The following is a "history of the Pike District" developed for the upcoming pikedistrict.org website.
Native American peoples traveled along an ancient route known as the Seneca Trail which today is approximately followed by Old Georgetown Road (MD 187). Portions of General Edward Braddock's army followed the Seneca Trail from Alexandria, VA, to Cumberland, MD, during the ill-fated Braddock Expedition of 1755.
In the early 19th century, much of the area was a 3,700-acre tobacco plantation owned by the Riley family. One of the Riley’s slaves, Josiah Henson, kept a memoir which inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin. The plantation's kitchen (in which Henson is known to have slept) still stands at 11420 Old Georgetown Rd.
In 1806, the Washington Turnpike Company began improvements to the old Seneca Trail, by then known as the Georgetown-Frederick Road. The Rockville and Georgetown Turnpike (Rockville Pike) opened in 1818 and by-passed Old Georgetown Rd. through the Rock Creek stream valley. The Turnpike became part of the National Old Trails Road – the route taken by settlers heading west. From 1829 to 1887, a toll booth stood on Rockville Pike near at today’s Strathmore Avenue.
By the mid-19th century, the small community of Montrose grew up near Old Georgetown Road and Rockville Pike and included a Post Office and one-room school (built in 1868). Montrose’s population skyrocketed with the completion of the B&O Railroad in 1873 and by 1879, school enrollment was more than 50 children. The two-room Montrose School was completed in 1909 and housed classes from the 1st to 7th grades. The school building still stands on Randolph Road near Rockville Pike and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
During the Civil War, the area saw skirmishing associated with Confederate General Jubal Early’s raid on Washington and the Battle of Fort Stevens. On the morning of July 11, 1864 Confederate General John McCausland advanced south on Rockville Pike, headed for Fort Reno. Not far south of Rockville, McCausland was met by a small Union force. Outmanned and outgunned, the Union troops fell back to the location of modern-day Bethesda where they checked McCausland’s advance.
From the late 19th century to the 1930s, the area was served by a trolley service connecting Georgetown and Rockville operated by the Tennallytown and Rockville Railway. The trolley route is now used by the Bethesda Trolley Hiker-Biker Trail. (map)
Tenallytown to Rockville Trolley
In 1919, Georgetown Prep School moved to its current location on Rockville Pike from its original site in Old Georgetown Heights where it had been established in 1789. In 1920, the present-day Strathmore Mansion was the estate house for Charles Corby, who helped revolutionize the baking industry. Much of the Corby estate later became the site of the Holy Cross Academy and the Music Center at Strathmore.
Dietle’s Tavern, located on Rockville Pike directly across from White Flint Mall, has been in operation since 1916. Dietle’s holds Montgomery County’s first beer and wine license.
Rockville Pike became part of the US Highway System in 1926 as part of US Route 240. As the Washington National Pike (now I-270) was completed in stages beginning in the early 1950s, the routing of US 240 was moved over and Rockville Pike was designated MD 355. During this time, Rockville Pike was transformed by suburban shopping centers into a retail destination.
The Grosvenor neighborhood is named for Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor, former President of the National Geographic Society and editor of the National Geographic Magazine. Grosvenor was hired in 1899 as the first full-time employee of the Society by Alexander Graham Bell, the Society's President at the time. He eventually was named Director, and later President of the Society, and remained Editor of the magazine until 1954. Grosvenor married Elsie May Bell, the daughter of Alexander Graham Bell. Grosvenor's estate "Wild Acres" can still be found on Grosvenor Lane, just west of Rockville Pike.
The first known use of the name “White Flint” was by the White Flint Country Club which opened in 1930 on Rockville pike near Nicholson Lane. The name was derived from quartz rock - sometimes bearing gold - found in the area.
The name Twinbrook or Twin-Brook came from the developers who originally established the City of Rockville's Twinbrook subdivision in 1946. The name was a reference to the two tributaries of Rock Creek that traversed the original 200 acres of the development.
In 1960, Sargent Shriver and Eunice Kennedy established “Camp Shriver” nearby at Timberlawn - a short distance from today's Wall Park. Camp Shriver was a fun place where children with special needs and intellectual disabilities could receive one-on-one attention and be physically active in the summertime. Camp Shriver eventually morphed into the Special Olympics, a worldwide organization that serves 4.2 million athletes in 170 different countries.
The Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro Station opened on July 24, 1984. On December 15 of that year, the White Flint and Twinbrook Metro Stations were opened. The openings marked the completion of the western leg of Metro’s Red Line which also included stations at Rockville and Shady Grove.