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Germantown Museum of Banking

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The Germantown Historical Society is creating a Museum of Banking History inside this historic bank building that closed in 1988. They are looking for stories from bank customers and employees, photos of the interior and exterior, and artifacts – any items related to this bank. Contact germantownmdhistory@gmail.com or 301-972-0795.

Taylor Elementary School Designated Historic

Edward U. Taylor School in Boyds has been added to Montgomery County’s Master Plan for Historic Preservation. The County Council voted unanimously on July 11 to designate the former school as a historic site.

The school was named for a tireless educator who, as supervisor of Negro students under MCPS Superintendent Edwin Broome, worked to improve school facilities for Black students during segregation. Dividing his time between teaching and visiting schools, Edward U. Taylor successfully advocated for higher teacher salaries and maternity leave.  At hearings before the Planning Board and County Council, Joan Taylor Kelly expressed her family’s appreciation and former students recalled their time here.

This Modern Movement-influenced building was completed in 1952, a year after Mr. Taylor’s death.  Today Taylor Science Center processes and stores science materials for MCPS.

The 300-Year-Old Linden Oak: An Appreciation

By Clarence Hickey for Montgomery History, July 2023

The historic Linden Oak stood near the Rockville Pike for more than 300 years. The history it has seen is part of our being and our lives. Its time came to an end recently, but its legacy and history live on. On July 18, this old friend was visited by many local residents who watched as the Linden Tree was taken down. The occasion prompted me to imagine all it had witnessed during its long life, from the early Native Americans to the present day. I fondly remember in 2016 meeting with a Girl Scout troop and a park ranger at the Linden Oak to teach the scouts about the tree’s life and just how old the tree might have been then. They measured the circumference and used basic math skills to calculate the tree’s diameter and estimate its age. Time will tell, as the Linden’s trunk and branches are studied by local park experts. It is my fervent hope that a cross-section will be saved and used as a teaching tool, providing young people with a visual reference for tracing the passage of time. It would be a fitting end to the mighty Linden Oak!

WPA Murals in Montgomery County Post Offices

During the New Deal, the Works Progress Administration funded three new post offices in Montgomery County, Maryland. Each structure reflected local materials and architecture, and artists were hired to paint local historical scenes in their lobbies that would boost civic pride and encourage people to learn about their history through public art.

“The Old Tavern” in Silver Spring, by Nicolai Cikovsky 1937

Silver Spring holds the distinction of having the first federal government-constructed building located in Montgomery County – the 1936 Silver Spring Post Office, at 8412 Georgia Avenue.  This New Deal-era post office itself held the honor of being the first of three post offices in Montgomery County to feature a work of public art, a mural titled “The Old Tavern” by Nicolai Cikovsky.

This 16-ft.-long mural depicted an outdoor view of Civil War soldiers in 1865 reading their mail at Silver Spring’s predecessor community, Sligo.  Included in the painting of what was historically a segregated military unit, a lone African American soldier stands holding a rifle and letter whom the artist said was “…intended to symbolize the result of the Civil War – namely the liberation of his race.”

The mural was located in the post office lobby from 1937 to 1981 when removed from the wall, placed in storage, and forgotten.  Silver Spring historian Jerry A. McCoy relocated it in 1994 and brought it to the attention of the Friends of the Silver Spring Library, who raised $25,000 for its conservation and installation in 1997 at the Silver Spring Library, 8901 Colesville Road.  In 2015 the mural was relocated to 900 Wayne Avenue with the opening of the new Silver Spring Library.

“Montgomery County Farm Women’s Market” in Bethesda, by Robert F. Gates 1939        

The Classical Revival style Bethesda Post Office, at 7400 Wisconsin Avenue, was designed by Karl O. Sonnemann and built by Sofarelli Brothers in 1938 using locally-quarried Stoneyhurst stone. The mural was installed the following year. The painting shows a woman feeding animals next to others selling produce at the Farm Women’s Market, which opened nearby in 1932. It was created by Robert Gates, who later became head of the Art Department at American University.

In 1938, Eleanor Roosevelt visited the Procurement Division of the Treasury Department to view sketches of the mural. She later wrote in her diary that the sketch was “charming” and “I think these post offices are making the country more and more conscious of decorative, artistic values.”

USPS closed the handsome post office building in 2012 and sold it to Donohue Companies, after which the mural spent 17 months in storage. Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center Director Ken Hartman worked with the U.S. Postal Service to have the mural restored. In December 2013 the mural was re-installed in the Regional Services Center at 4805 Edgemoor Lane, where it continues to be enjoyed by the public.

“Sugarloaf Mountain” in Rockville, by Judson Smith 1940

Although the village of Montgomery Court House was granted its first post office in 1794, the function remained in back rooms of local businesses for the next 145 years. Rockville’s first purpose-built, permanent post office was designed in Classical style of limestone and brick, reflective of the 1931 Gray Courthouse nearby. The Moorish look of the exterior opens to a beautiful and functional interior.

Fifteen foot ceilings look down on terrazzo floors and walls, the original bulletin boards and brass postal boxes, and bronze grilles. Most striking is the handsome oil-on-canvas mural of Sugarloaf Mountain by Judson Smith, which was sponsored by the Treasury Department’s Fine Arts Section with funds based on one percent of the total construction cost. Local residents at the time were unhappy that the painting depicted Sugarloaf Mountain, sited just outside of Montgomery County.

On the National Register of Historic Places and designated by the City of Rockville, ownership of this beloved landmark at 2 West Montgomery Avenue was transferred to the City in 2008. After renovation of the historic building and construction of a new annex, it re-opened in 2012 as the home of the Rockville City Police Department.

Sources: Places from the Past, Silver Spring Historical Society, and Peerless Rockville

Upton Bowman House

Bowman, Upton House SS1980
Bowman, Upton House 2010 Trefethian

Before and after pictures of the Upton Bowman House, Germantown, an MPI award winner in 2010.

Grusendorf Log House

Grusendorf Log House, originally on Clopper Road, Germantown, was moved to Seneca Creek State Park and restored and is now used for interpretive programs.

All photos courtesy of Germantown Historical Society

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