MPI Invites Nominations for 2016 Montgomery County Historic Preservation Awards

MPI Awards honor individuals and groups who, through personal or community efforts, have made significant contributions to the preservation of Montgomery County’s historic resources and landscapes. These awards present an opportunity for Community and Civic organizations, as well as individuals, to recognize significant preservation activities in all districts, towns, and cities of Montgomery County. Nominations should be submitted as an electronic file via email to Electronic photos (5-10 in number) should be sent in a separate file(s). Please label all photos with the nominee name, date, and any other relevant information. Nominations may be submitted as Word documents or Adobe PDF Files.

Deadline for submitting nominations for 2016 Awards is December 30, 2016. Awards will be presented on Friday, March 24, 2017 at the Silver Spring B&O Railroad Station.

Photographs and descriptions of all 2015 award winners may be seen by clicking here

MPI accepts nominations for 2016 Awards throughout the year. Link to 2016 Nomination form here

MPI open houses: 10 am to 3 pm
At the historic Silver Spring B&O Railroad Station, 8100 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, MD.

December 3 - Kick off our holiday season with “Cho-Choo Boogie” -- a Kiddie Disco! 11 am to 1 pm

This FREE event is recommended for families with children 12 and under
January 7  -  a new year of train-watching, fun, and appreciation

Montgomery Preservation and the Metropolitan Branch Hiker-Biker Trail

MPI has always welcomed the planned Metropolitan Branch Trail as a public amenity near its property, the historic Silver Spring B&O Railroad Station at 8100 Georgia Avenue. For nearly 15 years, MPI has met with County agencies and citizens to accommodate the Hiker-Biker Trail as it passes through Silver Spring, parallel to and across Georgia Avenue and through our property. However, as this plan moved into design stage and Progress Place was introduced into the small space that currently supports neighboring uses, it became apparent that the close-by trail alignment might so negatively impact MPI as to put us out of business. This summary is written to clarify the facts and provide accurate information regarding MPI and the proposed Trail.

MPI is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting Montgomery County’s historic places. In 1997, when a car jumped the curb and smashed in the front door of the Silver Spring Railroad Station, the building’s owner was ready to demolish it. The community rose up in arms, and CSX thereafter offered the Station to Montgomery County. When County government declined to take the Station, MPI stepped up to accept the building with a tiny piece of land and to raise funds to restore it. MPI and the Silver Spring Historical Society successfully nominated it to the National Register of Historic Places and to the Montgomery County Master Plan for Historic Preservation, which gave the Station the historic recognition that it deserved and made it eligible for restoration funding.

MPI independently devised restoration plans and cost estimates, then raised almost $600,000 to bring this beloved landmark back to life. This was accomplished by a creative matching of State and Federal funds, private donations, enthusiastic support from County Executive Doug Duncan, and assistance from County revitalization funds earmarked for Silver Spring. Restoration was complete in November 2002, when the Station returned to its opening day appearance of December 1945.

Since 2002, the Silver Spring B&O Station has been open to the public for tours and open houses, rented for meetings and parties, and available for special community events. Once condemned, it has been meticulously restored, with original waiting room, ticket counter, chrome furniture, terrazzo floor, telephone booth, lockers, and bulletin boards. Exhibits on the history of Silver Spring and the station are maintained by the Silver Spring Historical Society and MPI. A canopy and bench near the tracks offer a safe place for all ages to train watch.

MPI has long cooperated with MCDOT to facilitate a route across the Station property. In 2005, MPI learned that the County’s proposal would take the entire rear platform and most of the parking. The effect of this alignment was to separate the Station from the railroad tracks, add more safety and coordination issues, and severely limit MPI’s use of its property. As would any property owner fearful of losing its business, MPI stood up for its right to continue its stewardship in Silver Spring and to welcome the public to this historic site. Some in the private and public sector have criticized MPI for protecting its interests, casting us as obstructionists. It has never been MPI’s goal to prevent the Trail, only to ensure that the Trail would not leave MPI unable to use its property.

