Montgomery History New Online Exhibit: Montgomery County 1900-1930: Through the Lens of Lewis Reed

Montgomery County, 1900-1930: Through the Lens of Lewis Reed

Montgomery History has launched a new online exhibit co-developed by Blog Author, Jeanne Gartner and Montgomery History Librarian & Archivist, Sarah Hedlund: “Montgomery County, 1900-1930: Through the Lens of Lewis Reed”. Explore Montgomery County and its environs in the early 20th century through the lens of Lewis Reed, founder of Reed Brothers Dodge. A pioneering automobile dealer and one of the most prolific photographers in Montgomery County at the turn of the 20th century, Reed took motorcycle excursions all over the state of Maryland with his camera, capturing landscapes, monuments, historical places, people, and anything else that caught his attention.

The presentation of the Lewis Reed collection features his photography in several themed exhibitions (Transportation, Photo-magic, Recreation, Daily Life and Community) which will be released separately over time. The first exhibition, “Transportation in Montgomery County”, features some of the earliest known photographs of various modes of transportation, from horses and canal boats to motorcycles and automobiles. It is an absolutely unique window into how Montgomery Countians lived over a century ago.

Click on the category you are interested in below to visit the various presentations and their photographic content. Through the lens of Lewis Reed, we see that Montgomery County’s history is America’s history.

  • Transportation: Lewis Reed loved moving vehicles and photographed the evolution of transportation happening around him at the turn of the century. Explore the pages on modes of transportation in Montgomery County from horse power to automobiles.
  • Photo-magic: Details how self-taught photographer and county native Lewis Reed edited photos before computers existed, using techniques like hand-tinting and double exposure.
  • Recreation: Enjoy a vicarious getaway by exploring the newest section of the Lewis Reed Photography online exhibit, “Recreation”. View these amazing photos to see how Montgomery Countians in the first half of the 20th century enjoyed fun in the sun — beach trips, camping, fishing, vacationing, attending fairs, and more. You’ll find many summer activities have stood the test of time!
  • Daily Life: What was domestic and social life like in Montgomery County at the turn of the century? Explore glimpses of early 19th century housing, education, social activities, entertainment, pets, and more in the  “Daily Life” section.
  • Community [coming soon!]

New Blog Feature: Then & Now

Then & Now

Looking back at photography from the past is a fascinating experience for me, and with a newfound interest in history, it occurred to me that with the vast number of historical photographs in Lewis Reed’s Collection, that this blog would be a great place to feature a series of Then & Now photography. I started doing this about a year ago as a research tool, now I mostly do it because of my passion for history and fascination with the subject. With that in mind, I will occasionally be spotlighting some “Then & Now” images from his collection that will show photographs of buildings, street scenes, and other historical locales alongside photographs of how they appear today.

Some of the historic locations in this series includes the Smithsonian, Capitol, Union Station, Old Post Office, Library of Congress, Raleigh Hotel, Key Bridge and other important sites in and around the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. area. There are also photographs of many non-Maryland locations including the historic landmark “Lucy the Elephant”, Gettysburg Battlefield, Mount Vernon, Pennsylvania Monument and United States Regulars Monuments under construction, and Quebec Bridge (the 8th Wonder of the World).

I have no formal history training, just a general interest in local history where I grew up. I will post one of Lewis Reed’s photographs matched with a corresponding contemporary shot of the same area, and supply a few sentences of context. All of them will in some way will offer a visual history of how things have changed over the years. I look forward to sharing them with you.

Reed Photo Collection (1898-1960)

Lewis Reed Photos

Lewis Reed, founder of Reed Brothers Dodge, was a well-known photographer in Montgomery County. Many of his photographs are now part of the Montgomery County (Maryland) Historical Society photo archives. He even developed his own photographs. He had a darkroom in his house —  in the kitchen, to be exact — and worked at night to develop the negatives.

About This Collection:

Since I started this blog, I have had the opportunity to look through my grandfather’s extensive collection of photographs from historical locations not only in Maryland, Washington, DC and Virginia, but all across the country. The Reed Photo Collection (1898-1960) spotlights the photographs that I have been able to research and identify. There are close to 200 blog posts within this section that gives a snapshot of what life was like more than 100 years ago. Highlights include the Black Rock Grist Mill, Rockville Water Tower, C&O Canal, 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair, Rockville Fair dirt track races, Trolley Cars, Wright Brothers Airplane, and Quebec Bridge (8th Wonder of the World). Especially stunning are images of the aftermath of the 1936 Gainesville Georgia tornado, one of the deadliest tornadoes in American history. Many photographic images in this collection have never before been seen publicly in print.

