As the patriarch of a prominent Frederick family, James H. Gambrill Jr. created a namesake that’s visible around the county, including our very own neighborhood.
Grains, Fruits & Business
After finishing school at Frederick City College, James embarked on a career in grain milling. This career led to a move to Alabama, where James experienced the booming industry of mercantile marketing and transportation of grains and farm crops.
He returned to Frederick County in 1893 and continued his lucrative career. In 1902, he helped establish the Frederick County Farmers Exchange, a joint stock company that marketed grain, flour, livestock feed, fertilizer, and farm tools. There, he served as the treasurer and manager.
After five years of successful operation, shares of the Exchange were sold to James, allowing him to comfortably pursue his personal passions.
The Environment, Education & Politics
Due to his valued reputation, James became involved in many public work projects and associations around the county. A newspaper article noted him as “one of the most progressive developments” in Frederick County history, slating him for excellence in politics and education.
He served as a Frederick City alderman from 1907 to 1910. During this time, James was also a part of the Frederick Business Men’s Association.
He then served as president of the Frederick County Board of Education in 1911. He also was a member of the Maryland Draft Board and chairman for the Frederick County Council of National Defense from 1917 to 1918.
Finding a renewed passion for helping the environment and people, James became a chairman of the Frederick City Park Board from 1924 to 1927.
His special interest in preserving natural beauty led him to convince his business associates to purchase a 1,100-acre plot of land that would be donated to the City of Frederick. About a year after receiving this donation, the City donated the land to the state of Maryland, and in 1934, Gambrill State Park was dedicated.
James continued his efforts to preserve mountain land for public use and conservation values. He was also notably instrumental in the development of the Frederick City watershed.
Today, “Gambrill State Park and the Frederick City Watershed exist in part as a result of Mr. Gambrill’s foresight and effort,” according to The Frederick News-Post, a company that James helped incorporate when it began as the Post Publishing Company.
The Gambrill Legacy
A newspaper article characterized James as having a clear vision and sound judgment. The article stated, “Believing in honesty not as policy but as a principle, Mr. Gambrill’s affairs have been conducted along the lines of utmost integrity.”
All accolades for James were well-deserved, a notion that went unchallenged by any local businessman or politician.
His influential integrity and passion for the County are immortalized in landmarks of Frederick that still stand today, including Frederick Memorial Hospital, Hood College, the Frederick Chamber of Commerce, Frederick Rotary Club, Citizens National Bank, and the Board of Zoning Appeals.
It’s also mirrored by Gambrill View in Frederick, Maryland. As a respectful nod to James’ great environmental efforts, the mountains that reflect his name overlook our neighborhood. In the spirit of keeping James alive, we strive to realize his vision by constructing new homes of energy efficiency and environmental sensitivity.
Our community shares his love for these strong mountains and the beautiful environment that envelopes our homes. It’s with great fortune that we continue his namesake in our community.