Montgomery County’s first AAPI Heritage Project is examining the history of AAPI county residents as early as the 1900s
By Karen Yee
Of the 86,000 sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the nation’s repository of historic structures, sites, buildings, districts and objects that are deemed significant to American history, less than 8% relate to Asian Americans and other underrepresented communities. In Montgomery County, where 15% of residents are Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI), there is only one locally designated resource associated with AAPI heritage, the Pao-Chi and Yu Ming Pien House. Even this house was only recently recognized—it is located within the Potomac Overlook Historic District, designated in April 2022. In order to address this … Continue reading
Community input sheds light on Montgomery County history
By Kacy Rohn, in collaboration with Montgomery History
Over the summer, we published a blog post seeking input on an unanswered question about an abbreviation used on Martenet & Bond’s 1865 Map of Montgomery County. The map frequently used the letter “P” following individual’s names but didn’t indicate what that meant. Without a key to the map, we considered several meanings: could it be “place,” “principal,” “plantation,” or “pump?” This was a mystery even to the original mapmaking company, S.J. Martenet & Co., whose records of the map’s production were lost in the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904.
In partnership with Montgomery History, we put out a call for suggestions and received nearly 100 … Continue reading
Written by Kacy Rohn, in collaboration with Montgomery History
Update: After receiving nearly 100 community submissions, see our best guess for the meaning of the letter “P” in this blog post.
Historic maps are key to understanding Montgomery County’s evolution. They reveal past social and economic systems, patterns of development and decline, and evolving transportation networks. Many of these maps have been closely studied for years, but they still hold mysteries about the county’s past. We are seeking input from county residents and historians to unravel a question about Martenet & Bond’s 1865 map of Montgomery County.
The map was published by Simon J. Martenet, a surveyor and civil engineer based … Continue reading
Planners use high tech tools to bring a historic headstone’s inscription back to life
By Brian Crane, PhD and Kacy Rohn
In the Planning Department, we talk a lot about the future. But much of our work is rooted in the past. We learn from history and we also help preserve it. Our county’s cemeteries are a treasure trove of information. Genealogists and history buffs love cemeteries for all the family history they contain, but time and nature pose challenges. Some historic gravestones have become so weathered, it’s almost impossible to read them.
New technologies have come to the rescue, offering ways to recover those lost inscriptions without damaging the stone. In November, someone contacted the county for help … Continue reading
Exuberant roof forms are a hallmark of mid-century modern architecture. In contrast to the simple gable roofs of traditional design, modernist architects employed a wide variety of inventive forms. The zig-zag roof of Sligo Elementary School was featured in a previous Montgomery Modern posting.
The soaring rooftop of the National Library of Medicine is a hyperbolic paraboloid concrete shell, designed by O’Connor & Kilham of New York. This distinctive feature represents concerns of the Atomic Age—in the event of a nuclear bomb blast, the centralized opening was intended to provide for pressure release.
The folded roof feature at Green Acres School provides visual interest and brings light into the central multi-purpose room.
Accomplished modernist architect Eason Cross died on January 28, 2016. A Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, Cross was a principal of Cross & Adreon, a firm known for modernist residential developments designed to harmonize with nature. Their projects received prestigious design awards when they were first built 50 years ago, and these communities have continued to receive recognition for being outstanding places in which to live. The work of Cross & Adreon was recently featured in David Frey’s “30 Great Neighborhoods” in the current issue of Bethesda Magazine (Mar/Apr 2016) (pdf).
Cross worked seven years in the offices of prominent local architect Charles Goodman, first as draftsman and later as associate architect. In this capacity, he designed houses … Continue reading
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 colorful California coffee shops of the day. These roadside signs are a record of the past, modern design, and the independent businesses that were staples to county residents.
Sporting a tall cold beverage, the sign for Talbert’s Ice and Beverage Service advertises cold beer, dry ice, and regular ice. The store building, at 5234 River Road in Bethesda, was built in 1946, according to … Continue reading
I like to revisit posts I have done. Not long ago I wrote about putting a value on historic preservation. Three recent developments bring me back to the subject. First, the Historic Preservation Commission recently approved 39 applications for the county’s historic preservation tax credits. The 39 projects represent nearly $1.5 million in private investment in historic properties in communities across the county. This is a good thing. As discussed in the previous post, money spent on historic preservation projects demonstrates a strong multiplier effect, making investments in historic rehabilitation particularly beneficial for local economics, jobs and businesses. The number of tax credit projects also bears note. The 39 projects represent perhaps a quarter, or less, of the projects … Continue reading
The value of historic preservation is often expressed in terms that are difficult to quantify. We are preserving cultural patrimony, maintaining a sense of place, safeguarding our architectural heritage.
But what if we could hang a number on the value of historic preservation? Actually, we can.
Look at tax credits issued for rehabbing historic properties. Montgomery County provides a 10-percent tax credit for qualified work on properties listed in the County’s Master Plan for Historic Preservation or located in County-designated historic districts. The State of Maryland and federal government also offer rehabilitation tax credits that some property owners may be able to receive on top of the county’s program.
In 2012, the historic preservation commission reviewed applications for the … Continue reading
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 Style office building with beautiful turquoise spandrel panels made of porcelain enamel.
Developer Carl M. Freeman moved his offices here in 1964. The firm occupied the first and part of the second floors. Freeman, who pioneered the modernist garden apartment in the DC area, was at this time one of the top 12 builders in the country.