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The Evolving History of the “Suburbs” of St. Michaels by Dick Cooper

A mix of 100-foot loblollies and spreading hardwoods shade the residential streets of Rio Vista and Bentley Hay, the conjoined twin neighborhoods that form the eastern and southern borders of the town of St. Michaels and provide the Victorian village with a MidCentury Modern buffer from the Miles River. On the Eastern Shore, where age is measured in centuries, the two neighborhoods that were carved out of a colonial farm after World War II are relative newcomers, marking time in mere decades. The trees, like the houses that have gradually filled the neighborhood lots over the last 70 years, are yardsticks for how quickly the past slides almost unnoticed into the present. For Betty and George Seymour and Tom Crouch, the neighborhoods are integral parts of their family histories. The Seymours live in the Rio Vista home built by his parents. They both trace their families’ histories to early Eastern Shore settlers. The land that is now Bentley Hay was Betty’s family’s farm for generations. She has filing cabinets full of local lore garnered during count-

Betty Seymour less hours of sifting through old land and legal documents, business records and yellowing news clips. Crouch, whose family also has deep roots on the Shore, grew up in Rio Vista as his father, real estate developer and builder Charles Crouch, worked hard to sell the neighborhood one lot at a time. He credits his mother, Josephine, who was instrumental in marketing the subdivision, with changing the then rather mundane name of the property from “Riverside” to the more cosmopolitan-sounding “Rio Vista.” He says she was also behind 27

September 2017 ttimes web magazine  

Tidewater Times September 2017

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