Lewis Reed’s photography has appeared as a resource in highly regarded local history publications, and in historical television programming, including on the national television show American Pickers, Science Channel Impossible Engineering, Maryland Public Television, and the American Experience History Series on PBS.

If there’s an historical marker on the side of the road in Montgomery County, chances are, one of Lewis Reed’s images is on it. Some of the markers that display his photographs include the Andrew Small Academy Marker in Darnestown, The Origins of Darnestown Marker, Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Station Marker in Gaithersburg, From Trolley to Trail Marker in Bethesda, the African American Heritage Walking Tour Marker in Rockville, and the 19th Century Crossroads Marker in Darnestown. A Lewis Reed photo is also featured on a historical/interpretive sign along a trail in the Watters Smith Memorial State Park in West Virginia.

Of particular interest is Lewis Reed’s collection of manipulated photographs. He was 100 years ahead of his time by creating special effects to images long before the convenience and efficiency of digital photography and Photoshop were ever imaginable. Lewis Reed used a wide variety of effects, including hand-tinting, double exposure, applied handwork, and creating images that made it look as if there were ghosts in the picture. It’s pretty amazing how his early photography shows such versatility and creativity considering the limited tools that were available at the time.

Click here to take a look back in time and explore the lives of those who have gone before us.

Note: All images are scanned from prints made from Lewis Reed’s original glass plate negatives. Glass plate negatives were in common use between the 1880s and the late 1920s. No touch-up or alteration has been done, in order to retain their historical essence.

Then & Now: Historic Mathias Point Lighthouse

“Then and Now” photos are an excellent way to explore the passage of time. In this special post, I have combined one of Lewis Reed’s original photograph’s for “then” and matched it with a corresponding contemporary shot for “now”. Taken approximately 50 years apart, these photos show Mathias Point Lighthouse, then and now.

Mathias Point Lighthouse (THEN): 

Mathias Point Lighthouse was placed at the edge of a shoal jutting out from a major bend in the Potomac River. This point was considered one of the most dangerous navigation problems on the river. In the summer of 1873, the United States naval steamer Frolic went ashore and remained grounded for over two weeks. It was eventually floated out at a cost of nearly $6,000. After much debate in Congress, $40,000 was finally appropriated in 1874. Originally, a day beacon was approved for Mathias Point and light for Port Tobacco Flats. After a delay of almost two years, the two sites were switched.

Plans were drawn up for Mathias Point and the design was like no other screwpile on the Bay. The design included 3 levels, unlike the other 2-level cottages on the Bay. It had a large second floor and smaller third floor which resulted in a “wedding cake” profile. It also had an unusual amount of ornate detailed woodwork. The pilings were angled inward to the base of the lighthouse, which was also different from other screwpile designs. The house was white with a brown roof and green shutters. Construction started in September 1876 and commissioned December 20, 1876.

The light was automated in 1951 and was monitored by the keeper of Maryland Point Light. In 1961 the light was decommissioned the beautiful lighthouse at Mathias Point was dismantled.

Mathias Point Lighthouse 1915

Mathias Point Light, Potomac River, near the Port Tobacco River, Maryland. Photo by Lewis Reed, 1915.

Mathias Point Lighthouse (NOW): The current light is a steel tower on the original screwpile supports and displays a 44-foot high, 6 second flashing green light. The current light can be viewed from the Mt. Bethel Recreation Center at Mathias Point in Virginia. As of 2020, it is still an active aid to navigation.

Mathias Point Lighthouse

Mathias Point Light in the Potomac River in Maryland is no longer standing, now a beacon.

Lewis Reed Glass Plate Negatives Collection

Lewis Reed’s love of photography began at a very young age, at a time when most families did not own a camera. The oldest photo in his collection (Fearon’s Pharmacy, pictured below) is dated 1898, which would have made him around 11-12 years old when he started using a camera.

Fearon's Pharmacy Rockville 1912

Vinson’s Drug Store Fearon’s Pharmacy (as named in the window). (also Owen’s and Vinson’s at other times). L to R Tom Talbott, Wardlow Mason, Otho Talbott, unknown, Dr. Fearon. Photo by Lewis Reed, ca. 1898.

