College Avenue appears in this excerpt from T.M. Fowler’s Bird’s Eye View of Chestertown published in 1907. Source: Library of Congress.

This Week’s Kent County History Quiz Question: When was Gibson Avenue closed?

A. 1978
B. 1988
C. 1998
D. None of the Above

Answer: B. 1988

Town and gown have long used College Avenue, which bisected the college campus — academics, administration, and housing on one side and the sports fields on the other. College Avenue is shown on T.M. Fowler’s Bird’s Eye View of Chestertown published in 1907.

Gibson Avenue became part of the road system through Washington College in 1981 when that leg of College Avenue that passed through the college campus from Campus Avenue to Washington Avenue was renamed Gibson Avenue.

The name change honored Daniel Zachary Gibson (1908-1984), President of the College for twenty years–from 1950-1970–when he resigned because of failing health. During his tenure he declined early on to support a football team, but according to the Washington Post, over his twenty years’ tenure, “the college campus, faculty, and endowment doubled in size.” The enrollment was said to have grown from 328-800. (Fred W. Dumschott, 1980.)

Feature Image: Excerpt from the Sanborn Insurance Map of 1915. Source: Library of Congress.

In 1984, the town council resolved to close Gibson Avenue at the request of Washington College. In the Chronological History of Chestertown, Maryland, written by local historians Patricia Joan O. Horsey and the late Carrie Schreiber, they explain the resolution was subject to: “A Traffic Study Committee reaching a satisfactory plan concerning the rearrangement of traffic flow; the creation of full scholarships for financially disadvantaged Chestertown students; the payment of Washington College to the Town of $100,000…and the construction of a pavilion on the Wilmer Park property that would be made available for Town recreational activities.”

In 1985, Gibson Avenue was sold to the college.

Gibson Avenue was finally closed in April of 1988. Following alteration suggestions by the Chestertown Traffic Study Committee, College Avenue, Campus Avenue and Mt. Vernon Avenue were adjusted.

The Kent Pilot thanks Joan Horsey and remembers the late Carrie E. Schreiber for their careful research and documentation of this historical subject.

The Kent County History Quiz is a weekly local brainteaser sponsored by The Peoples Bank. Our goal is to create an opportunity for local learning and discussion.

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