Monday, August 30, 2010

Maryland News 83rd Anniversary

Front page of the June 22, 1934 Maryland News.
The public was invited “…to read it, criticize it, make
suggestions and send in news.” The subscription was
$2.00 per year. Collection of Silver Spring
Historical Society.

Last week was the 83rd anniversary of publication of the first issue of The Maryland News, Silver Spring's first newspaper, on August 27, 1927.  Silver Spring businessman E. Brooke Lee and Bethesda Chevy Chase Gazette editor and publisher Robert I. Black established the publication as a bi-weekly, countywide newspaper whose mission was to report “All the News of Montgomery County."

Initially printed on presses located in the District of Columbia, by May of 1928 the publishers had opened the Maryland News building, located at 8081 Georgia Avenue.  This two-story brick structure still stands prominently on the corner of Georgia and Sligo avenues and is today part of Jackie's Restaurant.

The newspaper was composed and printed here until 1953.  In 1956 the newspaper moved into the newly constructed Gist Building at 933-A Gist Avenue. Designed by Ted Englehardt (architect of the wonderful Weller's Dry Cleaners at 8237 Fenton Street), The Maryland News shared the Gist Building with the Silver Spring Shopper newspaper.  Publication of the News ceased June 15, 1975.

Local newspapers have long been recognized as important sources for documentation of a community's history, for found within their pages is information available no where else.  That is why their preservation through the the long-established process of microfilming and the increasingly popular digitization is critical to undertake.  In my job as special collections librarian at the District of Columbia Public Library's Washingtoniana Division and Peabody Room, I am in charge of having microfilmed both past and current newspaper titles in our collections.

The Silver Spring Historical Society is fortunate to have The Maryland News preserved on microfilm covering the years 1934 to 1967. Here are found fascinating news events and human interest stories...along with occasional photographs...recording what life was like for Silver Spring's residents several generations ago.  Access to the microfilm is available to researchers by appointment. 

Several years ago SSHS located a private repository of original bound volumes of The Maryland News that include the years 1927 to 1932 and 1968 to 1973.  Multiple requests to the owners to microfilm the materials have unfortunately been refused.  The early material is especially fragile and unless preservation is undertaken soon, all of this important history will be forever lost.

If readers have knowledge of a repository of the final two years of The Maryland News from 1974 to 1975, please contact me at or 301.537.1253.  Thank you.

Metal and plywood Maryland News sign.  Measuring 9 ft. wide x 2 ft. high, the sign (along with other
Silver Spring architectural artifacts) was offered to the Montgomery County Public Libraries system
 ("Where the County READS...MEETS...LEARNS") on long-term loan for display in the planned 
Silver Spring Library.  The offer was denied.  Collection of the Silver Spring Historical Society.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Farewell Chevy Chase Bank

I have had an account at Chevy Chase Bank since my wife and I moved to downtown Silver Spring in 1992.  Chevy Chase is only the third bank that I have had since moving to the area in 1978.

My first bank as a sophomore at American University was Madison National Bank.  I opened an account with them because they had a branch bank within walking distance in Spring Valley.  During my senior year in 1980, Madison opened its first  automatic teller machine on campus called "Dolley."  I covered the dedication ceremony for the school's Eagle newspaper. 

This ATM (which wasn't even known then by that moniker) was conveniently located in Clark Hall a few steps from my dorm, Letts Hall.  With 24-hour access, I thought "Dolley" was amazing as I would be able to withdraw what little money I had. 

This was the first ATM I had ever seen. My hometown bank in Lorain, Ohio...Lorain National Bank...where I had had a savings account since I was a kid, only had human beings that sat behind an open counter.

(Does anyone know what was the first bank in metropolitan Washington, DC that offered ATMs?)

I stayed with Madison until around 1984 when I got married and moved to Adams-Morgan.  Madison had been experiencing irregularities in its operations and I didn't feel confident in them so I switched to Riggs National Bank, who had a branch at 1779 Columbia Road, NW that was within walking distance of our apartment.  Good thing.  Two years later Madison was shuttered after being in operation for only 23 years.

