Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Peeling Back the Layers of Silver Spring's History

Over the next few weeks I will be posting images that superimpose archival views of Silver Spring over the locations where the photographs were originally taken.

In most cases nothing of the earlier image survives, as is the case with this 1940s photograph of Wright's Jeweler-Optician at 8229 Georgia Avenue.  This was watchmaker William M. Wright's second location on the avenue, his first being at 8421 that opened in 1936.

Wright had the one-story brick building, constructed in 1933, refaced with black Vitrolite glass panels that served as background to a prominent neon sign that spelled out his name in cursive letters.  It is not known what color the neon was.

Vitrolite was a popular opaque glass available in various colors that was associated with the Art Deco movement.  It was used in both new construction as well as renovations.  Nothing of this striking facade survives.  Today, passersby are treated to a bland glass and corrugated metal facade.

This never-before-published photo is from the archives of the Silver Spring Historical Society and will appear in the forthcoming book Downtown Silver Spring, authored by myself and featuring a fascinating foreword by George Pelecanos.  A book signing (sorry, George will not be there!) will take place on Saturday, November 6th, from 10-3 at the historic Baltimore & Ohio Railroad station, 8100 Georgia Avenue. Cost of the book is $21.99.

Copies of the 2005 book, Historic Silver Spring ($19.99) will also be available.  Only cash or check will be accepted.