After detailed discussions, the County, MPI, and the Maryland Historical Trust jointly agreed upon a conceptual alignment for the MBT around the Station property. There is much design and layout work to be done before construction begins in 2018. And with the Trail will come a need to identify new parking options, to attract additional volunteers at the station, and to carry the burden of increased maintenance costs.

Eileen McGuckian, president, Montgomery Preservation Inc.
June 2016

See brochure here

Recent Events

Saturday, August 6, at the Silver Spring B&O Railroad Station
Public Open House 10 am to 3 pm

Exhibit, Talk, & Tour:
“Early Women of Architecture in Maryland”

Moorenko's Ice Cream
Talk at Noon, followed by short walk to Ficken's American Instrument Co. building, with stop for Moorenko's Ice Cream (3-Story Building at Left of Photo!)

Women have been practicing architecture professionally in Maryland for over 80 years, yet little is known about their lives or their contributions to the profession. The Women in Architecture Committee (WIA)­­­ of AIABaltimore, in collaboration with the Baltimore Architecture Foundation and Morgan State University, has embarked on a project to assemble the stories of these early women who contributed to architecture in Maryland.

Katherine Cutler Ficken
Katherine Cutler Ficken, circa 1950 (Sidney Bayne Photography)

Featured in this exhibit are 12 female architects, including Katherine Cutler Ficken (Silver Spring resident and first female architect registered in Maryland, 1936), Rose Isabel Greely (first licensed female architect in Washington, DC, 1926), Chloethiel Woodard Smith (well-known 1950s-1990s with buildings in Rockville and Bethesda), and Shirley Kerr Kennard (Chevy Chase resident, designed projects in Bethesda and Chevy Chase).

Exhibit Curator Jillian Storms, AIA, presented an exhibit talk at the B&O Station at Noon, then led a tour of nearby Ficken-designed buildings.

Historic rails removed to make way for Progress Place

MPI's tracks on County property just north of the Silver Spring Railroad Station were carefully pulled up June 28-30 by construction crews. The rails, laid by the B&O c.1910s for a freight spur line to run across Georgia Avenue ending at Griffith & Perry grain storage facility, were discovered in 2006 during construction of the new Fire Station and saved for interpretation. They will be relocated closer to the Station as melding of old and new Silver Spring continues.

Heritage Days 2016

Bikers followed SSHS president Jerry McCoy to some of Silver Spring's most historic places.... Acorn Park, 1945 Canada Dry bottling plant, 1945 B&O Station & underpass, and the1927 National Institute of Cleaning and Dyeing, and ended at the 1850 Moorings mansion in Jesup Blair Park for a picnic under ancient oak trees. In the afternoon, lots of kids brought their parents to enjoy working train displays by Riverdale & Rockville Model Railroaders Clubs.

Notice to MPI members, supporters, and interested parties:

You are invited to join MPI, renew your membership, and/or to make a donation to support preservation in Montgomery County. Click here for details:

Watch this space for MPI's sensational new website, coming soon!!


News and Events around Montgomery County this fall

Petition to save 1957 Silver Spring Library:
SOECA, Seven Oaks Evanswood CA, Woodside Park CA, and SS Historical Society teamed up to convince Montgomery County to preserve and reuse the former Silver Spring Library on this site. They want the property conveyed to Montgomery Parks, with adaptive reuse of the library to continue to serve the public. You can sign the petition at

Our 1957 Silver Spring Public Library, designed by leading DC area architect, Silver Spring resident, and civic leader Rhees Evans Burket, is endangered by a County Government push to build a large high-rise senior housing development on the site. Currently in the RFP process, with final County Stakeholders’ Committee meeting in October. Time is of the essence.

Inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright's "organic modernism," the library is unique among Silver Spring's public buildings. Integrating naturally into the hilly landscape, it's a perfect fit to continue to serve the community. This "Parkitecture" light-filled building, with its open floor plan, natural materials of brick and native quarried stone, and park setting are Burket's legacy to Silver Spring and Montgomery County.

