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Montgomery County’s Newest Historic District is Mid-Century Modern

Black and white photo of Mid Century Modern Style Furniture in a living room, including a sofa, two chairs, a fireplace, a coffee table and two side tables.

Congratulations to residents and champions of the Potomac Overlook Historic District, the first Mid-Century Modern historic district in Montgomery County and the first designated by the County Council since 2011. Not only does this designation reflect the importance of site development and land planning in creating communities respectful of the natural surroundings and topography, but the contemporary designs are outstanding, and multiple original owners were influential in local, state, and national affairs. 

The process of research and nomination, approvals, and ultimately voting by the County Council took nearly three years. The new historic district includes 19 houses that overlook the Potomac River.  Builder Edmund J. Bennett teamed with architects Keyes, Lethbridge, and Condon to develop this subdivision in the late 1950s. Congratulations to all concerned!   

For photos and more information, see  HERE

“When you think of roads in Montgomery County, your mind may jump to the wide and fast corridors like Georgia Avenue or Rockville Pike, but head upcounty and you’ll find some of the most serene, beautiful driving and biking in the region. One-lane gravel roads winding through wooded areas like Mt. Ephraim Road, or one of the still-unpaved early 1800s roads like West Old Baltimore Road where vehicles have to ford a stream.

Montgomery County, the second largest in the region at 507-square-miles, is home to 99 of these “rustic roads” which, to earn the distinction, must be historic, have scenic views, and reflect the agricultural character and rural origins of the county. They tend to be narrow, low-traffic, and highlight historic areas. A second distinction, “exceptional rustic road” requires unusual features found on few other roads like ruins or historic homes.”

Read the rest of the article on DCist.com

In Memoriam: Educator and Historian Nina H. Clarke

Nina Honemond Clarke accepting Award for rehabilitation of Cordelia House on behalf of Jerusalem-Mt Pleasant Church in 2009.

Nina Honemond Clarke, renown educator and historian, passed away on March 4, 2021, aged 103.  She was respected by educators, historians and preservationists in Montgomery County and greatly admired for her accomplishments, tenacity, and grace.  MPI is one of many organizations that recognized her contributions to our history, especially African American history.

Mrs. Clarke was born in 1917 and raised in a small Black community in Montgomery County, the 9th of 11 children born to Percival J. and Sara Copeland Honemond. She graduated from Rockville Colored High School in 1934 and attended Bowie State College where she received a teaching certificate.  At the age of 19, she was smitten with her first elementary school students. Later she completed a BA and MA in education, then took additional courses at local universities. This extraordinary teacher never quit learning.

She achieved these goals when it was a major challenge, and the story of that effort left listeners humbled.  Her message to every audience inspired respect and courage to act, continuing long after her retirement. She was the first Black teacher to be assigned to a White class. Her students loved her, and many remained close to her long afterward.

Nina Clarke was a force for Black education and shared her experiences and insights freely without blame or rancor. She spoke to local history groups and wrote about Montgomery County’s African American schools and churches, the heart of most communities.  She described for us the struggle to live and work here despite the barriers of discrimination.  At her talks, often given while in a rocking chair surrounded by youngsters, listeners wondered how anyone could deny this intelligent, beautiful, dedicated woman who loved and embraced education for all.  Montgomery County benefited from her lessons of a hopefully bygone day.

She was also dedicated to her church, Jerusalem-Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church in Rockville.  Starting as a bi-racial congregation in 1835, and joining the Washington Mission Conference after Emancipation, Jerusalem became the center of civil rights activity in Montgomery County in the 20th century.  Miss Nina’s history of her church expanded into a more extensive effort, History of Nineteenth Century Black Churches in Maryland and Washington, DC.  With Lillian B. Brown, she researched and wrote History of the Black Schools of Montgomery County, Maryland, 1872-1961.  Both are now out of print and priced as rare books if they can be found.

When the church parsonage was damaged by fire, she campaigned to raise funds and convince people to save and reuse the hand-constructed building. The insurance company declared it a total loss and offered a check, but today it remains in use as Cordelia House.

For all of this and more, Nina Honemond Clarke was awarded the Montgomery County Award for Lifetime Achievement in Heritage Education for her leadership, and for her oral and written histories of a time when your skin color mattered more than your dedication and contributions.  She had both qualities along with the love and respect of her colleagues and friends. MPI and all who appreciate history and education will miss Nina Honemond Clarke.  MPI sends our condolences to her family.  We, and Montgomery County, share your loss.

