The first incorporated African American community in the county, North Brentwood was founded in 1891 by Captain Wallace A. Bartlett, a veteran commander of the U.S. Colored Troops and a federal employee. He purchased a large tract of farmland northeast of the city and platted the property into narrow lots. The flood-prone lots on the north side of the parcel were less expensive and sales there were directed to Black buyers, many indirectly associated with Bartlett through military service. North Brentwood, called Randalltown in its early years, became a thriving enclave for Black families who commuted to federal jobs in Washington. They were able to achieve the financial security of home ownership in a time when restrictive covenants in property deeds made many neighboring jurisdictions whites only.
The first houses in North Brentwood were wood I-houses and front gable structures, many built by members of the Randall family between 1892 and 1904. The row of front gable dwellings at 4504–4508 41st Avenue were common rural house forms adapted to small suburban lots. A surviving example of North Brentwood’s earliest houses includes Peter Randall’s at 4508 Rhode Island Avenue; he worked at the Government Printing Office.
The City and Suburban Electric Trolley line opened along Rhode Island Avenue in 1898. Like other streetcar suburb communities in the vicinity, North Brentwood experienced strong growth in the early twentieth century, with construction of house types such as bungalows, foursquares, and, later in the period, brick Cape Cods. Several churches are also present in this mainly residential community, such as the Gothic-influenced Brentwood AME Zion Church (1920; 4037 Webster Street). North Brentwood was officially incorporated in 1924, two years after the white community of Brentwood.