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Designation of Washington Grove as a Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places


For generations, Washington Grove residents have acted as faithful stewards of the Town’s historic architecture and landscape. Significantly, they have ensured the Town’s inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) as a Historic District. The NHRP is administered by the National Park Service and is the official federal list of districts, sites, or buildings considered to be significant in American/Native American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering or culture.

The process of achieving a listing on the NRHP begins with the preparation and submittal of a nomination document containing a wide range of materials. Examples include narrative accounts of a potential Historic District’s history, narrative descriptions of the historic resources along with maps, photographs and graphics. Eligibility for the NRHP is determined at the state level by Historic Preservation Offices and Professional Review Boards. Once accepted by the National Park Service and formally listed on the NRHP, Historic Districts receive legal protection from inappropriate state or federal development. In addition, residents often find that NRHP-listing helps guide local planning efforts and serves as a basis for local preservation ordinances.

History of the Designation

The first designation of the Washington Grove Historic District occurred in 1980, an effort undertaken by a group of Town volunteers.

In 2017, the Historic Preservation Commission decided that the original Historic District listing, now nearly 40 years old, needed to be updated and its boundaries expanded. A consulting firm hired by the Town, Robinson and Associates, worked closely with the HPC to prepare a new nomination document. By the fall of 2020, the nomination had been enthusiastically approved and endorsed by the staff of the Maryland Historical Trust and by the National Park Service. The Maryland Historical Trust noted that Washington Grove’s updating of its Historic District was “outstanding” and would become “a model for other Districts to follow.” The official NRHP listing of the Washington Grove Historic District’s updating was announced by the National Park Service on October 2, 2020.

Washington Grove’s new 241-acre Historic District exceeds the original 1980 Historic District to encompass nearly everything lying within the Town’s municipal limits along with some resources adjoining the edges of the Town’s boundaries. The Historic District’s period of significance also has been expanded. The original nomination focused upon what most of us think of as “The Camp Meeting Era,” i.e. dating from Washington Grove’s founding in 1873 to the Town’s incorporation as an independent municipality in 1937. Because the threshold for listing on the NRHP is fifty years, the Historic District’s period of significance has now been redefined to be from 1873 to 1969.

Where resources seen as contributing to the District’s historic significance were originally confined to the Town’s distinctive architecture, additional contributing resources now include many elements of our historic landscape, including parks, woods, the Conservation Meadow and views and view sheds. Another important addition is the Town’s unique streetscape. This includes not only its alternating streets (roads) and walkways (avenues) but also the entire radial layout of the Circle and its immediate environs. Three water features are also included—Maple Lake, Maple Spring and Whetstone Spring—along with “small-scale features,” defined as historic components of the Town’s infrastructure.

If you’d like to learn more about the updated and expanded 2020 Washington Grove Historic District, we encourage you to click on the bulleted link below to consult the complete nomination document  — we hope you’ll enjoy the many photographs and historic maps, as well as the comprehensive and thoroughly researched history of the Town from its founding to the present. A Table of Contents has been provided to help guide you through this very detailed document.


Table of Contents

Introductory Pages

View the PDF of the introduction

Section 1: Name of Property
Section 2: Location
Section 3: State/Federal Agency Certification
Section 4: National Park Service Certification
Section 5: Classification (ownership and category of property, number of resources that are contributing or non-contributing)
Section 6: Function or Use (Historic and Current)



Description and Significance of the Historic District — Section 7

View the PDF of Section 7

Pg. 1.  Description Summary

Pg. 2.  General Description

Pg. 3.  Setting: Tent Department

Pg. 4.  The Circle, its radiating avenues, alleys, path and associated views: including First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth Avenues; Johnson Alley; Acorn Lane and Miller Drive
Pg. 6.  Parks: including Jackson Park; Knott Park; Wade Hill (location of Political Hill)

Pg. 8. Setting: B&O RR Corridor and associated features, including Washington Grove Station, Humpback Bridge and associated views, Bridge, Railroad Park

