Brentwood's name is derived from Brents Wood, an estate built in Washington, D.C. in the early 1800's by Robert Brent, the first mayor of Washington. D.C., for his daughter upon the occasion of her marriage, and from Brentwood Road, which ran through the Brent estate and into the Maryland suburbs.
Robert Brent may have been descended from Giles Brent and his two sisters, Mary and Margaret, who came to Maryland in 1638.
The forerunner of a permanent form of government in Brentwood was the Brentwood Improvement Association of Prince George's County. The first meeting of this group was held in 1917. The association changed its name at the second meeting to the West Brentwood Improvement Association and drew up boundaries.
Ten kerosene lanterns and poles were purchased in 1917. Residents nearest the lights were responsible for the lighting, which became quite a problem when this task was neglected. The group met at intervals with picks and shovels and dug drainage ditches. All of the work was voluntary and equipment was purchased by donations of members.
On Nov. 15, 1921, the group decided that Brentwood should be incorporated in order to levy taxes for the construction and repairing of streets. On Dec. 20, 1921, the association voted on the mayor and council form of government.
A special meeting was held on Jan. 5, 1922, and a charter committee was appointed. After a charter was prepared, it was accepted and taken to the Maryland State Legislature at Annapolis to be ratified. G.A. Castle was appointed clerk; John C. May and Joseph Herbert were appointed as judges and Mr. Pribula was named as second clerk in compliance with the law.
The original charter of the town was accepted on July 12, 1922. Town elections were held on July 5, 1922, at which time Lloyd V. Moxley became the town's first mayor.
When the town's first officials were sworn in on July 6, 1922, the properties, books and money of the West Brentwood Citizens Associations were turned over to the new governing body.
The census records of that time give a demographic picture of the Brentwood community at the time of incorporation. Then, as now, it was a working class community of individuals making their way in the world, striving to own their own homes and raise their families in safe, healthy surroundings.
Bartlett Park is named after Capt. W. A. Bartlett, who was born in Warsaw, N.Y., November 5, 1844. He enlisted in the Berdan Sharpshooters at Bufflo and was wounded at the battle of the Wilderness and taken prisoner. When he was exchanged, he was ordered to Texas as an officer of the 19th U.S. Regiment (a black regiment), and later became captain.
Capt. Bartlett came to Washington about 1867. He initially purchased 206 acres of Brentwood farmland in 1887. His later purchases expanded the land area to approximately 400 acres. He formed the Holladay Company, the Brentwood Company and the Mt. Rainier Company, which were land development companies. Capt. Bartlett died in 1908. Bartlett Park is on land owned by Capt. Bartlett and deeded to the town after his death.