Welcome to Silver Spring, Maryland!
On Friday, I was to attend a day-long conference in Silver Spring
, Maryland. Silver Spring
is another of the Maryland suburbs that, like Rockville, I rarely have occasion to visit, so I hoped there would be time for a look at it. The conference, a system user group meeting, was to be held on the campus of Montogmery College
. To reach Silver Spring, I drove around the Capital Beltway to the far opposite side of the circumferential highway from Springfield, and exited at Georgia Avenue. I had been concerned about morning rush hour traffic, so left home at 7:00 a.m., but traffic was not too bad this day.
Downtown Silver Spring
Georgia Avenue led directly into Silver Spring. My campus map showed there was a college parking garage nearby. I found it without too much difficulty, but then noted a sign that stated only parking permit holders were--permitted. Back to the street. It took a bit more time, but I found a commercial parking gararge where the fee was $6 per day. (No bad around here.) I could easily walk from there to the campus and was on site at 8:20 a.m.
The sessions were over by 3:30 p.m. They day was overcast, but there would be plenty of time for a little exploration before retuning home! I'd noted that the academic building in which the conference was held was adjacent to Blair Park
. And in the park, were historical markers! Let's see what's there, thought I.
Silver Spring takes its name from the 1840 country estate of Francis Preston Blair.
(Blair had been invited to come to Washington, DC, from Kentucky by President Andrew Jackson. Blair and his descendants were to play interesting roles in US politics in years to come.) Two other family estate were consructed nearby, Falklands, the home of his son, Montgomery Blair, and The Moorings, home of his son James Blair. (Montgomery Blair was Lincoln's Postmaster General as well as being an attorney who defended Dred Scott, a former salve, before Roger Taney's Supreme Court in 1857.)
Looking around the park, I learned that the Blair homes played a role in the attempted Confederate attack on Washington, DC, in 1864 and the battle at nearby Fort Stevens in the District of Columbia. So, that piece of history tied in with my visit to Fort Stevens in 2001. Unfortuntely, the historical role played by the Blair property also included the destruction of Falklands as the Confederate troops retreated.
Today, only The Moorings, now known as the Jesup Blair House
, remains. Member of the Blair family lived in the house until the 1930s before donating it to Montgomery County. The house is well maintained and interpreted, but is in use as a country transtional residence and is not open to the public. In back is the solitary ruin of a chimney. It is not interpreted and no one seems to know what it represents. My conjecture would be that it is the chimney from a detached kitchen outbuilding, long since vanished.
From the park, I walked back along Georgia Avenue towards that parking garage, but not without stopping to take photos along the way. Silver Spring presents an interesting mix of late 19th and early 20th century low-rise commercial buildings together with mid-rise office buildings and hotels of recent times. Silver Spring also seems to like outdoor sculpture. A whimsical sculpture of a penguin particularly caught my attention. I stopped by the World War II era railway station. While there, Amtrak's Capital Limited
, en route from Washington, DC, to Chicago, came by!
An informative conference. A historic house. Even a train. A fine day I'd say!