Saturday, June 6, 2009

Silver Spring Avenue, Then and Now


This is the house my mother grew up in at 917 Silver Spring Avenue. The watercolor above was painted by my uncle from the photograph shown below. If you look closely at the photo you can see my grandmother standing in front of the steps, and the two little kids sitting in the dirt driveway on the right are my mother and her brother Philip, who painted the picture many years later. You can click on the photo if you want to get a closer view of it.


In the mid-1960s the county forced my grandparents to sell so that they could put in this parking lot, shown below. It has looked like this ever since.

Now it seems they have some big plans for this area, which you can read about here. At least it will look a lot nicer than it has for the past 40 years or so.

And if you want to do more reading about this area, there is a very interesting post about the houses that used to exist one block over, on Sligo Avenue.

13 comments:

SingLikeSassy said...

Man that house was gorgeous! I'd give my eyetooth for a house like that today..

Cyndy said...

Thanks Sassy - I think that house was undoubtedly what sparked my fascination with old houses and why we are now in the midst of building a fake old house, although I still really miss the real one we used to have.

Barbara said...

All in the name of progress, yes? I'm so sorry the original house had to go. I hope they were at least adequately paid for the house and property.

Cyndy said...

Barbara, I think the county pays what it wants to pay when it wants your property. I don't think it was particularly advantageous to my grandparents. I wish all the houses on that block were still there.

Mike said...

They paved paradise and put up a parking lot (insert song in head now). Will Fenton Village include a pink hotel, a boutique and a swinging hot spot? Seriously, cool house and cool pics. Porches that can accomodate a conversation with a neighbor walking by aren't generally seen in new construction, not to mention sidewalks.

Garrett said...

I understand progress but it infuriates me that the government thinks progress is a parking lot. That parking lot somehow benefited the community better then a stable family home. Anyway, great picture and your uncle is very talented.

LiLu said...

A village sounds nice...

Building that old beautiful house back sounds nicer.

Cyndy said...

Mike - it's been a pretty long time since I associated that song with my grandparents house. But I most certainly did think of their house whenever I heard that song. They had a porch swing - that's paradise right there!

Garrett - It was always a mystery to me why they felt they needed to take the property. It's been nothing but a parking lot, and a lame one at that, for more than 30 years.

Lilu - I hope whatever it is that they are doing is something that the people in the nearby neighborhoods will enjoy.

Anonymous said...

To see photos of other turn-of-the-century houses torn down in downtown Silver Spring, go to http://www.takoma.com/ssthenagain/2009/04/east-silver-springs-forgotten.html

Cyndy said...

Thanks Anonymous! I visited that link - pretty fascinating stuff! I tried to post a comment to that effect but the comment thing didn't seem to work. That guy Jerry McCoy has done some excellent research.

Washington Cube said...

Cyndy: I know both of those streets well, and I still have a friend living on Sligo Avenue, not far from the old Vince Agnes Florist shop. For the longest time, Vince Agnes had the best designers in the D.C. area, by my book. I used them for several events, and I could go in with my fanciful ideas, and they would always come through. I know one year I had a mussy tussy made for a friend's birthday, and people are still talking about it. I went to Vince Agnes their last year for some Black Magic Roses, and it was a disaster. Even Sonny, the guy who did my designs, looked ashamed handing them over to me. I drove by one day, and *poof* gone, like so many small businesses owned by older people. They turned it into a car driving school, and I just went by there on Sunday night and it looked vacant. Silver Spring Avenue is another street the city turned into a right royal mess. A lot of car repair shops and junk.

I lived on Montgomery Avenue in Bethesda for a while, and they ripped down that old charming house and put up a five story office building on it, and the street was full of houses just like your grandparents.

America doesn't honor it's history like other countries. I can go to an umbrella shop, or a paper shop, in London, and they've been there hundreds of years. Old doesn't mean "rip down" over there.

Thank God you have the watercolor and photographs to remember that time in your family's history.

e said...

Lovely photos and memories and I'm with Washington Cube...We need to do more to protect and preserve than rip away. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

Cyndy said...

Cube - I confess I had to google to find out what a "mussy tussy" is.

Cube and e: I suppose I'm particularly sensitive to the tragedy of tearing down of old houses because of what happened with our old house. It wasn't my choice and I wish it was still there. But the new fake old house will be really nice if we ever manage to finish it.