I really liked Riggs.  This was a bank that had history and even looked like a bank!  Established in 1896 Riggs'a Admas-Morgan branch was designed by George N. Day and constructed in 1928.  With its two-story limestone facade designed in restrained Neoclassical style, this structure certainly symbolized what I had always thought a bank should look like.  That and the fact that 22 U.S. Presidents had banked at Riggs gave me confidence that it would outlive me.

When my wife and I bought our bungalow in pre "revitalized" downtown Silver Spring in 1992, Riggs was unfortunately not located anywhere in the Central Business District.  If they had been present I would still be a customer today...well, with its successor, PNC Financial Services, who took over in 2005.  So instead, we opened accounts at Chevy Chase Bank, then located where Bombay Gaylord is at 8401 Georgia Avenue.

I never liked their name due to the obvious connection with the Saturday Night Live comedian.  But it certainly was convenient to home, especially since they also had ATMs located in Safeway, a mere one block from our house.

I knew that change was coming to Chevy Chase be re-named Capital One Bank...but I was still caught off guard when I came across this scene at the corner of  Georgia Avenue and Bonifant Street yesterday on my way home from work.  A worker was getting ready to install new signage over the corner entrance.

I just hope they ditch the "What's in your wallet?" Vikings commercial, but something tells me they will not.  If so, the image of Chevy Chase the comedian wasn't all that bad.


What's in your wallet?

Uh, stolen money.

Little did I know when I took these photos of the bank that it had been robbed earlier that day!






Media Services Division, 240-773-5030

Bank Robber Arrested

Detectives from the Montgomery County Police Major Crimes Division - Robbery Section announce the arrest of a man who robbed a Chevy Chase Bank in Silver Spring this afternoon.

Today at approximately 2:15 p.m., 3rd District officers responded to the Chevy Chase Bank located at 8315 Georgia Avenue for the report of a bank robbery that had just occurred.

The male suspect entered the bank and presented a note to the teller demanding cash and implying that he had a weapon. He left with an undisclosed amount of cash. A weapon was not seen and no one was injured. A look-out description of the suspect: black male, 5’10” tall, heavyset, hair in dredlocks, and wearing a red and blue plaid shirt was broadcast.

Responding patrol units located a suspect matching that description walking casually southbound on Georgia Avenue toward East West Highway. He was taken into custody without incident. The cash stolen from the bank was recovered.

Carl Coleman Purvis, Jr., age 42, of the 500 block of Peabody Street, NW Washington D.C., was charged with armed robbery and theft. He is currently being held at the Montgomery County Detention Center. Bond information is not yet available.

To see a photo of the bank robber, go to

Friday, August 20, 2010

"Happy" Birthday Silver Spring Armory

On this date 83 years ago, Silver Spring's Maryland National Guard Armory opened. Despite being a designated Montgomery County Master Plan for Historic Preservation structure, this community landmark was demolished in 1998 by vote of the Montgomery County Historic Preservation Commission.

Bordered by Wayne Avenue, Fenton Street, and the no longer extant Pershing Drive*, this monumental structure was eventually replaced five years later by the Wayne Avenue parking garage.  The Armory is "commemorated" by architectural fragments scattered along the sidewalk in front of the garage.

*So much for Silver Spring's honoring of General John Joseph "Black Jack" Pershing.  The only segment of the drive that remains in the Central Business District is the short section that essentially serves as Whole Foods' entrance off of Cedar Street.
Regular U.S. postage stamp issued in 1961.

Summer dance program at the Silver Spring Armory. 
Photo copyright 1998 Jerry A. McCoy.
Silver Spring Armory front (west) elevation.
Photo copyright 1998 Jerry A. McCoy.

Silver Spring Armory architectural fragments placed alongside
Wayne Avenue parking garage.  Photo copyright 2005 Jerry A. McCoy.

The ultimate sacrilege committed against the Silver Spring Armory was the severing of the concrete bas-relief Maryland State flag into four quadrants. Two of the quarter sections were placed back to back, on this pylon, and erected at one of the parking garage's entrances. The other two quarter sections were similarly placed at the opposite end of the garage. This disrespect would have never been shown if this had been the United States flag. The same etiquette applies to state flags but our Montgomery County Government was/is ignorant of this fact. Photo copyright 2005 Jerry A. McCoy.