First named Bare Hills in the mid 1700’s because of the serpentine rock found on the land, this plot that runs along Falls Road remains unique. Bare Hills, also known as Scott Settlement, is one of Baltimore County’s oldest African American enclaves. Although the land had been previously utilized for its rich natural resources, it wasn’t until Reverend Aquila Scott’s move from St. Mary’s County to Bare Hills in 1820 that the neighborhood’s development was sparked. Earlier in the 18th century, Scott’s father, Tobias, had saved his master’s life and was awarded freedom from slavery for himself and all future descendants, thus allowing Scott to become a blacksmith and economically successful free black man in the area. Because Scott had the right to own property, he purchased his first two acres of land in Bare Hills in 1839. In the years following, as Scott’s family grew to more than twelve children, more land was purchased and homes were built on the west side of the community, gradually becoming a well known area for free African Americans. In 1833, Scott and the community founded and built a church that was originally named the Bethel Episcopal Methodist Religious Society, now known as St. John’s Church. An agreement was made with the previous owners of the land that the church could only be used as a burial site and meeting house for religious studies. Scott died in 1858 and was buried on the church grounds he helped build. Even after Scott’s death, his community of descendants continued to thrive, growing exponentially following the Emancipation Proclamation.
Although white people had always peacefully lived on the land, the Bare Hills community struggled to maintain its identity as a Black settlement after the Civil War. In 1902, John Gardman, a man who married into the Scott family, purchased more land along with a property named Pleasant View, which further expanded the Bare Hills community. Even after he began selling his land in 1925, Gardman insisted on selling to African Americans to uphold the identity of the community Scott had created. Bare Hills remains a prominent, historic black neighborhood to this day, and although the current residents are in a nonstop fight against gentrification and the destruction of the natural landscape that makes up the community, they have hopes to keep the Scott family and the neighborhood’s history alive.