The gas lamps of Langdrum Lane in Chevy Chase are about as old as the neighborhood itself.
According to lifelong residents, the two cast-iron lamp posts that mark an entrance to the Chevy Chase West neighborhood have been around since 1905, long before the six lanes of traffic that constantly whizzes by on Wisconsin Avenue.
For Sue Anderson, the Langdrum Lane resident who led the charge to restore the lamps almost 15 years ago, the lamps are as much about neighborhood spirit as historic preservation.
“I frankly didn’t have to give much of a pitch. People really like this neighborhood and they like to see it maintained,” Anderson said. “It was really a very nice thing because it showed that with just a little bit of preparation and support, the neighborhood could accomplish something pretty easily.”
Anderson had lived in Chevy Chase West for several years when she answered a call from the neighborhood association’s president to do something about the lamps, which were not working and deteriorating.
Anderson thought the lamps were an eyesore and she had just switched to a consulting job in which she had more time to commit toward a neighborhood project.
She held a meeting at her house, one of about 65 homes on the roughly three-block stretch of road that extends west from Wisconsin Avenue’s “Green Mile.”
Most of the up-front funding for a small gas line from one lamp to the other came from her and a neighbor who has lived in one of the street’s homes all his life.
Anderson and the group ultimately raised $7,000 to re-work some of the cement, spray paint the iron work and put something on top of the lamps. They also paid for a gas meter on the lamp. The neighborhood association pays the roughly $20-per-month gas bill.
“It certainly makes our neighborhood distinctive,” Anderson said. “We are lucky to have this really nice, collegial and supportive atmosphere.”