In the 1979 Baltimore County Master Plan, Owings Mills was identified as a location for a self-sustaining planned community that would provide housing, employment, and a complete range of commercial services. In 1984 the county adopted the Plan for Owings Mills, Maryland and established zoning for the growth area during the comprehensive zoning map process. The Owings Mills plan designated five separate land use areas within the growth area, one of which includes the residential area, Owings Mills New Town.

In the late 1980's, the developers’ vision for the newly designated growth area in Owings Mills included a man-made lake. When an Army Corps of Engineers study concluded the lake would have a negative environmental impact, not only did it cancel plans for the lake, it also canceled the community's original name: Lakeside. By this time the main thoroughfare had already been dedicated, and Lakeside Blvd remained.

Throughout the 1990's Owings Mills New Town took shape, now encompassing more than 3000 homes divided into 27 Home Owners Associations, a gas station, and two commercial shopping centers: New Town Village and Brookside Commons.

However the history of Owings Mills New Town dates back more than just 30 years, and the streets on which we drive everyday are named for more than just a developer's vision of a man-made lake.

In the early to mid-1700's settlers began to arrive in the Owings Mills area. One family in particular, the Owings Family, bought land in Green Spring Valley. One notable member of the Owings Family, Samuel Owings, built three mills along the Gwynn's Falls. A single millrace (sometimes referred to as a mill run - a fast moving channel of water that powered the mills) connected all three mills together. The three mills were named after their location along the millrace: 1. The Upper Mill (Upper Mill Drive) which ground flour, 2. The Middle Mill (Middle Mill Drive) which produced grist and 3. The Lower Mill (Lower Mill Drive) which ground limestone into plaster - hence the name, Owings Mills.

After some time the Upper Mill was sold to Thomas Groff (Groff's Mill Drive), and the Lower Mill was sold to Will Painter (Will Painter Drive), and the name was changed to Painter's Mills. Joseph Simonds (Simonds Drive) was the last miller to operate Painter's Mill.

Besides the Owings Family, several other prominent families took up residence in the area surrounding Owings Mills. Sherwood Farm Road and Sherwood Hill Road are named after the Sherwood family, prominent in the shipping and fuel oil business in Baltimore. Captain Richard Sherwood headed the Old Bay Line (Bay Line Cir), which ran boats from Baltimore to Virginia.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, mining was a big industry in the Owings Mills area. Ore, flint (Flint Hill Drive), gold (Gold Hill Rd, mica, and isinglass (Isinglass Rd) was extracted in and around Soldiers Delight Park. Wagons were used to transport the minerals from the park. The people who built or repaired the wagons were called Wainwrights (Wainwright Cir) and those who built or repaired the wheels were called Wheelwrights.

Some other street names simply take their names after various members of Samuel Owings's family: Bale Owings (Bale Ct), Hannah Owings (Hannah's Mill Drive), Rebecca Owings (Rebecca Ln), and Ephraim Owings (Ephraim Drive).

Owings Mills New Town may have been designed as a Planned Unit Community; however the foundations for what we all call home were planted hundreds of years ago. The original residents of New Town were hard workers; they cared about their families, and cherished the land they depended on to survive.

We are now all part of the evolving history of Owings Mills, so next time you drive through the neighborhood, take a moment to slow down and think about what Owings Mills New Town once was, and what it will grow to be.

 - Daniel E. Bralove, 2009

Sources: Speaking Of Our Past - A Narrative History of Owings Mills Maryland by Marie Forbes

Lower Mill

Lower Mill

 Middle Mill

Upper Mill