The United States Postal Service defines a larger area as Brookeville, than what falls within the town boundaries. This includes areas extending to the Patuxent River and the Howard County border, and including the small hamlets of Sunshine and Brighton. Reddy Branch Stream Valley Park surrounds the Town of Brookeville, with the creek flowing west to east towards the Patuxent. Other parks and recreational areas include Rachel Carson Conservation Park, Patuxent River State Park, and the Triadelphia Reservoir. Areas to the north of Brookeville in Howard County and Carroll County have also experienced rapid population growth. Georgia Avenue carries a substantial volume of traffic through the town, from these areas to the north into Montgomery County and Washington, D.C. In 1966, county planning officials recommended that a bypass be built to carry commuters around the town. The project remains on the shelf today, due to lack of funding.
Today, Brookeville is an affluent residential community, with a large portion of residents employed with the government or related professional jobs. The town is governed by a three-person town commission, while surrounding unincorporated areas are administered by the county. Historically, the Brookeville Academy was an important educational institution for the community. In 1883, Sherwood High School opened as a Friends school and became a public school in 1909, serving Brookeville and other nearby areas.
Brookeville served as a market town for the agriculture industry in the surrounding area. During the nineteenth century, Brookeville was home to several mills, the Brookeville Academy (initially a boys school), a post office, blacksmith's shop, St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Salem Methodist Protestant Church, and a number of shops. Newlin's Mill, located on the west side of town, processed high-quality castor oil and ground limestone for plaster. Thomas Mill was located on the east side of town. To transport goods more easily to markets in Washington, D.C., a prosperous farmer established a company in 1849 to build a toll road to connect Brookeville to the Seventh Street Pike. The turnpike was sold to the State of Maryland in 1914, and later became Georgia Avenue.
Brookeville was also home to Thomas Moore, Jr. who, along with Caleb Bentley, was instrumental in creation of the United States Department of Agriculture. Moore is also credited as the inventor of the first refrigerator, and coining the term. He created a portable contraption to transport butter and other products to sell at markets in Washington, D.C. His products commanded a high price, due to the extra freshness of the products at the market. Moore lived near the town, at Longwood Manor, which was built in 1817.
Madison stayed up all night, dispatching orders, while soldiers remained on guard outside. After the British left Washington they sailed to nearby Baltimore, where they attacked Fort McHenry and were repulsed. Upon hearing that news, Madison returned to Washington. Madison wrote a note to his wife that morning.
Finding that our army has left Montgomery Court House, we pushed on to this place, with a view to join it, or proceed to the city, as further information might prescribe. I have just received a line from Col. Monroe saying that the enemy were out of Washington on the retreat to their ships and advising our immediate return to Washington. I know not where we are in the first instance to hide our heads; but shall look for a place on my arrival. -- James Madison
The Oakley Farm, located on the western edge of Brookeville, thrived during the 1700s and 1800s. Log cabins, dating from the 1820s, were built on the Oakley/Dorsey farm, to house slaves and later free black families. The Oakley Cabin is now maintained by the Montgomery County Department of Parks. A number of other 17th and 18th century cabins still exist on private property in the Brookeville area.
During the American Civil War, George B. McClellan sent Union troops (First and the Ninth Corps) through Brookeville, on their way to Antietam. This was one of three groups of troops that came from different directions towards Antietam. The Quakers played an instrumental role in aiding escaped slaves on the underground railroad. Nearby Sandy Spring was an important stop. Historians suggest that the Madison House was also used as a stop on the underground railroad during the Civil War. Part of the Madison House once served as the town's post office. A false stone wall in the room hid a staircase that descended in two directions, including into a hidden area in the basement where escaped slaves could hide.
The automobile gave people more mobility and changed the market, with the nearby town of Olney taking prominence over Brookeville. Since the 1950s, the nearby town of Olney has rapidly developed, putting pressure on the community. The Brookeville Historic District was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. Brookeville's historic designation has helped it retain historic character.
Brookeville is located in northeastern Montgomery County, Maryland, close to the Patuxent River and the Howard County border. The town is located north of Olney, Maryland. The Town of Brookeville is formally incorporated, and covers an area of 0.1 square miles (0.3 km²). Areas beyond the formal town boundaries, extending to the Howard County boundary, are defined as Brookeville by the USPS, all falling within the 20833 zip code. Located within the zip code are the small hamlets of Sunshine and Brighton. Georgia Avenue, which is a major north-south route through this part of Maryland, passes through the Town of Brookeville. Brookeville Road connects the town with Laytonsville and other areas to the west. Brighton Dam Road extends to the east, crossing New Hampshire Avenue, over the Patuxent River, and into Howard County.
