Monday, October 5, 2009

Figuring that I needed to take a more aggressive approach to getting the public interested in preserving Silver Spring's history before the developers knock it all down, I enlisted the help of the below "volunteer" to work at the Silver Spring Historical Society's booth, set up last Saturday at the Fenton Street Market.

Actually, he (she?) belonged to the folks next door who were selling dog treats. While looking a bit intimidating, the dog was actually quite friendly and never once barked during the entire five hour time that the market was opened (as opposed to my back, which was barking from sitting and standing that long)!

A group of high school students, whom market manager Hannah McCann had enlisted to help vendors set-up, stopped by and started thumbing through a copy of Historic Silver Spring. They became very enthusiastic as they recognized photos of various places in Silver Spring and couldn't believe how it used to look.

They even proclaimed that I had the 'coolest" booth at the market. I felt heartenend that perhaps there is a chance that the current generation might take an interest in preserving our community's history.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Picturing Old (and Not So Old) Silver Spring

Appearing next year at a bookstore near you...if there are still any in business by then...will be Then & Now: Silver Spring, to be released by Arcadia Publishing. This will be a follow-up to my 2005 book, Historic Silver Spring, published in 2005.

While my first book was released as part of Arcadia's "Images of America" series, this one will be part of its "Then & Now" line (even though I would love to have it titled Then & Again in acknowledgement of my column, which has appeared in the Silver Spring Voice since February 2003). The "Then & Now" series consists of about eighty paired photographs arranged in thematic chapters that illustrate how a community has changed over the course of half century or so...for better or for worse.

My hope is to have very little repetition of images in the two books and to do this I need your help. It took me almost a decade to assemble the 200 images that appeared in the first book and then many of the photos were contemporary views that I took. When the book came out, several folks complained about such and such a place not being featured. When I asked them if they had an old photo of said place (for I didn't), they replied that they also didn't...except the one person who said that he did!

A huge gap in the visual documentation of downtown Silver Spring as it appeared in the 1950s, '60s, '70s, and '80s still exists. I know these photos are out there, probably still in scrap books, photo albums, and shoe boxes and being stored in basements or attics (never good places for materials like this) or under beds or in closets (better). If you have any photographs of downtown Silver Spring taken during this period (or even earlier) that you would like to be considered for use in the new book, please contact me.

One of the chapters in the book will be devoted to Silver Spring Park, better known today by its generic moniker East Silver Spring. Surveyed in 1905, the borders of this now over 100-year old neighborhood were originally Bonifant Street on the north, Cedar Street and Carroll Lane on the east, Sligo Avenue on the south, and Georgia Avenue on the west.

I hope to feature many pairings of "Then & Now" photos of houses located in this historic neighborhood, both extant and lost. Two of the houses for which I have located vintage images are reproduced here.

Situated at 732 Thayer Avenue is a unique residence whose simple lines belie its age. Constructed around 1905 by James Edward Faulconer with help from his father John Benjamin Faulconer, the house was originally to have been one story. Father convinced son that he needed more room and should add another level. Together they framed the second level which afforded much needed space for the five children that would eventually be raised there.

732 Thayer Avenue, constructed ca. 1905 by James E. Faulconer
and his father John. Photo by Jerry A. McCoy.

The same house as it appeared in the 1940s. Photo courtesy
Deborah McGreevy.

Design and construction ran in the Faulconer family for John's other son, also named John, became a professional architect. Standing at 805 Silver Spring Avenue is a wonderful circa 1918 bungalow that he designed for John and Estelle Crawford. Mr. Crawford was a signal man for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and later an electrician. The house has been beautifully restored and appears nearly identical to the way it did nine decades ago

805 Silver Spring Avenue, constructed ca. 1918 from a design by
John M. Faulconer. Photo by Jerry A. McCoy.

The same house as it appeared in the 1920s. Photo SSHS Archives.
There are probably more vintage photographs yet to be found of the many historic homes constructed in the early 20th century in Silver Spring Park. If you have an early image of one of these houses, please contact me at (301) 537-1253, email, or write Silver Spring Historical Society, PO Box 1160, Silver Spring, MD, 20910. Our web site is