Centerway and Crescent Road
Greenbelt, Maryland

Maryland's Greenbelt was the predominant green suburb development. This was due to its close proximity to Washington, DC. Construction cost overruns undermined the implementation of the Greenhills and Greendale garden cities to some degree. Greenbelt, on the other hand, was built (pretty much) as planned.

GREENBELT CENTER was situated at the core of the new garden city. It commanded a 7.3 acre site, located 11 miles northeast of the United States Capitol. There were two main buildings in the original complex. In total area, they encompassed approximately 18,200 square feet.    

The bulk of these two structures had 1 level, with the Theatre having a basement heating plant. There were also small upper level offices in each building, as well as a freestanding Police & Fire Station / Auto Repair Garage and Co-op Service Station. When fully leased, the shopping hub housed around fourteen stores and services. 

On December 15, 1937 the first cash register ringup at the Greenbelt Co-op Food Store took place. This was followed by the beginning of business at a Co-op Variety Store, Drug Store, Barber Shop, Beauty Shop and Furniture Store. The single-screen Greenbelt Theatre showed its first feature in September 1938.

Greenbelt's Co-op Food Store proved so successful that it had to seek new quarters. A 2-level (20,000 square foot) structure was built adjacent to the GREENBELT CENTER East Building. It opened in November 1948 and was expanded in the mid-1950s (to 40,000 square feet). The building was gutted by a fire in early 1962. It was refurbished, with the Co-op Supermarket & Pharmacy re-opening in October 1962.

By 1949 Congressional decree, America's three federally-owned-and-operated green suburbs were sold to residents or to the highest bidder. In the case of Greenbelt, the main transaction closed December 31, 1952.   

GREENBELT CENTER was added to the National Register of Historic Places in November 1980. National Historic Landmark status was achieved in February 1997. Known today as ROOSEVELT CENTER, the complex, at the center of the "Old Greenbelt" historic area, houses around thirteen stores and services.


Library of Congress /Prints and Photographs Online Catalog /
Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation
"Prince George's County Historic Site Summary Sheet" / 1993
"To Make America Over; The Greenbelt Towns of the New Deal" / Julie D. Turner / Miami University term paper / 2010
"Historic American Buildings Survey: Old Greenbelt" / LaDale Curtis Winling and Sally Kress Tomkins / 2005
The Greenbelt News Review