The print below was originally made from Lewis Reed’s glass negatives collection. His full collection dates from about 1898 to 1960, and includes 280 glass negatives and 2500+ photographic prints, the majority of them more than 100 years old. The early 1900s were considered by many to be the golden era of early photography, because of its new availability to the public and somewhat simplified production methods. Many of Lewis Reed’s early photographs are now part of Montgomery History’s photo archives.

The following is an excerpt taken from the Summer 2011 edition of the Montgomery County Historical Society Newsletter.

The Sween Library was recently given a collection of 280 glass plate negatives, showing Montgomery County in the early 20th century. Lewis Reed was a well-known photographer in the county as well as owner (along with his brother Edgar) of Reed Brothers, the Rockville automobile dealership. The collection was donated to the Society by Mr. Reed’s daughter, Mary Jane Reed Gartner.

There are scenes of different areas of the county, buildings, events such as the county fair, and local people. These are a welcomed addition to our growing graphics collection.

1922 print made from glass plate negative

Print made from a Lewis Reed glass negative, showing the Reed Brothers dealership in 1922. On the top left, you can see a crack in the glass.

The photograph below shows Lewis Reed and his family posing in front of a camera set up on a tripod. Lewis Reed is holding a dry glass plate encased inside a holder in his left hand to protect it from the light. Because Lewis used dry plates, he could carry them to locations and expose them, then carry them back to his darkroom to process them. He developed all of his own photographs in a darkroom in his house —  in the kitchen, to be exact — and worked at night to develop the negatives. He likely needed considerable chemical and technical knowledge to develop the plates and print photographs.

On location, once he had identified the subject of the potential photograph, the dry glass plate holder would be inserted into the camera, the cover would be removed from the holder to reveal the negative, the lens cover quickly removed to take the photograph and re-covered, and finally the plate holder cover replaced before it was taken out of the camera. Lewis Reed wrote in pencil on the back of the holder a brief subject description. The image on the negative would then be stored to develop at a later point in a darkroom.

West Virginia Cola Mine, ca. 1926

Nel Thomas Hollis, Ethelene Reed, daughter Mary Jane, and Lewis Reed at West Virginia Coal Mine, ca. 1926.

Photography became a lifelong passion for Lewis Reed that expanded in later years to include movies that he made not only of his family, but on his several trips to various parts of the world. The majority of photo prints from his albums were taken during the early part of the 20th century (ca. 1900-1930). His entire collection spans more than six decades and showcases his love for people, automobiles, events, landmarks, and travel throughout the first half of the 20th century.

He had a great eye for composition and seemed to be drawn to historical events and landmark locations, including the Smithsonian, Capitol, Union Station, Old Post Office, Library of Congress, Raleigh Hotel, grading of Massachusetts Ave in DC, and Key Bridge. There are also photographs of many non-Maryland locations including the historic landmark “Lucy the Elephant”, Gettysburg Battlefield/Monuments, Mount Vernon, Pennsylvania Monument and United States Regulars Monuments while under construction, and Quebec Bridge (the 8th Wonder of the World).

Wright Brothers Military Flyer

Wright Brothers Military Flyer in its hangar at Fort Myer, Virginia. Photo by Lewis Reed, 1908

Other highlights include Montgomery County Grist Mills, Rockville’s first pipe stem water tower, 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair, and rare photos of the Wright Brothers Flyer in a demonstration at Fort Myer, VA. Especially stunning are images of the aftermath of the 1936 Gainesville Georgia tornado, one of the deadliest tornadoes in American history. He also took aftermath photos of the 1929 Montgomery County F3 Tornado that devastated northeastern Montgomery County.

If there’s an historical wayside marker on the side of the road in Montgomery County, chances are, one of Lewis Reed’s images is on it. Some of the markers that display his photographs include the Andrew Small Academy Marker in Darnestown, The Origins of Darnestown Marker, Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Station Marker in Gaithersburg, From Trolley to Trail Marker in Bethesda, Clinton A.M.E. Zion Church Marker in Rockville and the 19th Century Crossroads Marker in Darnestown.

B&O Railroad Station Wayside Marker

B&O Railroad Station Historical Marker located on South Summit Avenue in Gaithersburg, MD.

B&O Railroad Station, Gaithersburg 1911

Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Station in Gaithersburg. Original photograph displayed on the marker taken by Lewis Reed in 1911.

