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.
Get to know your city a bit better through the upcoming Homes and Hospitality Tour on Saturday afternoon, May 12. Peerless Rockville organizes this special one-day exploration of a neighborhood every two years, and this year’s focus is East Rockville. Most people don’t realize that this neighborhood east of the tracks not only has one of the densest collections of historic houses, but also some award-winning contemporary homes. Once directly connected to downtown Rockville via Baltimore Road, after the streets were rerouted in the mid-20th century, East Rockville became hidden and forgotten, with many of the houses being cut up into apartments or falling into disrepair. During the last couple decades, however, young couples and entrepreneurial investors saw the potential of this derelict neighborhood and began restoring the historic houses or building new ones on rare empty lots. Interest in this neighborhood continues to grow given its long history, its architectural diversity, and its proximity to Metro, MARC, and downtown.
The Tour includes six different places to visit at your own pace and in any order: three historic houses, two modern houses, and one public building. All have remarkable stories (one of the first electrified houses in the city, another linked to a typhoid epidemic, and another that stands on a former “laboratory to prepare for Armageddon”–wow!) and by exploring them together, you’ll leave with a new appreciation for your community and be inspired by the care of your fellow residents (several have won awards). Unlike most home tours, however, the event is staffed by many community leaders (so you may greeted by your Mayor, Police Chief, or State Delegate), many local restaurants provide refreshments (such as Carmen’s Ice Cream and Tower Oaks Lodge), and music is provided by local artists and students. For $25, it’s a bargain for a special afternoon in your own town (and a great gift for Mother’s Day!) but if you buy in advance or if you’re a Peerless Rockville member, you can get a discount of up to 25% off. Get your tickets in advance at PeerlessRockville.org or on the day of the event at the Pump House at 401 South Horner’s Lane.
This morning’s Peerless Rockville tour of the Alaire not only provided an intimate behind-the-scenes tour with representative of JBG of this award-winning combination of residences and stores, but also discussed the plans and timing for several projects in the Twinbrook Metro area. About a dozen people joined the conversation to see the lobby, common rooms, and a one-bedroom apartment of the Alaire, then went out onto the street to discuss the current and upcoming development for the region. Among the items that caught my ears:
1. WMATA owns the land and has leased it to JBG for 99 years. That means that projects need to be approved both by the City of Rockville and WMATA.
2. WMATA wants to maintain the 1100 parking spaces currently available at the Twinbrook Metro station, so before any existing surface lots can be developed, sufficient parking has to be provided elsewhere. The parking structure currently under construction at Halpine and Chapman will allow development of the next phase of Twinbrook Commons.
3. The next phase of Twinbrook Station will occur on the west side of Fishers Lane, across from the Alaire. Called the Toronto, it will consist of a combination of residences, stores, and a parking structure and will be intentionally designed by another architectural firm to avoid a monotonous appearance for the development. Groundbreaking is expected to happen Continue reading →
Today’s Peerless Rockville Brunch at Glenview Mansion was packed with lots of members, friends, residents, and community leaders. Mayor Marcuccio was joined by Rockville City Councilmembers Bridget Newton, Mark Pierzchala, and Tom Moore; Montgomery County Council by Phil Andrews and Hans Riemer; Maryland State Delegate Kumar Barve and Luis Simmons; and Maryland State Senator Jennie Forehand. Everyone was generous with their potluck dish and I regretfully made it to the dessert table long after Brigitta Mullican’s famous Christmas cookies had been devoured. During the presentation, Peerless Rockville noted the important achievement of this last year was the designation of Glenview as an city landmark and that this year they’ll be focusing on simplifying the historic designation process in the city.
I’ll be leading a 1.5-hour walking tour of Rockville’s downtowns for Peerless Rockville on Saturday, May 7 at 10 am. Wear comfortable shoes, be prepared for the weather, and consider enjoying lunch afterwards (unfortunately, some of the tour is not accessible to persons with limited mobility). Space is limited so please register in advance with Peerless Rockville.
|Peerless Rockville Brunch 2010|
The Peerless Rockville New Year’s Day Brunch at Glenview Mansion was the first official event celebrating the 150th anniversary of the City of Rockville and everyone enjoyed a beautiful day, a nice mix of members and friends, and of course, lots of good food. Although it’s a holiday, the event always draws a good crowd of community leaders, including State Senator Forehand; State Delegates Barve, Simmons, and Gilchrist; Rockville Mayor Marcuccio; Rockville Councilmembers Gajewski, Newton, and Pierzchala; and City Clerk Funkhouser. This year’s event invited people to wear something vintage and among the standouts were Bill Forehand (with a Civil War sailor’s uniform) and Cindy Cotte Griffiths (with an amazing vintage dress–satin and velvet?). Peerless also encouraged everyone to submit their nominations for Places That Matter in Rockville (standing or not) and Peerless will be using it as a guide for events and activities for the upcoming year (Phyllis Marcuccio was actively supporting the Pump House). Glenview Mansion is an ideal place to hold the brunch–it’s almost perfectly suited to this type of event–and it was wonderfully decorated for the holidays. Rockville is very fortunate to have such a marvelous historic venue for community events (so much better than a high school gym!). If you want to see a photoalbum from the day, click on the picture or caption.