Underground Railroad History Walking Tours

The Christ Episcopal Church in Rockville, a rumored stop on the Underground Railroad

The Christ Episcopal Church in Rockville, a rumored stop on the Underground Railroad

On Wednesday, July 29, Join Peerless Rockville, the Menare Foundation, the Montgomery County Historical Society, and Susan Soderberg of the Germantown Historical Society for a walking tour of Underground Railroad History in Rockville.

Hear about the life of Josiah Henson (the model for the title character of Uncle Tom’s Cabin) who risked all for freedom and whose autobiography inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe. Find out about the young Ann Maria Weems, who escaped slavery in Rockville dressed as a coachman and whose story vividly illustrated the twists and turns of ongoing research on the Underground Railroad.

Tours will leave at 2 pm and 6 pm from the site of the Confederate Soldier on the east lawn of the Red Brick Courthouse. Tours are free and open to all.

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County Executive Plans to Move Confederate Statue

The Confederate Statue in Rockville (Photo Courtesy of Katherine M. Rogers)

The Confederate Statue in Rockville (Photo Courtesy of Katherine M. Rogers)

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett is moving forward with plans to remove the Confederate Statue from the grounds of the Red Brick Courthouse.

On the evening of July 20th, 2015, Rockville Mayor and Council held a worksession on the future of the Confederate Statue located on the grounds of the Red Brick Courthouse. Please find below Peerless Rockville’s statement to the Rockville Mayor and Council, as well as contact information for the Montgomery County Councilmembers and County Executive Leggett.

Peerless Rockville invites our membership, partners, and interested residents who value the historical integrity of Courthouse Square Historic District to contact Mr. Leggett and their elected representatives on the County Council, as well as remind them that any alteration to this local historic district must be brought before the City of Rockville Historic District Commission.

Peerless Rockville’s July 20 Statement to Rockville Mayor and Council

Contact information for Montgomery County County Executive and Councilmembers

County Executive Isiah Leggett
Executive Office Building (EOB)
101 Monroe Street, 2nd Floor
Rockville, MD 20850

Email: ocemail@montgomerycountymd.gov
Phone: (240) 777-2500
TTY: (240) 777-2544
FAX: (240) 777-2517

Montgomery County Council
Stella B. Werner Council Office Building
100 Maryland Avenue
Rockville, MD 20850
Phone: (240) 777-7900
TTY: (240) 777-7914
FAX: (240) 777-7989
Email: county.council@montgomerycountymd.gov

You can also locate your County Council Member (district map here) and contact them with your concerns.

Potomac/Bethesda
District 1 Roger Berliner 240-777-7828
Germantown District 2 Craig Rice 240-777-7955
Rockville District 3 Sidney Katz 240-777-7812
Wheaton District 4 Nancy Navarro 240-777-7968
Silver Spring District 5 Tom Hucker  240-777-7960
All Districts At Large Marc Elrich 240-777-7966
All Districts At Large Nancy Floreen 240-777-7959
All Districts At Large George Leventhal 240-777-7811
All Districts At Large Hans Riemer 240-777-7964

 

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The History and Future of the Rockville Confederate Soldier Statue

The Confederate Statue in Rockville (Photo Courtesy of Katherine M. Rogers)

The Confederate Statue in Rockville, 2015 (Photo Courtesy of Katherine M. Rogers)

At a worksession on Monday, July 20th at 6 pm, Rockville Mayor and Council will discuss the future of the Confederate Soldier Statue. This meeting is open to the public. Please attend to let Mayor and Council know your thoughts on this historic monument!

The History of Rockville’s Confederate Soldier

The statue was unveiled and dedicated on June 3, 1913. This date was Jefferson Davis’ birthday and 50 years after the Battle of Gettysburg, a time when reconciliation and ceremonies were important to surviving veterans on both sides of the Civil War. Judge Edward C. Peter and Rockville Mayor Lee Offutt made keynote speeches at the dedication. It has been suggested, but not documented, that the soldier’s head was modeled after Spencer C. Jones, Confederate veteran, Mayor of Rockville 1898-1901, and father-in-law of an official in the foundry that cast the statue. The location was a prominent public space – a triangular park opposite the Red Brick Courthouse. The triangle was used for important public items such as a hay-weighing station, a weather station, and public water fountains labeled “white” and “colored.”

The Rockville Confederate Statue in 1927 (Photo from Peerless Rockville's Collections)

The Rockville Confederate Statue in 1927 (Photo from Peerless Rockville’s Collections)

The statue remained in this location for over 50 years, though it was moved a few feet to the west in the 1930s to accommodate the widening of Perry Street. Angry members of the United Daughters of the Confederacy chased off an attempt to install the four sided town clock in the park in 1939.

The planned elimination of this park during Urban Renewal caused the City and Montgomery County to consider the future of the Confederate Statue in the late 1960s. Urban design consultants identified it as one of the few items with historical significance in central Rockville and recommended its relocation to the east side of the Red Brick Courthouse. The Mayor and Council, acting as the Local Public Agency for Urban Renewal, held public hearings on the matter and staff recommended requesting permission from the County Executive to relocate the statue. On August 13, 1971, County Executive James Gleason gave Rockville Mayor Achilles Tuchtan permission to do so.

On November 2, 1971 the statue was disassembled, then reassembled on its original base (with a 1971 penny between base and statue) five days later on the Courthouse lawn in its present location. The move was part of a contract for construction of Courthouse Square and the City paid for the move with federal funds. The statue remains facing south. In 1975, Montgomery County planted several trees nearby.

In 1994, the Maryland Military Monuments Commission (MMMC) was scheduled to clean and stabilize the statue, as it did for other monuments around the state. At that time, Peerless Rockville called a meeting with partners and those interested in the Confederate statue. The consensus of the group was to leave the statue where it is and improve its physical environment in order to aid conservation.

On September 17, 1994, the statue was rededicated in a ceremony sponsored by the Sons of Confederate Veterans. A Kensington resident, Edith Ray Saul, who was at the 1913 dedication, was present in the audience. The keynote speaker was an African-American professor from American University, Edward Smith, and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Captain Thomas G. Kelley, USN Ret. was a special guest. The ceremony included a color guard, wreath-laying, music, and reenactments. Numerous County officials attended and later that year, as Governor W.D. Schaeffer toured military monuments in Maryland, the Confederate statue was his first stop.

In the late 1990s, the County improved the grounds of Courthouse Square, including walkways and other landscaping. The ‘Spirit of Rockville’ statue in the fountain in front of the Red Brick Courthouse included a crack in its base symbolizing the division in the Rockville community during the Civil War.

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Peerless Offices Closed on July 3

4th-of-July-Parade

1890s parade on Montgomery Avenue (from the Charles Brewer Collection, part of Peerless Rockville’s Collection).

Happy 4th of July from Peerless Rockville!

In honor of Independence Day, Peerless Rockville will be closed on July 3, 2015.

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Heritage Days Bike Tour Cancelled

15143-illustration-of-a-stormy-cloud-with-light-rain-pvDue to stormy weather forecast for tomorrow, Peerless Rockville and the Rockville Bike Advisory Committee have decided to cancel the bike tour of historic sites.

We hope to reschedule this event for later in the summer or fall!

Weather permitting, walking tours of the Courthouse Square Historic District will still depart from the Red Brick Courthouse at 11 am and 1 pm.

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