Of particular interest is Lewis Reed’s collection of manipulated photographs. He was 100 years ahead of his time by creating special effects to images long before the convenience and efficiency of digital photography and Photoshop were ever imaginable. Lewis Reed used a wide variety of effects, including hand-tinting, double exposure, applied handwork, and creating images that made it look as if there were ghosts in the picture. It’s pretty amazing how his early photography shows such versatility and creativity considering the limited tools that were available at the time.

early 1900s double exposure image

A double exposure image of Lewis Reed’s brother, Edgar, seated on both sides of a table. Photo by Lewis Reed

In the double exposure photo above, Lewis Reed’s brother, Edgar, is playing cards with himself. The thing to look out for is to see that nothing inanimate in the scene is moved during the time of making the two pictures — in this case, you can tell the angle of the camera changed slightly when Edgar moved to the other side of the table for the second shot.

His photographs comprise a remarkable historic record of Montgomery County life in the early 20th century.

Early Images of Gaithersburg and Surrounding Area

early 1900s Gaithersburg Aerial

Early 1900s aerial view of Braddock Heights. Photo by Lewis Reed.

Old photos have an amazing way of showing us what life was like years ago and depicting how our communities once looked. You might not realize how much things have changed until you look back and see what it looked like in the past. Lewis Reed grew up in Darnestown and later lived in Gaithersburg, so many of his photographs depict that specific region of Montgomery County. Take a journey back in time through the lens of Lewis Reed and see what Gaithersburg and the surrounding area looked like more than one hundred years ago. As always, click the photos to get a better look.

Philip Reed Blacksmith Shop and Farmhouse in Darnestown, early 1900s

Philip Reed Blacksmith Shop

Philip Reed farmhouse and blacksmith shop located on Darnestown Road near the intersection of Seneca Road. Photo by Lewis Reed, early 1900.

Philip Reed (1845-1918), father of Lewis Reed, was an early settler in Darnestown and operated a blacksmith, wheelwright, and cabinet making business next to his home. Darnestown residents of that time included a doctor, a merchant, a blacksmith and a wheelwright. As late as 1910, there were still approximately 60 blacksmith shops in the county.

Hunting Hill, 1903

Hunting Hill 1911

Buggies traversed rutted dirt roads across the Montgomery County countryside — sometimes their occupants needed a rest in the shade from the jolting motion of the carriage and the pounding heat of the sun. The photo above was taken by Lewis Reed on Hunting Hill Road ca. 1903.

The area along Darnestown Road between Travilah and Muddy Branch Roads was once a small rural community known as Hunting Hill. The village included a blacksmith shop, two general stores, and a schoolhouse. This photograph of Darnestown Road looking west shows the Magruder house at the corner of Travilah Road.

General Store at Quince Orchard, 1906

General Store at Quince Orchard 1906

General Store at Quince Orchard. Photo by Lewis Reed, 1906

A small school for white children was established on the northeast corner of Darnestown and Quince Orchard Roads around 1850. It was damaged during the Civil War and eventually burned down in 1873. The school was rebuilt on the same site in 1875 but was moved across the road next to Pleasant View Methodist Church in 1902 after the fire destroyed the school for black children. The General Store at Quince Orchard was built on the same site shortly after the school building was moved.

Barnesville B&O Train Station, 1912

Barnesville B&O Train Station 1912

Barnesville B&O Train Station, 1912. Photo by Lewis Reed.

The Barnesville train station, pictured above in the early 1900s, was also known as Sellman Station. Apparently named after Captain William O. Sellman who owned land there, Sellman was a separate, thriving community located just a mile south of Barnesville. Development in this area began around 1873 when the Metropolitan Branch came through, but the town of Sellman was gradually abandoned with the advent of interstate highways and automobiles.

The original station building was torn down in the late 1950s, and for many years there was no shelter at this popular up-county stop. It was finally decided to move to the site a 16-by-22-foot historic metering station owned by the Washington Gas Light Company, with the gas company, the county, and the city and residents of Barnesville sharing the costs. The squarish little structure had a makeover after the move. It was painted inside and out and a wide overhanging roof was added just below the original roof line, giving the building more an authentic “train station” look, and it was re-dedicated on October 10, 1977. Snuggled up against the woods, surrounded by trees and shrubbery in a rural area just south of Barnesville on Route 109 (Beallsville Road), the station today is a pretty sight.