Pg. 9.  Setting: Cottage Department

Pg. 10.  Setting: Cottage Department Circulation System
Avenues, including Chestnut Ave. and associated views; Cherry Ave. and associated Views; Grove Ave. and associated views; Maple Ave. and associated views; Pine Ave. and associated views

Pg. 13.  Roads: including Chestnut Road: Grove Road; Hickory Road; Maple Road; Pine Road
Pg. 14.  Streets and Lanes: including Brown Street and associated views (stone perimeter wall); Center Street and associated views; Dorsey Street and associated views; McCauley Street and associated views; Oak Street and associated views
Pg. 17.  Boundary Roads: including Boundary Street; Railroad Street and associated views; Ridge Road and associated views; Washington Grove Lane and associated views

Pg. 18.  Setting: Cottage Department Parks

Pg. 18.  Chapel Park and associated views
Pg. 19. Howard Park and associated views
Pg. 20.  McCauley Park and Morgan Park and associated views
Pg. 21.  Washington Grove Meadow Conservation Park and associated views (also Maryland archaeological site # 18M06221)
Pg. 22.  Woodward Park and associated views (also stone fireplace, maintenance building)

Pg. 23.  Setting: Forest Preserves

Pg. 23.  East Woods and associated views
Pg. 24.  West Woods and their associated views

Pg. 25.  Setting: Water Features

Pg. 25.  Maple Spring
Pg. 25.  Whetstone Spring
Pg. 26.  Maple Lake and associated views

Pg. 26.  Systems of Small-Scale Features

Pg. 26.  Remaining elements of the well water system; Remaining elements of the camp meeting-era stormwater and drainage system
Pg. 27.  Wood street signs; Spherical streetlights; historic fire hydrants

Pg. 28.  Architecture: Founding and Early Development (1873-1901)

Pg. 28.  (Representative examples): 315 Grove Avenue; 127 Grove Avenue
Pg. 29.  (Representative examples): 301 First Avenue; 206 Grove Avenue; 15 the Circle
Pg. 30.  (Representative example): 1 the Circle
Pg. 31.  (Representative examples): 313 Grove Avenue; 416 Fifth Avenue
Pg. 32.  (Representative examples): 112 Grove Avenue; 119 Maple Avenue
Pg. 32.  (Discussion) Hershey’s Restaurant
Pg. 33.  (Representative example): McCathran Hall

Pg. 34.  Architecture: Early Twentieth Century (1902-1936)

Pg. 34.  (Representative example): 409 Fifth Avenue
Pg. 35.  (Representative example): 109 Maple Avenue
Pg. 36.  (Representative examples): 108 Grove Avenue; 103 Brown Street
Pg. 37.  (Representative examples): 126 Washington Grove Lane; Odd Fellows Hall
Pg. 37.  (Discussion): Commercial Corner
Pg. 38.  (Discussion): Feed Mill and Concrete Silo Complex at 671-681 East Diamond Street
Pg. 38.  (Representative examples): 200 Washington Grove Lane; 128 Washington Grove Lane

Pg. 39.  Architecture: Early Municipal Period (1937-1945)

Pg. 39.  (Representative examples): 410 Oak Street; 201 Washington Grove Lane; 402 Fourth Avenue
Pg. 40.  (Representative example): Woman’s Clubhouse

Pg. 40.  Architecture: Post-World War II Period (1946-1969)

Pg. 41.  (Representative examples): 106 Pine Avenue; 13 Center Street; 205 Grove Avenue
Pg. 42.  (Representative examples): 415 Chestnut Avenue; Washington Grove United Methodist Church

Pg. 43.  Architecture: Current Period (1970-present), contributing and non-contributing resources

Pg. 44.  Tables: Contributing and Non-Contributing Resources

Pg. 44.  Buildings
Pg. 49.  Sites, Structures

Pg. 50.  Historic Associated Features

Pg. 50.  Circulation
Pg. 51.  Small-Scale Features
Pg. 51.  Topographic Features
Pg. 51.  Views and Viewsheds


Description and Significance of the Historic District, cont’d — Section 8: Significance

