Last Thursday the Historic District Commission held its regular monthly meeting and if anyone was watching to the end, you may have noticed that the clock was nearing midnight. We usually try to finish at 10 pm but we had an ambitious agenda, including:
1. A joint meeting with the Environment Commission, which included three Planning Commissioners. The City has about two dozen commissions and boards but they rarely, if ever, talk with each other, even if they share some common goals or are tackling the same issue. This past year the HDC has requested meetings with other commissions but it’s been slow because finding mutual agreeable times is difficult and sometimes, I regret to say, the Chair of the other commission refused to respond to emails or phone calls to meet (what’s that about??). So far, we’ve met with the Planning Commission and this month with the Environment Commission. These meetings are just an hour so no decisions are made, but they provide introductions and we learn a bit more about each other to discover areas of mutual interest. It’s obvious that the Environmental Commission and the HDC both want to encourage Continue reading →
Today the demolition crew continued its work and removed nearly all the brick walls of the historic Chestnut Lodge. So many people are interested in this place (my blog logged nearly 600 views today and lots of comments–thanks to everyone for sharing) that I’ll share some photos from today’s demolition as well as the press conference. Mary, my wife and Executive Director at Peerless Rockville, was busy the entire day fielding calls from the press and responding to questions.
This morning at about 3 am, Chestnut Lodge caught fire and nearly burned to the ground. All that currently survives are the brick walls and they are in extremely fragile condition. Arson is suspected and after the investigation is completed in the next few days, I believe the entire building will be demolished to protect public safety. The City of Rockville just lost one of its most significant historic landmarks.
Chestnut Lodge began its life as the Woodlawn Hotel, a resort that attracted residents from Washington DC, and ended as Chestnut Lodge, the internationally renowned sanitarium that included such pre-eminient psychologists as Dr. Frieda Fromm Reichman. The four-story French Second Empire building in its park-like setting provided a visual anchor for the West End neighborhood. Its abandonment in 2001 caused wide concern in the city but eventually Chestnut Lodge Properties purchased it with plans to rehabilitate it into eight luxury condominiums. At this time, its future is unclear– Continue reading →