Showing posts with label Rockville history. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rockville history. Show all posts

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Major changes proposed for once-iconic, long-vacant Rockville mansion

100 W. Montgomery Avenue in Rockville was once an iconic mansion known as one of the most beautiful homes in town. It's hard to argue with that description looking at old photographs of the Queen Anne-style Victorian home built in 1888 for the wealthy Rebecca Veirs. A 1945 fire changed that, with parts of the home having been destroyed, and then rebuilt with additions that greatly altered its appearance. Also altered was its use, from private home to boarding house. Long vacant, the structure is now deteriorating. 

2009 photo of the home

A redevelopment of the property has now been proposed by its owner and local architect Craig Moloney. It would nod to both the original home, and its later multifamily use at the same time. First, the front of the home would be moved forward on the property, closer to the street like the church next door. Second, Moloney would attempt to more accurately recreate the original appearance of the front facade of the home. The post-1945 additions behind it would be demolished, and replaced with an 8-unit apartment building. A small parking lot for tenants would be constructed behind the proposed building.

2022 photo

2022 photo

The Rockville Historic District Commission will conduct a courtesy review of the proposal at its March 16, 2023 meeting. That review is intended to provide feedback from commissioners, and anyone who wishes to testify at the meeting, to the applicant. It is not going to be a final recommendation that will be voted upon that particular evening.

Proposal to move the front of the
home up to the green dotted line

Planning staff have not recommended approval of the proposal yet, finding that it does not meet at least five of the criteria the HDC uses to evaluate this type of application. The proposed building would be significantly larger than the existing home, and larger than most other homes on W. Montgomery Avenue and S. Adams Street. Remaining historic materials on the house would be lost, and the proposed apartment addition would wrap around three sides of the structure. Staff also found that there was not a structural report submitted that adequately verifies that the existing home is beyond repair, and that the proposal would remove several mature trees from the lot.

"The applicant needs to provide much more information to justify the current proposal," the staff report concludes. "Without a structural report there is no definitive evidence of the building’s condition and the HDC can’t make an educated recommendation. With the provided information the HDC can only recommend the house should be rehabilitated and brought into compliance."

Images courtesy City of Rockville, Google Street View

Monday, November 28, 2022

King Buick GMC closes in Rockville (Photos)

It's the end of an era at King Buick GMC at 16200 Frederick Road in Rockville. The dealership has closed permanently, although some vehicle inventory remains on the property. King Motor Company was born in 1928, but it was in the 1950s that King family scion Conrad V. Aschenbach opened his first dealership in Olde Towne Gaithersburg. His son, Bill Aschenbach, said the family was forced to sell the dealership because it could not find another location in the area. The dealership's property will become an EYA townhome development, and be annexed into the City of Rockville.

Bill Aschenbach says that he will join a new dealership group founded by his son, Conrad. That group expects to have nine dealerships by December 31 of this year. The existing King franchise is being acquired by Criswell Automotive at its Gaithersburg Chevrolet Buick GMC dealership. But many of the King employees from this location will be moving to the Ideal Hyundai Buick GMC dealership in Frederick, Maryland, Aschenbach said.  

This is the second venerable car dealership to be lost along this stretch of MD 355 in the last decade. Reed Brothers Dodge at 15955 Frederick Road was the first Dodge dealer in Montgomery County. Today, the Bainbridge Shady Grove apartments stand on its former site.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Bethesda Juneteenth event to be meaningful celebration with march to save a Montgomery County Black cemetery

Macedonia Baptist Church at 5119 River Road in Bethesda will host a Juneteenth celebration this Sunday, June 19, 2022 from 2:00-4:00 PM. The event will be about a current civil rights struggle as much as a remembrance of past history, as the Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition will lead a march from the church to the nearby site of the Moses African Cemetery. Desecrated by construction workers building the Westwood Tower apartments in the late 1960s, the majority of the gravesites remain hidden under paved parking spaces at the apartment tower, and on a second site across the Willett Branch stream next to the self-storage construction site behind McDonald's. The church and coalition have been battling Montgomery County officials and developers to restore and memorialize the burial ground, prevent any further construction on it, and potentially transfer stewardship of the land to the church.

A banner will be raised on the Capital Crescent Trail bridge over River Road during the ceremony, and a traditional African libation ritual will be presented by Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). Speakers at the event will include former resident of the lost black community on River Road Harvey Matthews, historian C.R. Gibbs, County Council At-Large candidate Brandy Brooks, Circuit Court Judge candidate Marylin Pierre, and activist Robert Stubblefield. 

