By Martin Schipper
As you approach the Shell Station, Advance Auto, Burger King and CVS on Fingerboard Road, you’ll see a small fenced area beside the road. Inside is a grouping of stones. This is a memorial erected by the current owners of the surrounding property, marking the graveyard of the Rine and Dixon families.
John Rine operated a tavern in a log structure on the property as early as 1822. He had grown up on a farm in the area and is noted as one of the first residents in the town of Urbana. In 1848 or 1849, John Rine died and was buried on the property. Joining him there in succeeding years were his wife, Mary Rine, and children, Lucy and Jessie Rine. The original gravestones have been lost, but a photo of the “Rine Family Cemetery” was included in the Maryland Inventory of Historic Sites F-7-73.
Thomas Dixon and Lucy (Rine) Dixon inherited the property from John Rine’s estate and built the large brick house that still stands at the corner of Fingerboard Road and Urbana Pike. Their daughter, Minnie (Dixon) Peters, sold the property in 1906 with the stipulation that “the graveyard in the corner of the garden is hereby reserved from this conveyance.”
Mrs. Baumgardner later opened her famous Tea Room in the brick Rine-Dixon house during the Great Depression. Her son, Richard Baumgardner, was a big band leader. He expanded the Tea Room into the Hot Cha Club in the 1930s, and this became the Peter Pan Inn.
The Peter Pan Inn drew thousands of weekend motorists from the DC metropolitan area to stroll in the gardens and enjoy the food and atmosphere. The Peter Pan was famous for hushpuppies and the fixings or garnishes. This was the landmark location for which Urbana was known. Many residents and their teenage children worked there.
John Poole and family moved their Cracked Claw Restaurant into the premises from their Germantown location in the 1980s. This establishment was noted for fresh steamed crabs, comaraderie and weekly karaoke events. They opened an off-track betting parlor and became the place where crowds saw the Kentucky Derby and other horse-racing events.
The brick Rine-Dixon house now sits forlorn, waiting for a new generation to take the helm and bring new life to the corner of Fingerboard Road and Urbana Pike.