Georgia Avenue, which begins in Washington D.C., is a two lane road when it passes through the Town of Brookeville, with a stop sign and tight turn that takes it through the historic district. In 1989, the road carried 8,000 vehicles daily, a number that has increased to 18,000 vehicles each weekday in 2007. The traffic mainly consists of commuters from Carroll County and Howard County. The traffic volume on Georgia Avenue is vastly more than the road was designed to handle. Brookeville residents have advocated for a bypass road to be constructed, to take traffic around the town. The bypass road around the town has been on the planning stages for some time, since being recommended by county planning officials in 1966. The project remains on hold, with design, engineering and right-of-way acquisition not yet done, due to lack of funding, as well as environmental concerns that hinder progress.
Reddy Branch, a tributary of the Patuxent River, flows along the north and eastern edges of the town. Reddy Branch Stream Valley Park is located along Brookeville Road, to the west of the town, and to the east along Brighton Dam Road. Hawling Hills Park and Patuxent River State Park are located along New Hampshire Avenue, north of Ashton and to the east of Brookeville. Patuxent River State Park is used for hunting, fishing, hiking and horseback riding. Rachel Carson Conservation Park, located to the north, between Brookeville and Laytonsville, is undeveloped and has a number of hiking trails. The Triadelphia Reservoir, created by the Brighton Dam, is located along the Patuxent River. The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission maintains , in and around the reservoir, which are open to the public for recreational purposes. The Reservoir is a popular recreation spot that is suitable for fishing, kayaking, and other activities. Mount Zion Park is a small park with playgrounds, ball fields, tennis courts, and picnic facilities. Within the town itself, Powers’ Woods Park is a new park that is slated to be located near a recently restored one-room schoolhouse.
The larger area defined as Brookeville by the postal service, within the 20833 zip code, has a population of 6,259 as of the 2000 census. The median age is 37.5, and the racial composition is 84.1% Caucasian, 6.7% African-American, 6% Asian, and 3.6% Hispanic. The Brookeville area has a very high rate of home ownership, with 93.3% of its 2,063 households owning homes, which compares to a national average of 66.2% for home ownership. A large portion of the homes in Brookeville were built during the 1990s, as well as a large number built in the 1970s. As reported in the 2000 census, 30% of homes within the Brookeville zip code were built during the 1990s, 15.6% during the 1980s, 35.6% in the 1970s, 13% between 1940 and 1970, and 5.7% prior to 1940. 54% of the population had moved into their homes during the 1990s, 22.9% in the 1980s, 17.5% in the 1970s, and 5.6% have lived in the same home since prior to 1970. The median purchase price for homes in the Brookeville area in 2006 was $546,500, which compares to $475,000 for all of Montgomery County, and $243,750 for the entire United States.
The population in the Brookeville area is well-educated, with 57.6% of those age 25 or older having a college education, which compares to the national average of 24.4%. The median household income is $103,879, compared to a national average of $41,994. Per capita income is $40,540 compared to $21,587 for all of the United States. 76.2% of the population over age 16 is in the labor force. Average commuting time is 35.9 minutes, with 84.1% driving alone, 9% carpooling, 2.3% using public transportation, and 3.1% working at home. Most people are employed in management, professional, and related occupations, with 59.5% in those types of jobs. 19.3% are employed in sales and office occupations, 10.7% in service occupations, 5.7 in construction, extraction, and maintenance occupations, and 4.9% in production, transportation, and material moving occupations. 24.4% of those in the labor force are employed as government workers.
The Brookeville Academy, a preparatory school established in 1814, was one of the first schools in the county. Among those educated at the Academy, include Dr. Henry Howard, who established Howard County, and William Edward Magruder, great-grandson of Colonel Zadok Magruder. In 1869, the Brookeville Academy relocated to Merrywood, located on nearby farmland outside of town. The original building has since been used as a meeting facility by the American Legion and other organizations. On June 2, 1909, the Public School Board took over running the school. In 1988, the original building was sold to the Town of Brookeville, which maintains the building as a historic site and use for events.
The Longwood School for Boys was a private school that was established in 1946 by George F. Kimmell, who had bought Longwood Manor. In 1952, Kimmell leased the school facilities to the Civil Defense Administration, which used it for military training. The school was vacated in 1963, and remained vacant until 1978, when it was converted into a community recreation center. The Longwood Recreation Center is run by the Montgomery County Recreation Department.
Brookeville is now part of the Montgomery County Public Schools system, and is served by Sherwood High School, which first opened in 1883 as a Friends school and became a public school in 1909. Most of Brookeville, including the town proper, is located in the service area for Rosa Parks Middle School and Greenwood Elementary School. Some areas, bordering Howard County, are located the service area for William H. Farquhar Middle School and Sherwood Elementary School. Up until 1992, when Rosa Parks Middle School opened, all of Brookeville was within the Farquhar service area.