Musical and dance performers will include Luci Murphy, Karen Wilson Ama Ethefu, Freedome Nsaroma Lee-El, Martha Peterson, and EverGreen Productions. Representatives from the Poor People's Campaign, UNIA, Party for Socialism and Liberation, The Claudia Jones Organization, and the Green Party will also be in attendance.

It will be a celebration, and also a tremendous educational opportunity to learn more about not only the past, but the direct legacy of that past in our own community of Bethesda and Montgomery County. Impacts of the loss of the River Road community in the 1960s included former residents moving and making major contributions to historic and growing African-American communities in East Rockville, Silver Spring and beyond, while still representing that living legacy of the Loughborough plantation in Bethesda. That makes this event of interest to residents of the entire Washington, D.C. region seeking meaningful ways to celebrate Juneteenth this year.

Friday, February 25, 2022

When a Rockville drugstore opening meant free cigars for men, and hot steaks and crab cakes

The postmodernist critique posits that many Americans are nostalgic "for a past that never was." And then that argument gets shattered with the quick perusal of an advertisement for a "Get Acquainted Day" at Peoples Drug in the Twinbrook Shopping Center in 1957 Rockville, Maryland. In contrast to a 21st century where CVS Pharmacy and Walgreens stores open on every other block with little fanfare, this Rockville drugstore opening was a major event. Even Mr. Peanut was on hand.

Look at all of the 1950s cars lined up neatly outside the store. And unlike the Peoples Drug-eating CVS, you were going to leave this event with much more than a receipt you could wrap a mummy in. If you had a family, it was truly going to be a haul. Free Havana No. 9 cigars "for the men!" Free earrings "for the ladies!" Free ice cream cones, comic books and coloring books for the children! And free Coca-Colas, Wilkins Coffee and "miniature loaves" of Bond Bread for everybody (the Bond Bread factory in Washington D.C. still stands at 2146 Georgia Avenue NW).

Today's CVS offers a small convenience store presentation of essential grocery items and snacks. But the 1957 Twinbrook Peoples Drug had real, hot food in its Streamlined Fountain and Grill. There, one could order the "finest sandwiches and special plates," ice cream treats, beverages and platters of steak, veal or crab cakes. Compare that to today, and the devolution of society has rarely come into such stark focus. Sure, we don't need the TV tubes and film development of this Peoples Drug, but when's the last time you got a steak, crab cakes and free Havana No. 9 cigars at CVS?

Friday, February 11, 2022

Rockville HDC to determine historic significance of Great Falls Road home

The Rockville Historic District Commission will consider the historic significance of a property at 500 Great Falls Road at its next virtual meeting, scheduled for February 17, 2022 at 7:00 PM. 500 Great Falls Road is a single-family home in the Rockville Heights subdivision. It was nominated for historic status by historic preservation non-profit Peerless Rockville.

Peerless Rockville nominated the home last year after it noticed the owner beginning significant renovations to the structure. The City of Rockville has asked the owner to state his position on the nomination, but has not received an indication of his approval or opposition to the proposed inclusion of the property in an historic district. However, the owner did request a certificate of approval from the HDC last year for the renovations. He told the commission that moisture retention by the stucco applied to the home was damaging the interior, and rendering the foundation unstable.

The original home at 500 Great Falls Road
flanked by HDC-approved additions now
under construction

The HDC ultimately granted approval for the owner's proposed changes to the property. However, it did not render an official judgement as to the home's designation as historic. Dr. Clara Bliss Hinds Finley, a nationally-known female physician who founded multiple organizations and lectured on women's and children's health, resided in the home during summers between 1916 and and her death in 1940. She is buried in Rockville Cemetery.

City of Rockville Preservation Planner Sheila Bashiri has determined that the property meets the following criteria for historic designation:  It represents the development, heritage, or cultural characteristics of the city, as the home of a women who was a pioneer in her field, Dr. Clara Bliss Finley, and her daughter, a prominent suffragist. Second, it embodies distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, as it is already listed in the city's Historic Buildings Catalogue as a prime representative of the Colonial Revival style. Finally, it is an established visual feature in the Rockville Heights neighborhood. Its surrounding lot, house footprint and massing are intact, and its Colonial Revival architecture and placing on the large corner lot have made it an established visual feature in that community.

