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Admiral Heights History

The neighborhood was built on what used to be called the Dorsey farm.  The first Dorsey arrived in Maryland sometime in the 1640’s.  Because the only source of wealth for a settler was the land he owned, clear records were maintained right from the start.  They show the Dorseys owned many, many farms all over Maryland and heavily populated the area even­tually registered as Anne Arundel County.

In 1621, King James granted Sir George Calvert of Yorkshire 2,300 acres of land in County Longford, Ireland.  These holdings became the Barony of Baltimore when Calvert was created Baron Baltimore in 1625 (The barony is not to be con­fused with the village of Baltimore County Cork).  He died in 1632, just two months before King Charles formally granted him Maryland's charter for 7 million acres of land in the New World (a little over 100 by 100 miles).  His son, Cecilius, took over and dispatched the first colonists to Maryland in 1634.

The first settlers arrived in our area in the winter of 1649-50.  They were Puritans and Independents that disagreed with the then Governor of Virginia.  The County was formally organized in the summer of 1650, named to honor Lady Anne Arundell, wife of Cecilius Calvert and the daughter of Sir Thomas Arundell, 1st Baron Arundell of Wardour.  George Calvert had named Maryland in honor of Queen Henrietta Maria, the French wife of King Charles.  

Following the custom of the times, the Dorseys named their farms as they pleased.  One can only speculate on the whimsy that prompted some of their choices: The 11th Hour, Wet Weather, Patient's Trouble, Dispute Ended, Pillaged Land.

A latter day Dorsey bequeathed to St. John's College a 400-acre tobacco farm on the edge of the City of Annapolis and 10 houses within the Historic District.  In 1937, Charles Steffey's real estate company, Reliable Homes, bought these properties from St. John's.  In 1942, Steffey sold 80 acres of the farm to the Naval Academy Athletic Association for $80,000, the future site of the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. World War II delayed work on the sta­dium until 1956, when graduates of the Academy raised $1.2 million from private assets.  Construction was completed in 1958.

Charles Steffey decided to develop the remaining 320 acres and sent his son, Jack, to oversee the project. Jack moved to Annapolis in 1950, and still lives here. By 1951, he had persuaded the City of Annapolis to annex the land from the County, which solved the problem of how to acquire water and sewerage.

Jack named the area Admiral Heights, sub­divided the nearly two miles of pristine waterfront and adjacent acreage and named the streets after U.S. Navy Admirals, except for a large plot he kept for himself, known as Steffan Point, off Williams Drive.  The area was broken into lots 30 feet wide by 135 deep, a fraction over one-fifth of an acre.  The minimum allow­able purchase was two lots, and early buyers bought a package: land with the house.

Charles H. Steffey, Inc. of Baltimore was the marketing agent and Bob Sears was persuaded to leave Nationwide Insurance to be the local sales manager.  Jack put Ed North on the payroll as architect for the house designs.  Jack also creat­ed Lexington Construction Corp., which built the homes; outside builders were not allowed.

In the beginning, there were five single-­story designs that allowed for certain modifications.  The basic house was 1,200 square feet.  This included three bedrooms, one-and-a-half baths, living room with fireplace, separate din­ing room, kitchen, full basement and carport.

According to Jack Steffey, Lexington Corp. built all the houses in Admiral Heights except those on Porter Drive, which were factory-built by National Homes and installed by Lexington.  If you could afford it, you could build more than a l,200-square foot house on a double lot.

The earliest lots cost $600 each and the houses cost $13,000, plus extra for modifications. Sales began in 1951, and the last few homes were built around 1971 or 1972. Financing was available through the FHS and VA, plus conventional financing by Century Savings & Loan and AETNA. 

The first lot was sold to Bob Sears, who put up a small bungalow.  In 1950, Jack Steffey built an 800-square-foot house on Steffan Point for himself, with a one-and-half mile road out to the house.

The five acres of land belonging to the Admiral Heights Swim Club were donated by Jack Steffey.  Myron Gordon, who lived on Sumner Road,headed a group of volunteers who went door to door to raise money for construction of the pool.  We believe this happened in 1957.

Jack could be very liberal with financing. Herb Taylor says that in 1954 he told Jack he could not afford $1,200 for the obligatory two lots.  Jack asked if he could afford to pay $15 a month.  Herb agreed, sold his house on the other side of Annapolis, and Jack's construction firm began building his present house at 28 Williams Drive.

Today, Admiral Heights has about 600 homes and is commonly called an “Established Community” in Annapolis.

Mike Kubacheck unearthed these advertisements for new homes in Admiral Heights from the Baltimore Sun:

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