Roadside Montgomery

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The exuberant mid-century modern design of commercial signs captures the entrepreneurial spirit of mom and pop shops that thrived during the post-World War II population boom of Montgomery County. With loud colors and catchy shapes, the quirky signs howled for the attention of passing motorists. In recent years, the style has been dubbed Googie, after… Read more »

Montgomery Professional Building (1960)

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Architect: Thomen and Cromar 911 Silver Spring Avenue, Silver Spring The Montgomery Professional Building, located on Silver Spring Avenue, in downtown Silver Spring, was designed by architects Thomen and Cromar. The current photos in this post were taken May 21, 2014. Exactly 54 years earlier, the Washington Post published Thomen and Cromar’s proposed scheme for… Read more »

USI Robodyne Automation Center (1961) 12345 Columbia Pike

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Robots in Silver Spring Who knew? Silver Spring was home to a pioneering robot. The TransfeRobot was an early standardized, off-the-shelf programmable robot, developed in 1958 and offered for sale in 1959. U. S. Industries started making the robots at 949 Bonifant Ave (more on that later).  The firm quickly outgrew that building and moved out to… Read more »

Endangered Species–History Edition

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  Today, the National Trust for Historic Preservation released their annual list of the 11 most endangered places in the U.S. While none of them are in Montgomery County, the list includes two mid-century modern buildings–the Worldport Terminal at JFK Airport and the Houston Astrodome–a recogonition that recent history is also historic. In fact, The… Read more »

New Geometry for a New Era: Sligo Adventist Elementary School (1963), 8300 Carroll Avenue, Takoma Park

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Montgomery County in the mid-century era experienced great change. Montgomery was the fourth fastest growing county in the nation. The population grew from less than 90,000 in 1946 to nearly 580,000 by 1974. Change also came in the pace of life, as cars and new highways enabled ever increasing speeds, but also in the scale… Read more »

Operations Research Institute (1963), 1400 Spring Street

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This sleek blue building, constructed in 1963, is another mid-century modern gem in downtown Silver Spring. Built three years after the American National Bank Building, the Operations Research Institute building was designed by prolific local architect Ted Englehardt. Previously we blogged about Englehardt’s Weller’s Dry Cleaning. For the Operations Research Institute, Englehardt designed an International… Read more »

Architectural photographer of modernism, Julius Shulman

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This post is not specifically about Montgomery County, but it’s about a great film I recently saw that really sets modernism in context. It’s Visual Acoustics, the documentary of a man helped bring modern American design into the forefront: architectural photographer Julius Shulman (1910-2009). Through his spectacular photos, it is said that Shulman defined the… Read more »

MontgomeryModern: discover Mid-Century Modern buildings during Preservation Month

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MontgomeryModern explores mid-century modern buildings and communities that reflect the optimistic spirit of the post-war era in Montgomery County, Maryland. From International Style office towers to Googie style stores and contemporary tract houses, MontgomeryModern celebrates the buildings, technology, and materials of the Atomic Age, from the late 1940s through the 1960s. A half century later,… Read more »

Mid-Century Architecture Gets its Due

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Guest post by Scott Whipple The Washington Post’s “Where We Live” blog recently featured Washington area mid-century architecture (Washington’s mid-century modern neighborhoods | Washington’s mid-century modern neighborhoods, part 2), making mention of a number of Montgomery County’s recent past resources — including the Rock Creek Woods, Hammond Wood, and Carderock Springs National Register historic districts…. Read more »