November 22, 2017
Community
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  • (L-R) Riviera Beach residents include Jessica Stein and her daughter as well as Susan Hancock, Hellen Cullum and Roland Kroneberg.
    Photo by Judy Tacyn
    (L-R) Riviera Beach residents include Jessica Stein and her daughter as well as Susan Hancock, Hellen Cullum and Roland Kroneberg.

Unique Activities And Camaraderie Set Riviera Beach Apart

Judy Tacyn
Judy Tacyn's picture
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November 10, 2017
Located at the northernmost tip of Fort Smallwood Road in Pasadena is a quaint peninsula surrounded by Stoney Creek to the north, Rock Creek to the south and the Patapsco River to the east. This community of 13,400 people, known as Riviera Beach, is just 2.6 square miles. There are approximately 2,100 homes in the area, many along the abundant waterfront.
 
Public school children attend either Sunset or Riviera Beach elementary schools, George Fox Middle School and Northeast High School. Community amenities include the Riviera Beach Library, Riviera Beach Volunteer Fire Company, a boat ramp, fishing pier, three beaches, and a park that includes the Riviera Beach Memorial Project, a site that honors veterans and first responders.
 
Before it was Riviera Beach, the land consisted of two large farms. Oliver H. Williams acquired both properties in 1862 and called the 166 acres of land Brown’s Adventure. The land changed hands a few times before it was obtained in 1903 by August G. Schmidt, who farmed the land until 1914. The property again changed ownership, and again in 1921 when it was purchased by T. W. Pumphrey, who with his brothers formed the Riviera Beach Development Company in 1924.
 
Many residents, like Roland Kroneberger, who has lived in Riviera Beach since his childhood, move to the area and never leave. Kroneberger’s family relocated from Baltimore City to Riviera Beach in 1979 when he was in middle school at George Fox. “It’s a very middle-class neighborhood with kind and hardworking people,” said Kroneberger.
 
Hellen Cullum
Resident for more than 60 years
 
Hellen Cullum wasn’t expecting to stay in Riviera Beach after she moved to the sleepy community in 1955 from South Baltimore. She purchased a two-story brick home on a corner lot and a double garage for $12,095. She still lives there today.
 
“It was so quiet here; I wanted to move back to the city!” she said. But then she received an interesting job offer right in Riviera Beach.
 
“I got asked if I wanted to be a bank teller in a trailer,” laughed Cullum. “County Trust was the first bank in the area and they were going to work out of a mobile trailer. It was just two tellers and a manager in the trailer. But it all worked out. I stayed with the bank for 33 years.”
 
Cullum has been with the Riviera Beach Volunteer Fire Department for 55 years, and she crochets blankets for young cancer patients at Sinai Hospital. It’s hard to catch this spry senior; she schedules events every day of the week.
 
Though the traffic has increased and the noise level has gone up, Cullum says her neighbors are just as great today as they were in the 1950s. Something else that hasn’t changed? Her car! Cullum drove a Chevy Impala in the 1950s and drives a much newer model today.
 
Susan Hancock
Resident for 30 years 
 
Susan Hancock grew up in Bahama Beach in Pasadena, but she and her husband chose Riviera Beach to raise their three children.
 
“We were looking for a place close to my mother. I liked that Riviera Beach was established and already had had its own history,” said Hancock. “I have since seen the neighborhood change as younger families have moved in. Now my family is the history.”
 
Hancock said she believes the annual Riviera Beach Memorial Project parade and flag ceremony has proven to be a unifying event. “We take great pride in our community,” she said. “There is a strong family foundation in this community.”
 
Hancock would recommend Riviera Beach to anyone. “The neighborhood is changing; I see a commitment by residents to make it better,” added Hancock. “A lot of children have since come to the neighborhood to raise their own families. I have great neighbors, and I have watched their children grow up, and some of them have remained in the area.”
 
Jessica Stein
Resident for two years
 
The Stein family is just one of the groups to which Hancock was referring. “Almost my whole family lives in Pasadena, and some of my relatives are from Riviera Beach,” said Jessica Stein. “I was raised in Pasadena and attended Jenkins Memorial Church right here in Riviera Beach as child and now as an adult.”
 
Stein and her husband moved into their current home two years ago. “We chose Riviera Beach because it’s close to our family, close to our church, it’s pretty quiet, close to the water and has beautiful scenic views.”
 
She added that the neighborhood is unique in that it has everything. “It has a small-town feel; it’s close to Lauer’s, the local grocery store, [and the] Riviera Beach fire house, which has an annual parade and carnival we look forward to every year,” added Stein. “We have access to the water, and it has private and public schools within the neighborhood.”
 
And, Riviera Beach neighbors are terrific.
 
“Every year, Jenkins Memorial Church teams up with a program providing shelter and food for the homeless, and I have seen a lot of the members and neighbors come together to volunteer,” said Stein. “I’ve seen our community come together for vigils in the park. I’m sure if there is ever a situation of need for any of our residents, our community will be there willing to help!”

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