Rockville’s OLBN Architectural Services is leading the efforts to preserve and restore Clara Barton’s Civil War-era office and warehouse on 7th Street in downtown Washington, DC–where she worked and lived before founding the American Red Cross in 1881. The historic site doesn’t open to the public as a museum until fall 2014 but last week I had a special sneak peak at the work underway.
From the street, you’d never imagine that this was a nationally significant historic site. It’s a simple three-story brick building in Penn Quarter surrounded by restaurants, towering condos and offices, popular museums, and the Verizon Center. Its historical significance was forgotten for most of the century until 1997, when a nightwatchman hired to keep vagrants out of the vacant building noticed a document jutting out from the ceiling. It turned out to be part of a cache of artifacts belonging to Clara Barton that had been stored in the Continue reading →
A weekday farmers market sponsored by The JBG Companies will open in Twinbrook May 7, bringing an array of new fresh food choices to the community and to the many daytime employees that work in the busy area.
First offerings in the market will feature farm fresh fruits and vegetables from Twin Springs Fruit Farm, handmade artisan breads from Upper Crust Bakery and traditionally cured meats from MeatCrafters. More farm vendors are expected, along with artists and their wares. The arrival of the farmers market will complement the growing presence of mobile food trucks, which are also adding new food options on weekdays in Twinbrook. Both initiatives result from the desire of Twinbrook residents and area workers for a variety of attractions as new offices and residential options arrive.
“Twinbrook is fortunate to have the bones of strong neighborhoods, good transit, roads and workforce,” said Rod Lawrence of The JBG Companies, a major real estate investment and development firm based in Montgomery County. “If we can contribute to the daily working and living experience here with new food options, that’s an extra dimension that makes Twinbrook an even better community.”
The new farmers market will be open from 9:30 to 1:30 every Tuesday, May through November in the courtyard between 5625 and 5635 Fishers Lane, just east of the Twinbrook Metro station.
JBG recently hosted a Saturday clean-up of Rock Creek Park at its Twinbrook edge, removing more than 5,000 pounds of debris from the stream bed and hillsides. The company has also scheduled a pit stop on Bike-to-Work Day on May 17, at the east end of Fishers Lane. More than 60 people have already signed up for that event and more are welcome by registering at www.twinbrookurbanbynature.com.
VisArts opens Rockville’s Rooftop this Friday evening, April 26, with an open house for friends and families. The open house begins at 5:00 pm as DJ CBreeze, Rooftop Live’s curator of Intelligent Dance Music, will be warming things up early with a powerful Cajun/House/Zydeco vibe and a blues performances by Bad Influence and Mary Shaver at 8:00 pm.
Rooftop Live is an arts-themed music lounge open under the stars and atop Rockville Town Square. VisArts recently took over the management of the Rooftop and will be presenting live entertainment Thursday and Friday nights during the summer. The Rooftop is on the 6th floor of 155 Gibbs Street in downtown Rockville (above La Tasca and La Canela restaurants).
It was a beautiful day to explore New Mark Commons, the exceptionally well-designed mid-century neighborhood west of downtown Rockville. Hosted by Peerless Rockville, a standing-room only crowd of about 60 people gathered in the Clubhouse to hear an illustrated lecture by Dr. Isabel Gournay of the University of Maryland. Rose Krasnow, a longtime resident and former administrator of New Mark Commons, provided the introductory remarks. Afterwards, about half the group walked the neighborhood to visit a single-family house on Radburn and a townhouse on the lake–plus a surprise invitation to visit a second townhouse. Two more neighborhoods will be visited in the next month–the Americana Centre and King Farm–so if you’d like architecture and local history, these are a perfect way to enjoy both.
One of the best things in Rockville are the parks. One of the best things near Rockville are the parks–and one of the best is Brookside, a county-owned horticultural garden just a few miles south of town near Glenmont. It features a variety of garden types, including Japanese, walled, rose, and naturalistic and while it’s fun to visit throughout the year, spring brings out a long display of flowers. Right now, the daffodils and cherry trees are at peak but will soon be followed by tulips and azaleas. If you visit on the weekends, I recommend arriving before 11 am (gates open at sunrise). Don’t forget that enjoying nature isn’t a luxury, it’s essential for mental fitness.
Last night the Rockville Sister City Corporation held a wine-tasting at Glenview Mansion as a fundraiser for the longstanding non-profit organization. Nearly fifty people attended, which was twice the expectations, delighting president Brigitta Mullican. Among the attendees were Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio and Councilmember Mark Pierzchala, and two Council candidates: Beryl Feinberg and Julie Palakovich Carr.
The paneled dining room of Glenview made for an ideal setting for socializing with a nice glass of wine while supporting a local non-profit organization. The wine tasting was focused on white wines, with five selections from Germany, Spain, and the United States. A blind tasting of a range from chablis to riesling to sauvignon blanc challenged people to use their senses to identify the wine. Thankfully, it was limited to five distinct wines and an identification list was provided so I had a fighting chance to get one right.
