Planning Board Recommends Approval of the Potomac Overlook Historic District at November 18 Meeting

November 19, 2021

Black and white two story house at Potomac Overlook
The Amendment is the first Mid-Century Modern historic district

Wheaton, MD — The Montgomery County Planning Board, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, voted to list the Potomac Overlook Historic District in the Locational Atlas and District of Historic Sites and recommended that the County Council designate the district in the Master Plan for Historic Preservation on November 18, 2021. The approval follows a process started by the community in 2019, studied by the Montgomery Planning Historic Preservation Office, and approved by the Historic Preservation Commission in June 2021.

Read the Public Hearing Draft for Potomac Overlook Historic District: An Amendment to the Master Plan for Historic Preservation. View the amendment’s appendix and the Potomac Overlook Design Guidelines.

“We are pleased that the Board voted to send forward our first midcentury modern historic district designation to the Council,” said Planning Director Gwen Wright. “This represents a true collaboration between our historic preservation team and the property owners, who worked together to create their design guidelines and collect community histories. Asian American and women’s histories are also celebrated in this nomination and we look forward to sharing these stories with the Council and general public.”

Builder Edmund J. Bennett and the architecture firm of Keyes, Lethbridge, and Condon developed Potomac Overlook in the late 1950s. The partnership celebrated the aesthetic design, functional advantages, and untapped commercial potential for modern architecture in tract housing and recognized the importance of creating communities respectful of the existing natural surroundings, topography, and tree canopy. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) awarded them the “excellence of their cooperative efforts to create better homes and communities for Americans” award in 1961.

This amendment recognizes the achievements of six of the first owners who influenced local, state, and national affairs: Pao-Chi and Yu Ming Pien, Dorothy Gilford, Helen Wilson Nies, and Abraham M. and Helen W. Sirkin. Their achievements reflect the following themes: Asian American heritage, Jewish American heritage, women’s history, law, and mathematics, science, and engineering.

The Evaluation Process

Designation of resources to the Master Plan for Historic Preservation requires the approval of the Historic Preservation Commission, Planning Board and County Council. In June 2021, the Historic Preservation Commission recommended that the Planning Board lists the Potomac Overlook Historic District in the Locational Atlas and Index of Historic Sites and recommends that the County Council designates the resources as a Master Plan Historic District. Following the Planning Board’s approval, the County Council will move to review the amendment.

About the Historic Preservation Office

The Historic Preservation Office supports the Montgomery County Planning Board and the Historic Preservation Commission by providing for the identification, designation and regulation of historic sites in Montgomery County. Historic Preservation staff also maintains an archive and library of documentation on historic resources in Montgomery County and provides preservation outreach and guidance on preservation best practices to the public.

If you are interested in historic buildings, sites and programs in Montgomery County parks, visit the Montgomery County Parks website for more information.