Despite the rainy weather, more than one hundred volunteers came to the Stepping Stones Shelter in the Jefferson Square/Hungerford section of Rockville today as part of the National Day of Service commemorating 9-11. When I arrived at 1 pm, it was buzzing with people. They had removed carpet from the house exposing the original oak floors, were fixing radiator covers on the front porch, clearing LOTS of brush from the woods, and refinishing picnic tables in the back yard to make the historic house a more attractive and enjoyable place for its residents and staff. The project in Rockville launched a three-year partnership between Rebuilding Together and Choice Hotels International (the Comfort Inn, EconoLodge people) to rehabilitate 10,000 houses nationally with 200,000 volunteers. The local Montgomery County affiliate plans to complete twenty more projects in the next two months. The event attracted a variety of community leaders, including Congressman Chris Van Hollen, Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, Maryland Delegate Jim Gilchrist, and Gaithersburg Mayor Sidney Katz, most of whom gave speeches and posed for cameras.
If you’re not familiar with Stepping Stones, it’s a homeless shelter located in the grand 1912 Dawson House, a Rockville Historic Landmark. They’ve done a great job of maintaining it and shows how historic places can continue to fill an important use in our community. You may have never seen this house since it’s tucked inside a townhouse development, but go inside the drive to the right and you’ll see the first Dawson House (from the 1800s) and then continue around the bend and you’ll come across the other one. You can also see it from the adjacent Dawson Farm Park. What nice surprises to encounter in this postwar housing development. Glad they weren’t demolished.