For these reasons, Bashiri is recommending the HDC find that the home does meet the criteria for historic designation, and that the commissioners forward a recommendation to the Mayor and Council to place the property in the historic district zone.

Photos courtesy City of Rockville

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

JP Morgan Chase rep trashes renowned Rockville architect in presentation to Mayor & Council

Rockville's Mayor and Council received testimony regarding whether or not the former Meixin Supermarket building at 460 Hungerford Drive should be designated historic last night. They ultimately decided to leave the public record open for another week to receive further comments, meaning a final decision won't come before next Monday at the earliest. While those representing JP Morgan Chase, N.A. in the matter were expected to argue against historic designation, preservation advocates were taken aback when Chase's expert witness went beyond the building at hand, to trash the entire career of renowned Rockville architect James "Jack" Sullivan.

Sullivan has been lauded locally for his many landmark buildings in the city and elsewhere in Montgomery County. Structures like the Rockville Swim Center and Aspen Hill Library remain prime examples of midcentury modern architecture, and the post-World War II growth of our suburban area. The late Sullivan was featured alongside fellow architect Jack Samperton in a documentary for Rockville's Channel 11, A Pair of Jacks. His work, such as 900 Spring Street in Silver Spring, won awards.

But in the words of JP Morgan Chase's expert, Sullivan "was not a master architect," and was "never recognized by his peers." Really? She dismissed Sullivan as "a workaday architect," and said only the Aspen Hill Library qualified as an exceptional building. 

Anyone with a passing knowledge of, or interest in, midcentury modern architecture would find such a critique laughable on its face. Much of Sullivan's work is indeed exceptional, and today's newer buildings most often pale in comparison. While 460 Hungerford Drive may not represent the summit of Sullivan's portfolio, such a savage ravaging of the man's work is farcical when it is proposed to be replaced with a box of a bank branch. No Rockville hearts were won by JP Morgan Chase last night.

Monday, October 4, 2021

Historic status of former Chinese supermarket to be decided in Rockville tonight

There are several significant resolutions on the agenda of the Rockville Mayor and Council tonight. Votes tonight will determine if all City employees must be vaccinated, and if Rockville will expand to take the King Buick GMC dealership property into its boundaries. Also on the agenda: a vote to decide whether the former Meixin Supermarket at 460 Hungerford Drive merits historic designation.

The distinctive Mansard roof-topped structure is one of many Rockville landmarks designed by the architecture firm of the late John "Jack" Sullivan. Sullivan was also responsible for the Aspen Hill Library, the Rockville Swim Center, and the Humble Car Care Center (R.I.P.). The Mayor and Council will have to weigh how many buildings in the Sullivan portfolio must be preserved versus the desire of J.P. Morgan Chase to open a bank branch on the site. 

City staff is recommending against historic designation, arguing the structure does not meet the established criteria. Preservation organization Peerless Rockville contends otherwise. "Peerless contends that the growth of the City in the Mid-Century is truly significant to the development of the city itself and deserved to be fully surveyed, researched, documented and evaluated before the [Historic District] Commission can adequately render judgement on any particular building's significance," wrote Nancy Pickard, Executive Director of Peerless Rockville. Matthew McCool, a Vice-President at J.P. Morgan Chase Bank, N.A. says that if the building is designated historic, the bank branch plan will be canceled.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Montgomery County activists celebrate failure of "racist" cemetery bill in Maryland House

Macedonia Baptist Church on River Road
in Bethesda, where some past members are buried
in the nearby Moses African Cemetery

The Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition celebrated a win in Annapolis Wednesday, as the Maryland House of Delegates declined to bring a controversial cemetery preservation bill to a vote as the 2021 session ended the previous day. HB 1099 was designed to provide funding for a statewide study of African-American burial grounds, and allow specific stakeholders to apply for a separate state grant for the purpose of preserving and commemorating a black cemetery. It had support from many established preservation groups in the state, and initially appeared likely to pass when the session began.

Moses African Cemetery in Bethesda is a prominent example of a black cemetery that was erased from the map in the mid-20th century. The grave markers were bulldozed or removed when the cemetery came into the possession of new landowners. In the late 1960s, the cemetery and many gravesites were further desecrated during the construction of the Westwood Tower apartments. Witnesses at the time have recounted that many remains within the footprint of the building were illegally relocated elsewhere on the property in a mass grave. Remaining graves were paved over for a parking lot for the building.

Such stories are common at African-American burial grounds across Montgomery County, Maryland and the nation. Sadly, many of these stories do not even come to light as development literally paves over the past. 

