer balls he'd gathered from around the Anacostia River. They stayed in place there until the Old House was abandoned. My brother relocated some of those stones to my mother's front garden at her house in Riverdale Woods.

When my mother finally sold her house in the 1990s, I made my way over there on the night before the settlement and loaded up those stones. They now line my front garden in Marion Station on the Eastern Shore.


  1. Mindie, thanks for sharing your family memories, somehow it strengthens the bonds of our friendship. Take care my friend.


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