Rhees Burket, who served two terms as president of Montgomery County Civic Federation, described the library as one of his principal works along with many local public schools. You can visit the library today, as it currently houses Friends of the Wheaton Library's Used Book Store.

Peerless Rockville 37th annual awards: 
 November 18  at Glenview Mansion.  Celebrate 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act, silent auction, music, hors d’oeuvres, and beverages while honoring projects of excellence in Rockville.  

Carroll Avenue BridgeCarroll Avenue Bridge, 1932

Report from Historic Takoma:
 In July the State Highway Administration began rehabilitation of Takoma Park's 84-year-old Carroll Avenue Bridge over Sligo Creek. What makes this $12 million project a victory for historic preservation was the State's agreement to replace only the roadbed while restoring the sweeping concrete arches upper railings. Beyond saving this local landmark, it avoids the road closures that would have come with full demolition.

Preservation Maryland "Six to Fix" Reveal:
At its "Six to Fix" program and annual meeting in Baltimore on October 13, Preservation Maryland revealed its 2016-17 preservation concerns. One selected issue is the plight of historic cemeteries throughout Maryland. Preservation Maryland will work closely with the Coalition to Protect Maryland Burial Sites to bring much needed attention to the thousands of cemeteries that are in disrepair, while also providing the general public with information on how to care for neglected and abandoned cemeteries. Volunteer cleanup days will be organized at cemeteries around the state. In addition, Preservation Maryland will again lead advocacy for full funding of the preservation incentives, grants, and programs that benefit us all. For further information: 

Montgomery County Historical Society exhibit:
 "Cocktails, Lipstick & Jazz: Life in the Age of Fitzgerald" --  October 15-January 15, Thursdays through Sundays, noon to 4 pm

Germantown Historical Society is waging a capital campaign to fund repairs to its 1926 Germantown Bank building.  Funding is ongoing:  Attend the wine and cheese fund-raiser at Redwall mansion on October 14, or contribute on line or by check.  Repairs will be done in two stages with the outside work, creating a barrier and re-landscaping to divert parking lot water run-off away from the building, to be accomplished first.  GHS is currently acting to protect the Zachariah Waters burial ground, as new construction is planned nearby.  

Donations are still needed to help Ellicott City recover.  Preservation Maryland stepped up to collect funds and to establish a resource center for property owners.  Attendees of MPI's August 6 open house added almost $500 to PM's Emergency Flood Recovery Fund.  See

When visiting the new National Museum of African American History and Culture, be sure to see the Jones-Hall-Sims house.  Built by freed slaves about 1875 in Jonesville (near Poolesville), this home was moved in pieces and reassembled for the museum through the actions of Scott Whipple, head of Montgomery Planning's Historic Preservation section, and George McDaniel, who studied upper western Montgomery County black communities in the 1970s for Sugarloaf Regional Trails.

11th annual Montgomery County History Conference:   
Saturday, January 28, 2017, at the Bioscience Education Center on the Germantown campus of Montgomery College

Early Registration begins in December

The opening session will be delivered by Ed and Nancy Bodmer to commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War I. Ed’s grandfather was a hero and the family has his uniform, personal letters, and other items from that era. The closing general session will be a panel discussion of the legendary radio station WHFS-FM, which will include a journalist (Mark Seagraves of WRC-TV), a former DJ (Weasel), and a current County councilmember (Marc Elrich). Other topics of conference sessions: Jewish land developers, Latin Americans in the county, Oakley Cabin archeology, the 1962 County Council election, and "History Tools: How to Protect Your Local Historic Burial Ground."

For conference details, see:

Support MPI

There are many ways you can support MPI's preservation efforts. Become a member of MPI or donate to the Wayne Goldstein Memorial Fund or the Robert P. Davis Memorial Fund.