Even the historic African-American community that existed around Moses cemetery until the 1960s had been erased from County history, until I researched and brought it to light during the BETCO/Hoyt Property redevelopment hearings at the Planning Board in 2011. At the time, I warned the Planning Board, the County Council and the National Capital Planning Commission that there would likely be a cemetery related to that community that had been hidden in the area, and many historical artifacts to be located. 

Those government bodies did not listen. In 2014, the cemetery location was finally pinpointed, thanks to citizens who were contemporary witnesses to it, just as an out-of-state developer prepared to construct a new building and parking garage atop it. Those plans have been temporarily halted, but only thanks to years of effort and protest by cemetery advocates. But no further action has been taken by any branch or level of government to investigate, restore or commemorate the lost community, cemetery and the illegal desecration there.

The BACC, which is now leading efforts to restore and commemorate Moses cemetery, opposed HB 1099 because it "would have paid white preservation groups and their chosen consultants to entrench white supremacist control of historic Black burial grounds and sow division among their descendant communities, all while the desecration of Black burial grounds and cemeteries like Moses continued unabated." Declaring the bill "racist," BACC organized opposition and testimony against the bill as it moved through the legislative process this winter and spring.

When the bill was not brought to a vote Tuesday, the BACC celebrated the successful effort. "Defeating the bill seemed impossible in the face of its support from powerful politicians, developers, and white preservation establishment, bolstered by a calculated media misinformation campaign, but this grassroots mobilization turned delegates against it and killed the bill," the BACC said in a press release yesterday. "H.B. 1099 would have passed without this action, which demonstrates again that the people will always win."

One active front on the Moses cemetery battle is the construction of a self-storage facility on land directly adjacent to the cemetery's property line behind the McDonald's on River Road. That work recently resumed. Concern that remains may have been buried or illegally reburied beyond the cemetery boundaries led cemetery advocates to oppose construction of the facility prior to a thorough archaeological study of the self storage site. 

Montgomery County overruled that request. The County has been so strongly opposed to any archaeological investigation of the cemetery itself, that it not only blocked every attempt to achieve an independent survey, but even acquired a part of the cemetery to prevent any further investigation though private landowners who might cooperate in such efforts.

The self storage developer has retained a credentialed archaeologist, who has determined no remains or funerary objects were encountered during excavation of that site so far. BACC has dismissed that assessment as biased, and continues to hold protests near the construction site. Another protest is scheduled for Wednesday, May 12, 2021 at 5:00 PM at 5204 River Road.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Rockville Senior Center time capsule to be exhumed this month

A time capsule buried 26 years ago at the Rockville Senior Center will be unearthed and opened on Thursday, May 13, 2021 at 5:00 PM. The odd-number anniversary wasn't the original plan in 1995; the pandemic forced the unearthing to be delayed for a year. In another nod to the "new abnormal," the time capsule exhumation will be streamed live on the internet. Register for the free Zoom viewing online. 

What objects were donated to be buried in the time capsule? Tune in to find out, and return to the year when Die Hard with a Vengeance and Batman Forever played in theaters, and Radiohead's The Bends and The Smashing Pumpkins' Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness were being snapped up at Tower Records on Rockville Pike!

Monday, February 22, 2021

Rockville African-American cemeteries could get increased preservation aid under proposed Maryland bill

A bill designed to increase protections for African-American cemeteries in Maryland is a good start, but needs amendments, advocates say. HB-1099, introduced by Montgomery County delegate Al Carr, will receive a public hearing next Wednesday, February 24, 2021 at 1:30 PM. Residents can provide their opinions on the bill during the virtual hearing by signing up online todayMonday, February 22, 2021 between 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM. Rules for testifying can also be found online.

As currently drafted, the bill would create a fund to finance the preservation of African-American cemeteries in the state. It would also fund a study of the obstacles and threats to such preservation. 

The Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition is suggesting four amendments to strengthen and expand the bill: the rights of African-American descendants to the remains of their ancestors and how their resting places will be memorialized and celebrated should be recognized; the bill should address the fact that many black cemeteries are no longer in the hands of the original black landowners, and now often in the hands of developers; create civil and criminal penalties for the desecration of black cemeteries; and elevate the status of descendant communities in the bill to be equal to that of developers, "white preservationist NGOs, [and] big-business cultural resources groups."