Frieda's Cottage

Frieda’s Cottage named National Historic Landmark

In January 2021, the National Park Service designated Frieda’s Cottage in Rockville as a National Historic Landmark, recognizing the national significance of Dr. Frieda Fromm-Reichmann (1889-1957), a psychiatrist who pioneered the psychoanalytic treatment of schizophrenia. In a field whose theoretical constructs had been developed by men, she was a transformative influence and a major figure in the emergence of a new approach to severe mental illness.

Dr. Frieda Fromm-Reichmann’s studies and practice in her native Germany brought her international recognition by 1935. That year, she emigrated to America, where she joined the staff of Chestnut Lodge Sanitarium in Rockville. Frieda’s background and ideology meshed well with the approaches at Chestnut Lodge, and she became director of psychotherapy in 1936. The Lodge built the cottage as her residence and office, where Frieda developed and refined her technique for treating people suffering severe mental disorder. Her seminal work, Principles of Intensive Psychotherapy (1950), became essential reading for psychiatrists in training and remained in print for 60 years.
The Colonial Revival cottage’s high degree of integrity is a credit to Peerless Rockville, which restored it in 2009.

To learn more about this one of a few NHLs in Montgomery County, visit www.peerlessrockville.org

Image courtesy of Peerless Rockville

Haiti Cemetery

Haiti Cemetery Association Earns Maryland Historical Trust award for Project Excellence: Preservation Partnerships

Congratulations to Hannelore Quigley, James Demma, and Haiti Cemetery Association for earning a Maryland Historical Trust award for Project Excellence: Preservation Partnerships. Haiti Cemetery opened in the 1880s to serve a kinship community descended from free and enslaved families near Rockville. The efforts of Ms. Quigley and Mr. Demma, together with members of the Crutchfield family, overcame legal and financial burdens and led to formation of the association, which will maintain and protect the future of this important historic place. On March 12, a small socially-distanced group gathered at the cemetery to present the award certificate.

Montgomery County mourns the passing of Mike Dwyer, former Montgomery Parks Historian

Mike Dwyer, retired Montgomery County Parks historianMontgomery County mourns the passing of Mike Dwyer, former Montgomery Parks Historian, on Sunday, May 5. Mike was M-NCPPC’s first historian, with the enviable task of driving a Jeep around to survey sites 1975-76 that became the Locational Atlas and Index of Historic Sites in Montgomery County, Maryland. In 1979, he championed creation of the Ordinance, Montgomery County Master Plan for Historic Preservation, and the HPC, which are the foundations of our program to preserve local historic resources. Mike cared about Park properties, archaeology, mills, non-profit and public preservation projects, always insisting on high standards of documentation and conservation as well as practical uses for historic structures. MPI honored him with The Montgomery Prize in 2000 for his lifetime of work, and he continued to serve as a storehouse of knowledge that he willingly shared. Mike’s observations, dry wit, deadpan humor, tireless energy, and willingness to mentor all of us will be sorely missed.

Montgomery County Awards for Historic Preservation Presented on March 22

Ten Montgomery County individuals and groups received 2018 Historic Preservation Awards recently at Seneca Lodge in Boyds. Extraordinary citizens from all corners of the County were honored by their peers and public officials for educational programs, restoration projects, creative stewardship, and partnerships that led to preservation success. An overflow audience cheered each recipient who restored a building or initiated a program to further local history and historic places. The annual event, sponsored by MPI, showcases outstanding achievements in the private, non-profit, and public sectors in Montgomery County. This year, Germantown Historical Society and Boyds Historical Society co-hosted the event.

2018 Awardees are:

Miche Booz Architect was honored for exterior restoration and adaptive reuse of Hammer Hill, a visible and previously endangered Queen Anne-style house in Clarksburg. Now used as a medical office, the former residence retains beautiful architectural features. County Councilmember At Large Evan Glass presented the award.

Accepting the County Executive’s Award was historian Jamie F. Kuhns. While most nominations come from the public, this award is selected by the County Executive after recommendation by the Historic Preservation Commission and its staff. This year, County Executive Marc Elrich selected Jamie Kuhn’s scholarly biography of Josiah Henson, which details Henson’s resilience in overcoming slavery in Maryland to hold a place in international history.

