Rally for the Moses Cemetery

When: Sunday, November 12, 2017, 1:30—3:30 PM
Where: Macedonia Baptist Church, 5119 River Road, Bethesda, Maryland

For more information, visit the Save Bethesda African Cemetery page on Facebook.

Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission, Nov. 1, 2017.

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Faux homes help new light rail infrastructure blend in D.C. suburbs

Possible Purple Line substation house. MTA photo.

Possible Purple Line substation house. MTA photo.

The Purple Line is a proposed 16-mile light rail corridor. Once completed, it will link suburban communities north of the nation’s capital in Maryland’s Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. First proposed more than a decade ago, state officials breathed new life into the project in 2007 to connect Metro transit stations in New Carrolton and Bethesda as well as the business districts between the two communities.

Planning for the project, including engineering and environmental studies, are underway. Construction could begin as early as 2015 if funding is secured.

Purple Line route. MTA map.

Purple Line route. MTA map.

The Purple Line will require multiple support structures and buildings, including 18 power substations, 14 signal bungalows (small buildings with radio and signal equipment), and a nine-story ventilation tower in Bethesda’s central business district. Residents who live along the proposed alignment told the Washington Post that they are concerned about potential impacts from the power facilities known as traction power substations. Continue reading

Historic 1939 World’s Fair home on the market

A Maryland Realtor emailed to let me know that Silver Spring, Maryland’s 1939 World’s Fair Town of Tomorrow home is on the market. Built as a marketing gimmick and used as collateral advertising for the New York fair, the home has had only two owners since it was completed in the summer of 1939.

Construction progress photo. The Washington Post, June 11, 1939.

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Montgomery County Planning Board Ends Preservationists’ Bid to Designate Silver Spring Church

Yesterday the Montgomery County Planning Board held a session to evaluate whether it should forward a draft amendment to the Master Plan for Historic Preservation that would have designated the First Baptist Church of Silver Spring as historic.

By unanimous consensus, the Planning Board elected to not have a draft amendment prepared, effectively killing the proposal to designate the church. The Planning Board deferred to the 6-2 vote by the Montgomery County Historic Preservation Commission that the property met none of the nine legal criteria for designation.

I wrote briefly about the local preservationists who pursued the designation in an earlier post and I plan a follow-up post on the many issues raised by this case. In the meantime, the testimony I submitted to the Planning Board is reprinted below. The local newspaper, the Montgomery Gazette, reported on the Planning Board’s decision in a post published at its Web site overnight. Continue reading

Putting the history back in historic preservation

Elsie Yuratovich (1921-2005) lived her entire life in Pittsburgh’s Croatian community along the north shore of the Allegheny River. She lived in a frame house overlooking Pennsylvania Route 28, the railroad, and the disappearing industrial landscape in which she grew up.

I met Elsie while researching Pittsburgh’s leather and livestock industries and we spoke many times between 1996 and 2000. Elsie would send me long letters, newspaper clippings, and photographs. In fact, when the Pittsburgh Wool Company was demolished in 2000, Elsie stood at her beloved Croatian Orthodox Church just above the site and she snapped several photos. Those were the last photos I have of the building I had spent years documenting. Continue reading

2011 snow storm: waiting for help that never arrived

Last week we had a little snow storm that created huge problems for the Washington metropolitan area. A downed power line sent flames and smoke into our yard as the wire remained draped on our wood fence 20 feet away from our house. Using landlines and cellphones, our neighborhood was unable to reach Montgomery County 911 to report the downed lines and fire. We subsequently spent 45 hours without power (and heat) and we were lucky.

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Family Dry Cleaners may be ousted from Silver Spring

Downtown Silver Spring may lose another locally owned and operated business. According to a November Silver Spring Singular blog post, the Peterson Companies are pressuring the Family Dry Cleaners to leave the prominent Wayne Avenue Shopping Center location they have occupied since 2000 when the center opened. The dry cleaner’s lease expires next March. The blogger wrote that Peterson — which manages Downtown Silver Spring under an agreement with Montgomery County — is courting CVS to occupy the space now held by the cleaners, along with adjacent spaces formerly occupied by Hollywood Video and MotoPhoto (later, an Upscale Pharmacy outlet).

Family Dry Cleaners, Downtown Silver Spring. Photo by the author, December 2010.

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Montgomery County Planning Board tosses Historic Preservation Commission votes, recommends new historic districts

The Montgomery County Planning Board last night voted to create two new historic districts in Clagettsville and Etchison in the county’s Upper Patuxent Planning Area. Last night’s meeting was the second work session held on proposed Master Plan for Historic Preservation designations since an October public hearing. Originally scheduled for early 2011, last night’s session was hastily added to the agenda because a property owner in one of the proposed historic districts pleaded with the Planning Board at its last work session on the designations to decide on her property before a purchase contract expires the end of the year. Continue reading

Montgomery County, Md., Josiah Henson-Uncle Tom’s Cabin Links Roundup

A new page aggregates links to blog posts and news stories about the Montgomery County, Maryland, park originally called “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”: Josiah Henson and “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” links roundup.

Please leave your suggestions for additions in this post’s comments field.


Montgomery County Council responds to “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” blog post

Yesterday, I received the email quoted below from former Montgomery County Council president Nancy Floreen in response to my blog post on Montgomery County employees writing letters to the editors of local newspapers on behalf of private citizens. Continue reading