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Crofton History – The Levitt Chapter

Levitt and Sons logo in 1969
If you’re relocating to the Washington-Baltimore area from another part of the country, you may notice that some sections of Crofton are eerily similar to other neighborhoods in Maryland. 
 

In fact, Crofton may resemble a place you previously lived in New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Delaware, or Pennsylvania.  It’s no coincidence – hundreds of communities, with many of the same home designs and floorplans, were built by Levitt and Sons over many decades and around the world.

Since 2008 is the 40th anniversary of the first Levitt homes in Crofton, I thought it might be interesting to take a little stroll back to the early days of Levitt and Sons and the homes they constructed in Crofton over the course of about five years.

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Levitt and Sons, Inc. – From the Beginning:

Levitt and Sons was established in 1929 by the son of immigrants, real estate attorney Abraham Levitt and his sons William, as President, and Alfred, as Chief Architect and Planner.  They started construction the same year on their first community at Rockville Centre, New York, and expanded to several other states over the next four decades. 

From the Levitt Corporation website

CLICK HERE to read the article in Time MagazineWilliam Levitt anticipated a pent-up demand for housing after World War II, and the company started acquiring land while he was still serving in the Pacific with the Seabees, the U.S. Navy’s construction unit.  The company came up with a design for a basic house, together with a way to reduce construction procedures to 26 steps. This process, together with their mechanical and technical innovations, revolutionized the home-building industry.

Levitt actually created an assembly line to build houses on the site, using men and equipment much as they do in the auto industry. The essential difference between Detroit’s methods and Levitt’s was that auto makers moved materials past a waiting line of men in a factory, whereas the Levitt system moved the workmen from house site to house site past a waiting line of material in the field. Thus, in an industry notorious for wasted time, motion and material, the company introduced previously unheard-of logistics, timing and efficiency. 

William took over the company in 1954 and continued to operate it until 1972, even after selling the company to ITT in 1968 and ITT’s subsequent loss of the company in 1971 due to an anti-trust ruling. 

Levitt homes in Crofton were built between 1968 and 1973,
in the community developed by Crawford Corporation.

Over the years, Levitt companies established a modular home building subsidiary, expanded overseas, and changed hands several times.  The Levitt Corporation and many of its subsidiaries are still in business today, even after the 2007 bankruptcy filing by Levitt and Sons, LLC and 37 subsidiaries.  While Bill Levitt did return to the building industry in the late 70’s, he was barred by the courts from using his own name, a trademark of the company he sold.  

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Levitt Homes in Crofton:

All Levitt-built detached homes in Crofton were constructed on a slab, but some of their townhomes do have basements, depending on the topography of the site.  Unlike new homes by today’s builders, with endless options, interior colors were pre-determined based on the model – my first Levitt home, for example, was an Enfield model townhome which came with a yellow powder room, pink bathroom, and brown kitchen appliances.  

Other standard features of Levitt homes in Crofton (and even homes built ten years earlier in neighboring Bowie) include the following:  tile squares in every room of the house, except bathrooms which had ceramic tiles; speckled spray paint on all the walls and doors; metal closet doors and hollow-core interior doors throughout; and sliding glass doors to the back yard.  Many of these standard features have been updated and upgraded over the years, and bear little or no resemblance today to homes occupied by the first Levitt homeowners.

Levitt-built detached homes which originally sold in Crofton in the $20-30,000 range now often sell for more than $400,000, while townhomes which sold new in the $20,000’s now sell for nearly $300,000.  You can scroll over the photo to see the model name of pictured homes.  (These homes are not currently for sale.) 

Ardsley


Ardsley
– 4–bedroom cape cod 

 

Buckingham /Brandywine
– 3–bedroom rancher

 

Buckingham / BrandywineCambridge – 3 bedroom 2–story colonial 

 

Canterbury – 2–bedroom townhome

 

Gibbon Devon – expanded 3–bedroom rancher 

 

Dorset – 3–bedroom townhome

 

Gladstone/GalwayEnfield    – 3–bedroom townhome

 

Gibbon – 3–bedroom townhome

 

JamestownGladstone – 4–bedroom 2–story colonial

 

Jamestown – 2–bedroom one-level townhome

 

RoxburyRoxbury – 4–bedroom colonial

 

Severn / Susquehanna – 4–bedroom colonial

 

                                            Tred Avon – 4–Tred Avonbedroom “California-style” rancher

 

Wicomico – 3–bedroom rancher

 


All photos copyright 2008.  M.Woda
 

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I hope you enjoyed this information about Crofton history, and I invite you to share your own photos or stories about Levitt’s first years in Crofton.  You can email the information to me now, and I’ll include it in another post on this topic later in the 40th anniversary year of Levitt in Crofton.

In addition to Time Magazine article about William Levitt and the Levitt Corporation website (links above), another interesting source of information about the company and its history is LevittownBeyond.com.
 

Other Levitt Communities in Maryland:
(a partial list)

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