KC Associates and John Stone were applauded for restoration of an Art Deco commercial storefront in Takoma Park.  Exterior restoration of 7000 Carroll Avenue included refinishing signature chevron spandrel panels and meticulously repairing 44 original windows. Steve Knight, president of the Art Deco Society of Washington, DC, bestowed the award.

Pleasant Plains of Damascus chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution was honored for documentation and rehabilitation of historic Purdum Cemetery in Cedar Grove. With Purdum family members, the group brought new life to the resting place of an early Damascus family for the benefit of the community.  The award was given by Glenn Wallace, director of the Montgomery County Cemetery Inventory-Revisited project.

Carrie and Tom Witkop received an award in recognition of their rescue and rehabilitation of an 1889 Victorian in the Capitol View Park historic district.  Formerly in ruinous condition, today the house is a charming residence. Presenting was Rebeccah Ballo, supervisor of the Historic Preservation program.

The Wayne Goldstein Preservation Advocacy Award was earned by Boyds Historical Society and Boyds Civic Association for decades of working together to improve multiple aspects of their historic rural community.  Richard Madaleno, Director, Office of Management and Budget, presented awards to Miriam Schoenbaum and Hammet Hough.

Special Achievement Awards were given by Reemberto Rodriguez, Director, Silver Spring Regional Center, to Jerry A. McCoy for educational programs, publications, and advocacy to preserve the history of Silver Spring, and to Gary Mosteller for design of a Peerless Rockville homes tour booklet, by Nancy Pickard, Executive Director of Peerless Rockville.

The Menare Foundation was honored for painstaking restoration of the 1882 farmhouse, home of the Button Farm Living History Center on Black Rock Road in Boyds. Honoring Tony Cohen and Steve Gillick was County Councilmember Craig Rice, District 2.

The Montgomery Prize went to the Rustic Roads Advisory Committee for more than 30 years of preserving our landscape heritage.  This award honors continuous outstanding achievement in furthering history and preservation in Montgomery County.  Accepting the award from County Councilmember Andrew Friedson, District 1, were RRAC committee members and staff.

Photographs of each of these awardees may be seen here

A Historic Reunion:  Visit the New Deal Mural at Silver Spring Library, 3rd Floor

L to R: Mary Reardon, MPI; George French, Silver Spring Historical Society (SSHS); Diana Kohn, Historic Takoma; Robin Ross, Silver Spring resident; Jerry A. McCoy, Silver Spring Historical Society; Allen C. Browne, photographer and resident; Lysette House, FOLSS; Marcie Stickle, SSHS; Wendy Woodland, MPI.

After decades of separation, the Silver Spring Post Office and the historic mural “The Old Tavern” again share the same address. The mural was painted in 1937 by emigre Nicolai Cikovsky for the Silver Spring Post Office. The 6’x16’ oil on canvas depicts black and white Civil War Union soldiers, 1864-65, reading mail and relaxing in front of the Eagle Inn, which stood on the SW corner of present day Georgia Avenue and Colesville Road, in the village then called Sligo.

In 1994 Silver Spring resident Jerry McCoy searched for and unearthed the mural,  partnering with Friends of the Library Silver Spring to raise funds for its 1997 conservation and dedication. McCoy founded the Silver Spring Historical Society in 1998.

In 2015, “The Old Tavern” was cleaned and reinstalled in the new Silver Spring Library, with funds raised by Friends of the Library Silver Spring Chapter (FOLSS). On August 31, 2018, the U.S. Postal Service held a ribbon-cutting event for the opening of the SS Post Office at 900 Wayne Avenue.  John Sery of Montgomery Preservation (MPI) captured the moment for the December 2018 FOLSS newsletter.

 

Rockville’s New Deal-Era Post Office Mural will be Featured on a 2019 Forever Stamp

The City of Rockville and Peerless Rockville plan to commemorate this honor on a 2019 date TBD. The 1940 mural by Judson Smith was restored as part of the landmark building’s purchase by the City and re-purposed as the Rockville Police Station in 2012.

In a press release, the U.S. Postal Service stated that the stamp will be sold within a pane of 10 stamps that depict “five different murals designed to add a touch of beauty to Post Office walls and help boost the morale of Americans during the era of the Great Depression.”

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