BACC notes that some of the organizations currently recognized in the bill have facilitated the desecration of Moses African Cemetery in Bethesda. They should not, therefore, have the same status as the descendants of those buried in the cemetery, BACC argues.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Rockville Mall artifact found

Historical documentation of the infamous Rockville Mall is few and far between. Photographs of the structure are virtually non-existent, even on dead mall websites. Whether such materials were simply destroyed, or slowly disappear via the Mandela Effect or CERN tearing apart the space-time continuum, is unknown. So discovery of any new artifacts from the Rockville Mall is exciting, indeed.

Here we have a matchbook from David Lee's Empress, a Chinese restaurant with a location inside the Rockville Mall. It is currently being auctioned off on eBay. If you ever ate at the Empress, please leave your memories in the comments section below. Meanwhile, my archaeological dig for Rockville Mall ephemera continues. "It belongs in a museum!"

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Rockville "undercover billionaire" finds Camaro Z-28 he drove while student at Richard Montgomery High School

Billionaire Glenn Stearns is best known as TV's Undercover Billionaire, and as the founder of Stearns Lending. Lesser known are his Montgomery County days, when he attended Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville. Stearns never forgot his 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z-28, but never expected to find it again after being forced to sell it later.

But, as he tells Hot Rod magazine, Stearns incredibly found the car while attending a Barrett-Jackson auto auction with football legend John Elway. The Glacier Blue Z "was a known fast car on the streets of Rockville, Maryland, and among fellow students at Richard Montgomery High School," Hot Rod reports.

Now Stearns is once again behind the wheel of the car that once cruised the streets of Rockville. Bidding by phone when he had to leave the auction early for business, the billionaire reclaimed his long lost car. As sports car aficionados know, it's hard to stay "undercover" for long driving a Camaro Z-28.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Proposal to demolish historic Rockville home postponed at Historic District Commission

A review of a controversial proposal to demolish an historic home at 725 N. Horners Lane in Rockville has been "postponed until further notice" by the city's Historic District Commission. City staff had determined the home, which has importance to African-American history in Rockville and Lincoln Park, met several criteria for historic designation. The reason for the postponement was not discussed at the HDC's monthly meeting, but Chair Matthew Goguen said he anticipated the issue would return for review "at a later date."

Friday, January 31, 2020

Rockville native receives posthumous honor from CT governor

Television news anchor Denise D’Ascenzo grew up in Rockville, but is most prominently known as a news anchor in Cleveland and in the Hartford-New Haven market in Connecticut for the last several decades. D’Ascenzo passed away suddenly last month, from what her station WFSB 3 called "a massive heart attack." She was 61.

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont (D) declared Thursday to be Denise D'Ascenzo Day in Connecticut, in honor of her longtime work and service there. A public memorial service was held the previous day in Hartford. “For more than thirty years, Denise D’Ascenzo entered millions of homes through her news broadcasts, becoming an extended member of each of our families,” Governor Lamont said in a statement yesterday. “On behalf of the entire state, our hearts remain with Denise’s family, friends, and colleagues at WFSB.”
MSNBC anchor Hallie Jackson
tweets about D'Ascenzo's passing
In Rockville, D'Ascenzo attended Rockville High School (Class of 1976), and was editor-in-chief of her high school newspaper. She also worked for The Sentinel, which ceases publication this week, in a sad coincidence.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Historic Wire Building for sale again in Rockville

The Wire Hardware building, subject of one of Rockville's biggest historic preservation battles in the 1990s, is up for sale again. Saved and restored by local historic preservation organization Peerless Rockville, the building was originally constructed for resident William Wallace Welsh in 1895. The asking price is not being publicly listed online, but can be requested. 22 Baltimore Road has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1978.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Rockville HDC approval sought for demolition of Beall Avenue home

515 Beall Avenue
The owner of a ranch home at 515 Beall Avenue in West End Park is seeking to tear the house down, and has applied for a ruling of historic significance from the Rockville Historic District Commission. While the West End Park subdivision first saw Victorian homes constructed in the 1890s, according to the HDC staff report, this ranch home was built in 1952 as part of the post-war wave of suburban growth in Rockville.

Preservation planner Sheila Bashiri has recommended against historic designation of the home, and that it meets none of the criteria for historic preservation. The HDC will review the application and report at their meeting tonight, April 18, 2019 at 7:30 PM. This demolition request will very likely be approved, as two very large new-construction homes have already been built adjacent to 515 Beall.
New home proposed for
21 Martins Lane
The HDC will also provide a courtesy review of a new home proposed for 21 Martins Lane. This two-story home would be on a lot behind the historic Hebron House at 17 Martins Lane, in the Haiti/Martins Lane community. Staff is suggesting the HDC encourage the homebuilder to add more windows to what will otherwise be large, blank exterior walls.

