Sometime over the past week four whimsical foam core and cardboard figures were placed in the empty lot on the south side of the 900 block of Thayer Avenue. Considering that there is a chain link fence around most of the property, someone scaled the 6 ft. cinderblock wall at the rear of the lot (as I did to take these photos) to install figures of three Dick and Jane era figures as well as one Man in the Gray Flannel Suit businessman.
What does this art installation mean? Perhaps pending loss of green space represented by the children running through grass (well, actually weeds) while being observed by the businessman in the distance who personifies continued redevelopment of downtown Silver Spring.
A year ago this same field really represented its natural potential. Two Mallards appeared to have set up home in a pond that formed in a depression in the lot after heavy rains. The "pond" was where two wonderfully maintained early 1920s bungalows (razed in 2007) used to be located. This free duck lodging was short lived when debris from brick and cinderblock garages, that were located around the corner on Mayor Lane, was used to fill in the low spots.
The rest of this lot was occupied by an important piece of Silver Spring's history. Located at 958 Thayer Avenue was a rare example of an intact 1946 pre-fabricated facade designed by the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co. The Silver Spring Historical endeavored to have the facade preserved and installed, complete with Roadhouse Oldies sign and 45 rpm records displayed in the windows, in the new Silver Spring Library. This effort was greeted with disinterest by library officials. SSHS disassembled all of the aluminum trim and still has it in storage for recreation of the facade elsewhere.
I'd like the thank the artist who brought a smile to my face with their figures and for a moment made me forget about all of the lost Silver Spring history that this empty lot represents.