A symbol of the fight against racial segregation, former elementary school given historic designation in Montgomery County
July 19, 2023
Edward U. Taylor School site in Boyds added to county’s Master Plan for Historic Preservation
WHEATON, Md. – The Montgomery County Council unanimously voted July 11 to add the former Edward U. Taylor Elementary School property to the county’s Master Plan for Historic Preservation. The County Council’s vote designating the Taylor School a historic site aligns with the recommendations of the Montgomery County Planning Department and the Montgomery County Planning Board, both part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC).
The Taylor School was built in 1952 as an elementary school for Black students at a time when Montgomery County used legally sanctioned racial segregation to prohibit Black children from attending white schools. The facility was built to modern school design standards and represents the movement by the county’s Black community to have better facilities and opportunities after decades of public underinvestment in educational facilities for Black children. One of the last schools to be desegregated in 1961, the Taylor School was the only segregated Black elementary or high school that retained its original use as a school building when it integrated.
“Montgomery Planning commends the County Council for designating the Edward U. Taylor Elementary School site historic,” said Acting Planning Director Tanya Stern. “The Taylor School is a significant landmark in the fight against racial segregation in Montgomery County and the nation and educates current and future generations about the struggle to integrate schools. Adding it to the county’s Master Plan for Historic Preservation ensures the inspiring efforts of individuals like Edward U. Taylor and Black organizations, parents, and teachers to obtain quality educational facilities for Black children in the mid-20th century will never be forgotten.”
The draft amendment to add the Taylor School to the county’s Master Plan for Historic Preservation also proposed adding the former Weller’s Dry Cleaning site in Silver Spring to the master plan. The County Council followed the Planning Board’s recommendation and voted to not designate the Weller’s property historic.
Historic designation criteria are established in Chapter 24A in the Montgomery County Code. The Council evaluated the sites against the criteria and found that the Edward U. Taylor School met the following criteria:
- 24A-3(b)(1)a. Historical and cultural significance. The historic resource has character, interest, or value as part of the development, heritage or cultural characteristics of the county, state, or nation.
- 24A-3(b)(1)d. Historical and cultural significance. The historic resource exemplifies the cultural, economic, social, political, or historic heritage of the county and its communities.
- 24A-3(b)(2)e. Architectural and design significance. Represents an established and familiar visual feature of the neighborhood, community, or county due to its singular physical characteristic or landscape.
More about the Edward U. Taylor School site
The former Edward U. Taylor School (19501 White Ground Road, Boyds, MD) is a Modern Movement-influenced building that was completed in 1952, and features several additions built between 1954 and 1969. The building serves as the Taylor Science Center for processing and storing science kits for Montgomery County Public Schools. The recommendation to study the school was brought forward in the MARC Rail Communities Plan, which was approved by the County Council in April 2019. In 2022, the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) found the school site met the requirements in the County Code to be designated through its evaluation process.
View a short video on the legacy of the Edward U. Taylor School. View the September 2022 Edward U. Taylor Elementary School Master Plan for Historic Preservation Designation Form.
About the historic preservation process
Designating a place for historic preservation is based on criteria set forth in Chapter 24A-3 of the County Code. The decision to designate a property begins with a completed research form from The Maryland Historic Trust and is reviewed by the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC), the Montgomery County Planning Board, and the Montgomery County Council. The County Council has the final say on what gets designated historic. When the County Council includes a property in the Master Plan for Historic Preservation, all changes to the outside of the property must be reviewed by the HPC before issuing any permits. Examples of current Master Plan Historic Sites and Districts include:
- Archeological sites and mill ruins along stream valleys
- Farms, banks, and meeting houses, associated with the Quaker heritage
- Lock houses, aqueducts, mines, and quarries, boarding the Potomac River and the Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) canal
- Rivers fords and encampment sites of the Civil War
- Early African American communities
- Early suburbs developed along the route of the Baltimore & Ohio (B&O) railroad
- Small-scale commercial blocks and gas stations from the early automobile era
- Major government complexes such as the Bethesda Naval Hospital and the National Institutes of Health
- Postwar housing that shaped suburban development
About the Historic Preservation Office
Montgomery Planning’s Historic Preservation Office (HPO) identifies, protects, and explores historically significant built places throughout the county, ultimately preserving the past to enrich the future. HPO is responsible both for administering regulations around designating and maintaining historical sites and for digging into the county’s history to better inform the decision makers planning our future.
The HPO strives to help improve the natural and built environments of Montgomery County. The county’s historic fabric has irrevocably informed every corner of the county, from the Ag Reserve to Silver Spring, and understanding HPO’s role is a critical part of planning. Americans are aware of such public history in ways that they have not been in a generation, and the HPO aims to share that history as broadly as possible. Though the Historic Preservation Office focuses on the built environment (which distinguishes us from other historic societies), HPO also has resources for genealogy, tax credits, and more. From restoring and promoting specific sites to painting a more complete picture of the diverse people and places that shaped—and continue to shape—the modern Montgomery County, the HPO helps ensure that future plans are informed by and reflected in a thorough, critical appreciation of what came before. History lives with us in the present.