Martin Thompson House, 1907

Martin Thompson House, 1907

Route 28, Darnestown Road Circa 1907 – Martin Thompson House, owned by Lewis Reed’s maternal grandfather. Photo by Lewis Reed.

The home in the photo was owned by James Martin Thompson (1825–1902), Lewis Reed’s maternal grandfather. It was then called “Pleasant Hills”, which was located just opposite of the Thomas Kelly farm. In the early days, it was common practice for a family to give a name to their property. The house was accessed from Darnestown Road by a long tree-lined drive.

Route 28, in Darnestown is depicted in this photo before paving. What is now Route 28 is one of the earliest roads in the county, and was one of the main ways farmers in Poolesville, Darnestown, Dickerson, and Barnesville reached the courthouse in Rockville. Darnestown Road has existed since before the Civil war, and it remained a mud path for years into the automobile age.

Most houses in the Darnestown “Pleasant Hills” area were not very large and most were made of wood rather than brick. According to the 1860 Federal Census, Martin Thompson’s occupations were listed as Carpenter and Farmer living in Darnestown, Montgomery County, Maryland.

This photograph won an honorable mention in a contest sponsored by Rotary International for Lewis Reed.

Germantown Road at Seneca Creek, 1907

Germantown Road at Seneca Creek 1907

Germantown Road at Seneca Creek looking West. Photo by Lewis Reed, 1907

Germantown Road at Seneca Creek 1907

Germantown Road at Seneca Creek. Photo by Lewis Reed, 1907.

This view of Route 118 looking west shows the old one-lane stone bridge over the creek. In the 1930s, many of these old bridges were replaced with concrete bridges, and concrete roads were installed. Today, the rolling hills are covered with trees, and hikers can enjoy the Seneca Creek Ridge Trails, which runs directly through the land in this photograph.

Diamond Avenue in Gaithersburg, 1911

Diamond Ave Gaithersburg 1911

Left to Right: Belt’s Store, (sign) Charlie Foo’s Laundry, Nicholl’s Harness Shop, Etchison’s Drug Store (now Diamond Drugs), First National Bank of Gaithersburg, Jacob Miller’s Livery Stable. Photo by Lewis Reed, 1911

After the arrival of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in 1873, Gaithersburg’s business district had diversified to include John Belt’s mercantile store, reportedly the largest general store in the county. Many of the business owners probably lived above their shops. When constructed in 1903, the Belt building was the most ornate and substantial commercial structure in Gaithersburg.

Etchison’s Drug Store was one of the two first commercial buildings that sprang up near the business center of Gaithersburg. Earlier, two upstairs rooms of the drug store had been occupied as the dental office of Bates Etchison, DDS. Dr. Etchison would on occasion throw extracted teeth out his window, to the curious amazement of young boys below.

The second of the two nineteenth century commercial buildings was the Nicholl’s Harness shop. Nicholls Harness Shop claimed to have the best selection of harnesses and related merchandise in the state. Charlie Foo, a Chinese immigrant, owned and operated a laundry shop. The First National Bank of Gaithersburg opened on the northeast corner of Diamond and Summit Avenues in 1891.

Gaithersburg B&O Train Station, 1911

B&O Railroad Station, Gaithersburg 1911

Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Station in Gaithersburg. Photo by Lewis Reed, 1911.

The station was originally built as the Gaithersburg B&O Railroad Station and Freight Shed in 1884, for the Metropolitan Branch of te Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O). A freight house, which currently houses the Gaithersburg Community Museum, allowed farmers to easily ship their products. Over the years, the station buildings gradually fell into disrepair and by the 1960’s were slated for demolition. According to the Gaithersburg city website, they were purchased by the city from the Chessie Systems in 1984 and restored. The Station and Freight House have been listed in the National Register of Historical Places since 1978.

Montgomery County Almshouse, 1912

Montgomery County Almshouse

Montgomery County Almshouse. Photo by Lewis Reed, 1912

Before nursing homes, there were almshouses. The Montgomery County Almshouse was built in 1789 to provide for the County’s Indigent. The Almshouse never housed a large number of people. Over the years, the maximum number of residents appeared to range between 20 and 30. Occasionally, the Almshouse sheltered migrants, hitchhikers, or others in need of short-term temporary quarters. The 50-acre tract also included a pauper’s graveyard. As the 19th century began to unwind, women and church groups began founding Homes for the Aged.