View the PDF of the Significance section (Section 8)

Statement of Significance (Applicable National Register Criteria; Area of Significance; Period of Significance; Significant Dates; Architects and Builders; Major Bibliographical References)

Summary Statement of Significance

View the full Summary Statement in HTML and in PDF

Pg. 2.  National Register Criterion A (Social History, Community Planning and Development)

Pg. 2.  National Register Criterion C (Architecture)

Pg. 3.  National Register Criterion C (Community Planning and Development, Landscape Architecture)

Pg. 4.  Period of Significance (1873-1969)



Resource History and Historic Context

Pg. 4.  The Founding and Early Development of Washington Grove (1873 -1901)

Pg. 4.   Origins and Early Development of Camp Meetings in the United States
Pg. 8.   19th-Century Suburbanization and the Emergence of Summer Resorts in the Washington Region
Pg. 10.   The Religious Resort Period of Camp Meeting Development
Pg. 13.  Carpenter Gothic
Pg. 15.  The Washington Grove Camp Meeting Association

Pg. 23.  Washington Grove in the Early Twentieth Century (1902-1937)

Pg. 23.  Suburbanization in the Progressive Era
Pg. 24.  The Impact of Infrastructure Improvements at Washington Grove
Pg. 27.  Park Beautification and Recreational Amenities
Pg. 28.  Development of the Commercial Corner
Pg. 29.  Decentralization and Residential Development
Pg. 31.  Chautauqua Comes to Washington Grove
Pg. 37.  The Conservation Movement Comes to Washington Grove
Pg. 40.  Early Steps Towards Incorporation

Pg. 41.  The Early Municipal Period (1937-1945)

Pg. 41.  New Government and New Initiatives
Pg. 42.  Commercial Corner
Pg. 43.  Residential Development

Pg. 45. Post-World War II Period (1946-1969)

Pg. 45.  Post World War II Suburbanization
Pg. 48.  Regional Trends in Postwar Residential Architecture
Pg. 50.  Postwar Growth in Washington Grove and Home Rule
Pg. 52.  The Auditorium Controversy
Pg. 53.  Community Activism

Pg. 54.  Current Period (1970-present)

Pg. 55.  Preservation Efforts
Pg. 56.  Conflict over the Commercial Corner
Pg. 58.  Town Growth
Pg. 59.  Cultural Traditions


Section 9: Bibliographical References

View the PDF of the Bibliographical References section




Sections 10-11: Geographical Data (including acreage), and Citation and Date for Robinson and Associates as Form Preparers

View the PDF of the Sections 10 and 11

Verbal Boundary Description, Boundary Justification



Maps Section (including Delineation of Historic District on USGS Gaithersburg 7.5)

View the PDF of the Maps section

View a large version of the boundary map (PDF)

Minute Series and Detailed Map of Washington Grove Historic District, showing all boundaries and indicating non-contributing properties)



Contemporary Photos

View the PDF of the Photos section

Pg. 1.  Index to Photographs

Pgs. 2 – 13.  Representative contributing views

Pgs. 14 – 23.  Representative historic associated features such as parks, forest preserves, and street signs

Pgs. 24 – 46.  Representative contributing buildings and streetscapes



Historic Maps and Images Section

View the PDF of the Historic Maps and Images Section

Pgs. 1 – 3.  Maps

Pgs. 4 – 10.  Images



1980 Nomination Form Designating the Washington Grove Historic District

View the PDF of the 1980 Nomination Form


Pg. 1.  Name, Location, Classification, Owners of Property, Location of Legal Description.

Pgs. 2 – 4.  Description

Pgs. 4 – 7.  Architectural description.

Pgs. 7 – 10.  Description of Individual Structures.

Pgs. 11 – 13.  Statement of Significance.

Pg. 14.  Bibliographical References and Geographical Data.

Pgs. 15 – 18.  Maryland Historical Trust Worksheet.

Pg. 19.  Map.


Patricia Patula
Town Archivist


Background Research by Robinson & Associates, Inc., for the Nomination

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