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Door To Door: Kent Island, Md. And Columbia Heights, D.C.

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Richard Dubeshter (left) is the treasurer of the North Columbia Heights Civic Association. William Ericson Denny III (right) is a resident of Kent Island, one of the oldest English settlements in Maryland.
Kayla Peeples, John Hines
Richard Dubeshter (left) is the treasurer of the North Columbia Heights Civic Association. William Ericson Denny III (right) is a resident of Kent Island, one of the oldest English settlements in Maryland.

It's our weekly trip around the region. This time, we'll visit Maryland's Kent Island and the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Northwest D.C.

Kent Island, Md.

Kent Island is one of the oldest English settlements in Maryland. And according to 81-year-old William Ericson Denny III, who lives in the island's community of Stevensville, says that William Claiborne settled it in 1634.

"He actually called it the Isle of Kent, because he came from Kent, England."

Denny says that the island's history, located in the Chesapeake Bay at the foot of the Bay Bridge, is just one of the facets people flock to. "Some people are interested in going swimming in Ocean City or Rehobeth," he says. "But you can do the same thing right here on Kent Island."

And even though the island has witnessed a lot of history, it also sees a lot of change.

"In the wintertime you have a lot of geese, and a lot of Canadian geese, a lot of snow geese," he says. "And they stay here all winter and go back when the temperature changes."

Denny believes the island's change is its charm.

"You're looking at a changing part of nature," he says. "And that's what makes it so beautiful because your pictures of Kent Island change every hour or half hour and to me that's wonderful."

Columbia Heights

A decade ago, Columbia Heights was filled with vacant lots and bare businesses. Once considered an underdeveloped neighborhood, it's now one of D.C.'s most diverse and popular communities.

Located in northwest D.C., bordered between 16th Street and Sherman Avenue, Columbia Heights is "right square in the middle of the city," says North Columbia Heights Civic Association Treasurer Richard Dubeshter.

What is now seen as a community with a variety of faces was a large Jewish and African American community 30 years ago. At the time Richard moved into the neighborhood in 2001, he was one of the few white people around.

He talks about a time when neither UPS and FedEx deliveries, nor a cab from the airport came to the neighborhood. Now it is home to the only Target in D.C.

"The kinds of changes I've seen are that there are amenities," he says. "That there's dry cleaning kinds of options, food stores kind of options, bakeries kind of options, coffee shops kind of options. The things I would probably frequent and other folks frequent."

Richard loves the homey feeling that stores like Arthur's give Columbia Heights and neighborhood festivities, like their annual block party in August.

There are "happening" things in Columbia Heights, and according to Richard, it's "a fabulous place to live."

[Music: "No, Girl" by John Davis from Title Tracks / "Let's Get Together" by Duke Ellington from Swing & Jazz Essentials]

Explore previously featured neighborhoods on our Door to Door map:

This map shows previous Door to Door segments, and includes links to photos and show audio. The yellow marker represents neighborhoods featured in Washington, D.C., the blue represents neighborhoods in Maryland, and the red represents neighborhoods in Virginia.


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