Clarksburg Main Street, 1913

Main Street Clarksburg, 1913

Main street (Frederick Road Rt 355) Clarksburg, 1913. Photo by Lewis Reed

By the early 20th Century, Clarksburg was the third largest town in Montgomery County after Rockville and Poolesville. Clarksburg had four general stores, two hotels, and an academy of learning. It also had a blacksmith, a doctor’s office, tanneries, shoemakers, winemakers, tailors, wheelwrights, fertilizer businesses, skilled farmers, master carpenters and two town bands.

Thomas & Company Cannery, 1917

Thomas & Co Cannery 1917

Circa 1917 photo taken behind the Thomas and Company Cannery in Gaithersburg. The Cannery was the first and largest vegetable cannery in Montgomery County. It closed in 1963 after fire damage and lay empty until its recent restoration. Photo by Lewis Reed.

The largest and longest-lived cannery in Montgomery County, the Thomas and Company Cannery operated from 1917 until 1962. While Baltimore had been the center of the canning industry in the 19th century, the outbreak of World War I created a need to rationalize. Frank and Clyde Thomas were leaders in the 20th century canning industry in Maryland. In 1917, the Thomas family opened a cannery in Gaithersburg, the first in Montgomery County. The factory was the focus of local industry and economy, providing an important market for farmers, and employment for local migrant workers.

The factory canned peas, pumpkin and corn, supplied both the local retail market and the war effort during WW I and II. During the war years, the cannery expanded operations and functioned on a three shift schedule to provide vegetables for shipment to troops. After the war, the cannery continued to produce vegetables under the brand names MY-T-NICE, EVER-GOOD, BARBARA FRITCHIE and ON-TOP corn, peas and succotash.

Built along the B & O Railroad to facilitate shipping, the brick cannery had three main parts: the central processing station, the shipping section and boiler plant. The cannery was designated a Gaithersburg landmark in 1987.

Walker Avenue in Gaithersburg, late 1920s

Walker Avenue Gaithersburg 1920

Walker Avenue in Gaithersburg taken from the steeple of Grace United Methodist Church, late 1920s. Photo by Lewis Reed

This photo of Walker Avenue in Gaithersburg was taken by Lewis Reed from the steeple of Grace United Methodist Church in the late 1920s. The street is named after John Walker, whose farm became Walker Avenue when he decided to subdivide the front end in 1904. Walker was mayor of Gaithersburg from 1906 to 1908 and again from 1918 to 1924. In June 1913, Walker Avenue was the first street in Gaithersburg to have electric streetlights installed along its full length. This period saw major advances in technology, communication, and transportation. Most of its houses were built between 1904 and 1930.

Thomas Hardware Store, 1928

Thomas Hardware Store, Gaithersburg

Thomas Hardware Store, originally built and operated by Thomas I. Fulks. Photo by Lewis Reed, 1928

The above photo was taken by Lewis Reed when the first system of water mains and sewers were installed by the WSSC in Gaithersburg, circa 1926-1928. The store in the background is the Thomas Hardware Store, originally built and operated by Thomas Iraneous Fulks. The water pipes to be laid are resting by the side of the road. The child on the right in the photograph is Lewis Reed’s daughter, Mary Jane (Reed) Gartner. T. I. Fulks was a businessman and farmer. He worked as a bookkeeper for the Gaithersburg Milling and Manufacturing Company and then opened a hardware store at 219 East Diamond Avenue.

Asbury Methodist Village, late 1920s

Asbury Methodist Village

“Methodist Home for the Aged”. Photo by Lewis Reed, ca. late 1920s

Asbury Methodist Home for the Aged, predecessor of the Village, was established in Montgomery County almost 100 years ago. When care for the elders of the community failed, aged citizens with no funds were designated paupers and sent to the Montgomery County Almshouse on Seven Locks Road in Rockville.

Built in 1926 on the 106-acre dairy farm of William Magruder, called Rolling Acres, Asbury Methodist Home for the Aged opened its doors for residents on April 15, 1926, and the first five elderly residents moved in. The community changed its name to Asbury Methodist Village in 1969. Today, Asbury Methodist Village is the largest continuing care retirement community in Montgomery County, Maryland, and the 14th largest in the United States.

