Chevy Chase is the name of both a town and an unincorporated census-designated place that straddle the northwest border of Washington, D.C. and Montgomery County, Maryland. Several settlements in the same area of Montgomery County and one neighborhood of Washington, D.C. include “Chevy Chase” in their names. These villages, the town, and the CDP share a common history and together form a larger community colloquially referred to as “Chevy Chase”. Primarily a residential suburb, Chevy Chase adjoins Friendship Heights, a popular shopping district. It includes the National 4-H Youth Conference Center, which hosts the National Science Bowl annually in either late April or early May.
The name “Chevy Chase” is derived from “Cheivy Chace”, the name of the land patented to Colonel Joseph Belt from Charles Calvert, 5th Baron Baltimore on July 10, 1725. It has historic associations to a 1388 battle between Lord Percy of England and Earl Douglas of Scotland, the subject of the ballad entitled “The Ballad of Chevy Chase”. At issue in this “chevauchée” (a French word describing a border raid) were hunting grounds or a “chace” in the Cheviot Hills of Northumberland and Otterburn.
Before 1890, Chevy Chase was unincorporated farmland, during which time Senator Francis G. Newlands of Nevada and his partners began acquiring land in the area, for the purpose of developing a residential streetcar suburb for Washington, D.C. during the expansion of the Washington streetcars system. Newlands and his partners founded The Chevy Chase Land Company in 1890, and its holdings of more than 1,700 acres (6.9 km2) eventually extended along the present-day Connecticut Avenue from Florida Avenue north to Jones Bridge Road. The Chevy Chase Land Company built houses for $5,000 and up on Connecticut Avenue and $3,000 and up on side streets. The company banned all commerce from residential neighborhoods. Leon E. Dessez was Chevy Chase’s first resident. He and Lindley Johnson of Philadelphia designed the first four houses in the area. Lea M. Bouligny founded a school for young women at the Chevy Chase Inn (7100 Connecticut Ave). Changed name to Chevy Chase College and Seminary for Young Ladies and then again to Chevy Chase Junior College in 1927. In 1951, the National 4-H Club Foundation purchased the property. Bouligny died in 1954 and is buried in Warrenton, Fauquier County, Virginia.