More Montgomery County headlines:

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Friday, April 5, 2019

Rockville Post Office mural is now a stamp

The United States Postal Service has issued a new line of stamps commemorating some of the best Depression-era post office murals from around the country. One that made the cut is right here in Rockville, although to make things confusing, it is currently located in the Rockville Police Department headquarters at 2 W. Montgomery Avenue. That's because the police HQ used to be the Rockville post office.

"Sugarloaf Mountain" by artist Judson Smith (1880-1962) was completed in 1940, and depicts the famous local peak south of Frederick near Barnesville. This is the mountain you can easily see from tall buildings in Montgomery County.

You can order the stamps now from the USPS website. A sheet of 10 forever stamps is $5.50. Designed to raise morale in the Great Depression, perhaps the mural can now help raise morale in moribund Montgomery County.

Photo courtesy USPS

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Rockville Cemetery walk scheduled for September 10

"Find a grave" of notable figures in Rockville and American history on Saturday, September 10, from 9:30-11:30 AM, as Peerless Rockville hosts a guided walk through Rockville Cemetery. Dating back to the 1750s, the historic resting place has many familiar names on its grave markers.

Co-sponsored by the Rockville Cemetery Association, the walk will be led by historian Eileen McGuckian. The cost is $15 for the general public, and $10 for members of Peerless Rockville, a historic preservation organization. There are only 40 spots on the tour, so sign up early if you are interested.

To reserve your spot, call 301-762-0096, email, or sign up online. The cemetery is located at 1350 Baltimore Road.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Rockville HDC recommends listing New Mark Commons on National Register of Historic Places

The Rockville Historic District Commission voted last night to recommend that the New Mark Commons development be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. John Hansman, President of the New Mark Commons HOA, said his community's addition to the list would be perfect timing for its 50th anniversary next year.

Hansman testified that the process began when he met a woman at his Bethesda church who had led the effort to list Carderock Springs. That Bethesda community just west of the Capital Beltway along River Road was also built by New Mark Commons' developer, Edmund J. Bennett.

Not everyone is on board for the honor, however. One NMC resident, who said he was also representing several neighbors who couldn't attend, expressed concerns about the impact of the designation. Many in teh community were not aware this process was underway, he said. There is a substantial amount of deferred maintenance in the community, he reported, such as wooden fences that need to be repaired or replaced. He feared that being added to the list would be used as an excuse to not keep the community looking fresh.

HDC Chair Rob Achtmeyer said maintenance issues are a problem in any aging community. He said that code enforcement by the City could address any of those upkeep problems that violate City code. Achtmeyer and preservation planner Sheila Bashiri assured the resident that he and his neighbors would have the opportunity to address the listing when the matter goes before the Mayor and Council, and when it is taken up by the Maryland Historical Trust. They also attempted to distinguish this honorary designation from the more-complicated historic designation, which requires approvals to make exterior changes to your home.

Commissioner Jessica Reynolds said she was comfortable that the community had been informed, and the commission voted to recommend the community be added to the list.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Rockville neighborhood could be listed on National Register of Historic Places

A process that began in 2012 has culminated in the nomination of New Mark Commons to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, pending review by the Rockville Historic District Commission. That review will take place at the commission's next meeting, on Thursday, June 16.

Listing on the register gives an honorary recognition of the historic significance and character of a place, but does not prevent architectural changes to homes, or require the review of the HDC to make such changes. It does require any project involving federal funds, licenses or permits to be reviewed by the federal agency involved to determine if the project will have an adverse impact on the historic character of the listed property.

Inclusion on the register also makes communities and homeowners eligible for historic preservation grants.

The nomination acknowledges New Mark Commons' place in history as an example of "Situated Modernism."  Builder Edmund J. Bennett and architects Keyes, Lethbridge, & Congdon emphasized open space, amenities and mature trees. The community was promoted as "a Twentieth Century village that's one foot in the future and a step back to a better time." Like its contemporaries Reston and Columbia, it also features a lake, even though it reduced Bennett's profits to build it.

Included in the staff report and attachments are many other interesting details on the development and features of New Mark Commons. It's very much worth a read for those interested in Rockville history, planning, architecture, and the times in which this neighborhood was constructed.