Montgomery County F3 Tornado (Aftermath) May 2, 1929

At about 9 p.m. on Thursday, May 2, 1929, northeastern Montgomery County was struck by an F3 tornado, part of a large storm system that caused devastation from Florida to Ohio. The weekly Montgomery County Sentinel reported on May 10th that the “wind storm of cyclonic power . . . was of limited width and serpentine on its course. Everything in its path met with destruction.” These photographs were taken by Lewis Reed “after the tornado of May 2, 1929”.

1929 Unity Tornado

Spectators view the destruction at the Benson farm, May 1929. Photo by Lewis Reed

The damage in the county was limited to the rural Unity area, north of Brookeville. The Sentinel article detailed each affected farm, noting that “thousands of persons from far and near visited the scene for several days to look upon the indescribable wreckage.”

1929 Unity Tornado

May 1929. Photo by Lewis Reed

From the Sentinel: “The storm showed its first violence upon the farm of Mr. J. William Benson. There it destroyed every building – the dwelling house, large barn, 117 feet long, including an attached shed, and all other outbuildings.” The farm was unoccupied, but furniture belonging to “a prospective tenant” was destroyed. Mr. Benson’s apple orchard was also significantly damaged, and the article claimed that “many [trees] were lifted into the air, carried over woods and landed several miles away.”

The fire departments of Rockville, Gaithersburg and Sandy Spring responded to the call made by farm worker James Leizear, who “extricated himself from the wreckage” and ran half a mile to a neighbor’s house to summon help.

The Post reported on May 4th that 28 people in Maryland and Virginia had been killed by tornadoes during the storm; most of the casualties were in Virginia, where an elementary school was struck full-force and at least 18 children died. In Montgomery County, the local Red Cross Chapter formed a citizen committee to raise funds “for relief of the sufferers.”

Rockville’s Park Avenue Motorcycle Club, 1912

Park Ave Motorcycle Club, 1912

First motorcycle club in Rockville, Maryland. One Harley Davidson, one Indian, and Three Excelsior motorcycles on Park Avenue, 1912. Lewis Reed, far left.

Take a step back in time with this glimpse into an almost forgotten era of Montgomery County history in the early 20th century… the motorcycle era.

Motorcycle clubs began forming in the early 1900s as manufacturers stressed the social, sporting, and healthy outdoors potential of the motorcycle. Both Lewis and Edgar Reed, along with brother-in-law Bernard Hanshew, began their riding adventures with a group of friends from the Park Avenue community in Rockville in the early 1900s.

Historically, riding motorized bikes, like horses, began as a gentleman’s sport. In the early days of motorcycling, propriety dictated that a gentleman be presentable when he went out for a spin. Full-length boots derived from horseback riding and a sporty cap with goggles were adapted to the new pursuit of motorcycle riding.

Park Ave Motorcycle Club, 1912

Edgar Reed (rider second from left) and Lewis Reed standing behind him (others unidentified). On Park Avenue, ca. 1912

Lewis and Edgar Reed

Lewis (back) & Edgar Reed

Early motorcyclists were often pictured in riding groups. From its beginnings, motorcycling developed very much as a social activity. Gentlemen of the day often used it to spice up their sunny weekends and impress ladies.

Motorcyclists on Rt 118 in Darnestown

The Reed motorcycle gang on Rt 118 in Darnestown.

Edgar Reed

Edgar Reed and an unidentified lady on an Excelsior motorcycle.

Motorcyclists on Rt 118 in Darnestown

Motorcyclists on Rt 118 in Darnestown. Edgar Reed, middle

Early 20th century motorcycle club

Left – right: Lewis Reed with camera, Edgar Reed, Bernard Hanshew. The photo was taken 1914 in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. The wooden frame Victorian-style train station dating from 1889 can be seen in the background.

Reed Motorcycle Club, 1912

Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, 1914

Adventurers, enthusiasts, friends, and family… these are the pioneers of Montgomery County who made riding a social pastime, which has carried on in motorcycle travel today. Ultimately, for adventurous spirits exploring rural Maryland in the 1910s, the motorcycle meant freedom. Many of Lewis Reed’s photographs would not exist without it.

 

Women’s History Month | A Spotlight on Blog Author

This special post doesn’t have anything to do with Reed Brothers Dodge history, but it does have a lot to do with this blog’s author. I am so honored and proud to be featured in this article by The United States Air Force Band in recognition of Women’s History Month & International Women’s Day. To read the full article on the Air Force Band’s website, please visit: https://www.music.af.mil/…/IwAR3g1Fiu5VoK9EkGibCUQFtBE…/

From The United States Air Force Band Facebook page

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