Southwestern outpost of the greater Sandy Spring neighborhood, Norbeck put down roots as a free-black community shortly before the Civil War. With emancipation it grew, with the largest population concentrated in a community known as Mt. Pleasant between present Georgia Avenue and Muncaster Mill Road. In Mt. Pleasant were a church, school, and meeting hall, along with a store run by whites.
White families, too, settled along the area’s intersecting roads. Unlike most Sandy Spring crossroads, Norbeck was slow to sprout the usual general store and blacksmith/wheelwright shops. Not until the1880s did a store and post office open, and another decade elapsed before a smith set up shop. By 1900 A.E. Stonestreet was operating his large store and the postal service, Walter H. White owned the blacksmith shop and Norbeck’s commercial course was set.
Oakdale today is easily overlooked by the passerby yet is one of Sandy Spring’s more intact early communities. Perhaps its earliest business establishment was Higgins Tavern, which comforted the weary traveler during much of the 1800s; it later became the Martin family home and now is boarded up. The old one-room public school still stands on Emory Lane, as does the ancient Oakdale Methodist Church, now clad in stone; both are now private homes. Similarly, Linton’s General Store building and post office are now a home, just south of Hyatt House.