Fundraisers like this are becoming increasingly difficult for non-profits in Maryland. Costs and regulations continue to increase, which is either eliminating these traditional community events or significantly reducing the income. For example, health codes that affect restaurants are also applied to these one-time small fundraising events as well, so the traditional bake sale featuring homemade goods is nearly impossible and serving meals requires a commercial kitchen with three sinks (yes, three). If this continues, I’m guessing that lemonade stands and pancake breakfasts will soon require health permits and liability insurance. Let’s hope our elected officials in Annapolis and City Hall are watching this trend as much as they are watching casinos and traffic cams.
The best Memorial Day party this side of the Bay Bridge is coming soon. Rockville’s Hometown Holidays will celebrate 25 years of music, food, and fun in town center next month. The weekend will include five stages with more than 30 bands, the Chamber of Commerce’s Taste of Rockville event with area restaurants participating, amusements and entertainment for children, and the Memorial Day ceremony and parade. Events start at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 25 and continue through Monday, May 27. In the 25 years since Hometown Holidays began, 1.2 million people have enjoyed the event.
Performing on Saturday will be:
- Maryland native Shane Gamble Band, performing at 4:30 p.m. on the Regal Stage
- Country singer-songwriter Sunny Sweeney will headline Saturday evening’s concert line up
- The Dirty Guv’nahs, a six-piece rock-n-roll collective
Performing on Sunday will be:
- Christylez Bacon, a progressive hip-hop artist from Washington, D.C., performing at 6:30 p.m. on the Town Square Stage.
- The Waiting, a tribute band to Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
- The Nighthawks, an award-winning DC-based blues and roots rock band
Watch Rockville’s Channel 11 for Hometown Holidays All Access, a show previewing some of the musical talent coming to Rockville this Memorial Day weekend. For updated information, visit www.rockvillemd.gov/hth.
The City’s Hometown Holidays Facebook page (www.facebook.com/RockvilleHometownHolidays) will be updated as the celebration nears, so stay tuned there for announcements of more bands and food vendors.
Nearly sixty people gathered this morning for an illustrated lecture on the history of Twinbrook by Dr. Richard Longstreth of George Washington University. In the 1940s and 1950s, Joseph Geeraert developed Twinbrook on a 200-acre farm that spanned Viers Mill Road. Geeraert’s Twinbrook was roughly south of Broadwood between Rockville Pike and Baltimore Road, although today Twinbrook is considered to be much larger and runs up to First Avenue (much to the consternation of those who live in the neighborhoods of Viers Mill Village and Silver Rock).
Geeraert was born in Belgium but came to America as a young man, getting started in construction in Takoma Park. Although he had many projects around the Washington, DC region, Twinbrook was his largest, longest running, and most complex development. He built as funding came available and eventually these small developments interconnected to become the neighborhood of houses, schools, churches, library, post office, and shopping centers that we know today. Most people who drive through Twinbrook assume the houses are all the same, but Geeraert modified and enlarged the designs over time to appeal to the changing tastes of buyers.
After the lecture, the audience discussed the names of streets, racial discrimination, and evolving construction practices. Then about half of the group went on a short walk around the neighborhood to see various types of houses and take a stroll on a hidden walkway. It was great to see so many current and former Twinbrookers (including some who lived here for 50 years!) and to hear their stories of living in the neighborhood.
This lecture is the first in a series on Rockville’s recent neighborhoods, so check Peerless Rockville’s website for the times and dates of upcoming events, as well as a two new interpretive maps of Twinbrook.
Last night, the Rockville Community Coalition held a forum on the proposed revisions to the Rockville City Charter, the city’s “constitution”. The Mayor and Council appointed a Charter Review Commission last year to review the charter and develop recommendations to increase voter participation. The commission suggested increasing the terms from 2 to 4 years, increasing the city council from 5 to 7 seats, and aligning the city election with the presidential election cycle. Those ideas were debated last night with lively comments, questions, and observations by the audience of about three dozen people, which included Councilmembers Hall, Moore, and Pierzchala. The City Council is currently considering whether any of these recommendations go to the ballot this fall as an advisory measure, or if they wish to take action immediately.
Good points were made for all positions and rather than share them here, I suggest you watch the forum on YouTube. It should be available in a week or so.
In a series of illustrated presentations and walking tours this spring, Peerless Rockville will explore several of Rockville’s modern neighborhoods, including Twinbrook, New Mark Commons, and King Farm.
Free and open to the public, the series will highlight five neighborhood communities from the early postwar housing boom to mid-century planned development to the “new town” movement popular at the end of the century. The series will culminate in an evening lecture and panel discussion at Rockville City Hall on the factors that influenced modern development, the significant elements of each time period, and the special features of each community that have contributed to its success and left lasting imprints.
The schedule for the upcoming series:
Building Houses, Creating Community: Joseph Geeraert and Twinbrook, featuring professor Dr. Richard Longstreth of George Washington University, Saturday, March 23, 10 am at the Twinbrook Community Center Annex.
Woodley Gardens: A Traditional Red Brick Neighborhood with a Modern Feel, featuring Continue reading →