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Kings Contrivance, Columbia, Maryland facts for kids

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Kings Contrivance
Country United States
State Maryland
City Columbia
Established 1977
Named for Kings Contrivance restaurant

Kings Contrivance is one of the 10 villages in the planned community of Columbia, Maryland, and is home to about 11,000 residents.

Columbia Villages
Villages of Columbia


In 1962, Community Research and Development board member Melvin Berman took interest in a 1,032-acre parcel of land assembled by land developer Robert Moxley comprising four farm properties from the Carroll, Kahler, Wix, and his uncle James R. Moxley Sr's families. Close to 15,000 acres were desired to create a parcel large enough for an envisioned 100,000 person development. Rouse's attorney Jack Jones set up a grid system to secretly buy land through dummy corporations to keep costs low. Moxley's firm Security Realty Company (now Security Development Group Inc), negotiated most of the land deals for Jones, becoming his best client. CRD accumulated 14,178 acres (57.38 km2), 10 percent of Howard County (located between Baltimore and Washington), from 140 separate owners. The $19,122,622 acquisition was funded by Connecticut General Life Insurance, at an average price of $1,500 per acre ($0.37/m²). In late 1962, citizens elected an all-Republican three member council. J. Hubert Black, Charles E. Miller, and David W. Force campaigned on a slow-growth ballot, but later approved the Columbia project. In October 1963, the acquisition was revealed to the residents of Howard County.

The HRD development proposed 10 communities. The village of King's Contrivance is a collection of multiple farm properties once given as land grants in the 1600s. Shortly before notice of the Columbia project in 1963, Councilman J. Hubert Black exchanged his historic family property in Woodbine to C. Lawrence Moore, a dairy farmer with land holdings in the soon to be Kings Contrivance area. Moore would go on to run the property as "Larriland Farms". As a broker in the land deal and a member of the school board, Moxley arranged for the county to repurchase a large portion of newly exchanged land to create Hammond High School before legislation required the land to be donated by the developer. Black would soon pass the legislation to allow the Columbia development, then retired to West Virginia.

In preparation for the upcoming development, the county added the land surrounding Howard County General and parcels contracted around Kindler road by Joel Kline to the water and sewer district. Kline's business model of using public stock to buy real estate, then funneling income to Maryland politicians who would provide profitable upzoning, would topple the presidency in 1973 when he indicted Spiro Agnew to avoid criminal charges.

The new development was pitched in 1973 as a community of single family homes surrounded by a 35-acre 18-hole golf course; the course was not completed by the first occupations in 1977. It is Columbia's southernmost village and includes a Village Center (open-air shopping center) and many apartment complexes and housing developments. Kings Contrivance is located on a portion of 836 acres of land originally surveyed as "Warfield's Contrivance". The village takes its name from the 1780 building converted to a restaurant. Kingdon Gould, Jr. substituted "King" for "Warfield", creating "Kings Contrivance" for his Simpsonville restaurant in 1962. Gould later sold the land which included 171 acres named McGill's Range to Rouse to form McGill's Common.

In 1990, the pastor of Trinity Church of Elkridge formed the South Columbia Baptist Church by demolishing the historic 1846 Thomas Worthington home "Moundland" to build a new facility adjacent to Hammond High School.

The three neighborhoods are:

  • Huntington is located to the Southeast of the village center, and is named for an historic home land grant of 259 acres to the son of Henry Ridgely Sr. in 1696 Huntington South was developed by the Moxley family company Security Development Group.
  • Macgill's Common extends to the northwest towards the center of Columbia, and takes its name from the Reverend James Macgill, 1730 pastor of Christ Church Guilford, and resident of Athol Manor, whose land grant "Athol Enlarged" is partially included in the King's Contrivance Neighborhood. Prominent heir, land planner and Judge James MacGill lived at the "King's Contrivance" house as a child, selling the 780-acre estate and home to Kingdon Gould for development through a company named Overlook Inc., after his personal Overlook Farm Estate.
  • Dickinson, to the west, takes its name from the famous American poet, Emily Dickinson.

The street names of Huntington are derived from the works of Carl Sandburg, and those of Macgill's Common come from the Folksongs of North America compilation recorded by Alan Lomax. Dickinson has street names taken from the work of Emily Dickinson.

There are many scenic and recreational parks in and around Kings Contrivance, including Gorman Park, Huntington Neighborhood Park, and Savage Park, all of which are maintained by Howard County Recreation and Parks and the Columbia Association. Many trails weave in and around the neighborhoods of Kings Contrivance, providing access to the county parks, as well as to Columbia's extensive bike/hiking trail system.


The Village Center, opened in 1986, contains a McDonald's, a Chinese restaurant, an Italian diner called Trattoria E Pizzeria de Enrico, a Subway restaurant, a liquor store, a CVS, several ATMs, a beauty salon, a barber, a dry cleaner, a formal wear shop, office space, medical offices, an orthodontist office, an Allstate Insurance agency, a gas station, and a cobbler. A Harris Teeter grocery store, the second to open in Maryland, opened in May 2008, on the site of a Safeway that had closed in 2006. (Before Safeway, the grocery anchor was Valu Food.) A Rita's Italian ice store was also added in 2008. In November 2011, the Corner Stable replaced Michael's Pub as the flagship restaurant in the village center.

Amherst House, the location of the Kings Contrivance Community Association, is also in the village center. This building, named after Emily Dickinson's hometown in Massachusetts, also serves as a rental hall for community events, parties, and meetings.

Scenes from the movie Roulette (2013) were filmed at the Kings Contrivance restaurant.

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