The Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club opened in March, but it has delayed an official re-opening celebration until it could celebrate another milestone.
On May 17, the Club will couple a ribbon-cutting ceremony with a celebration of the historic Bethesda Theatre’s 75th anniversary. Jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis will take the stage for a special performance.
The theater (7719 Wisconsin Ave.) was built in 1938 in the streamline moderne style and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s Wisconsin Avenue marquee went unchanged until the Club took over operations and renovated the 500-seat theater for $8 million.
The theater went to auction in 2010 with a $4 million debt attached. A $12 million contribution from developer Bozzuto Group helped re-open it in 2007 when Bozzuto built The Whitney apartment complex above it.
Club owner Rick Brown’s mother graduated from Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School on the theater’s stage in 1947. He remembered going to movies there when it was still a movie theater in the 1950′s.
On May 17 at 6 p.m., local dignitaries and others will make remarks and cut a ribbon. A cocktail reception will follow from 6:30 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. The main event, with Marsalis, starts with dinner at 7:15 p.m. and the show at 8:30 p.m. Tickets cost $175 and include dinner, drinks, tax, handling and gratuity.
For more info, visit the Club website.
Members of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rotary Club celebrated the Club’s 80th anniversary last week, a chance to look back at the early days of the group that had much to do with the development of Bethesda.
The list of charter members reads like a who’s who of men who helped shape the area after the Great Depression.
Thomas W. Perry, Sr. started the TW Perry lumber yard business that remains in Chevy Chase. Thomas Pyle was the B-CC High School principal who today has a middle school named after him. George P. Sacks was the banker who built the Sacks Neighborhood. John Henry Hiser managed Hiser Theater, where at one time, a newsreel, cartoon and feature cost 20 cents.
They were among the 17 members of the Club when it began on April, 12 1933. On Thursday, the Club of roughly 80 Rotarians representing local businesses, nonprofits and other professional organizations gathered at the Mansion At Strathmore for an anniversary reception.
The Club started small before growing, like much of the Washington area, during and after World War II. Early fundraising was geared toward B-CC High School, Suburban Hospital, and a student loan fund. The Club sponsored a trip for 25 boys to attend the 1939 World’s Fair.
In the late 60′s, the Rotary started its own incorporated foundation. The Turkey Chase 10K race and 2-mile fun run began in 1983 under Club President Hank Bowis with 300 runners and $3,100 in fundraising for the Bethesda YMCA. Last year’s race had more than 9,000 participants and raised almost $200,000.
Also in 1983, the Club donated the clock at Bethesda Metro Center in honor of its 50th anniversary. In 1987, Amalie Dobres was elected as the Club’s first female honorary member. Joan Finnerty, the president of Suburban Hospital, was elected as the first active member. Carol Trawick served as the first female president in 1998.
In the early 40′s, every war bond bought at the Hiser Theater meant free admission.
Talks at the group’s weekly luncheon, which for most years has been held at Kenwood Country Club, included “The American Businessman’s Answer to Communist Atheism.”
The core purpose of the Rotary has always been charity, both for local causes and Rotary causes worldwide, such as polio research.
“We have members who are all business folks who want to give back their time to support charitable works. Most of our money goes right back into the community,” said Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services director Ken Hartman, a member of the Club and the county government’s point man in Bethesda. ”We’re really fortunate to have a Rotary Club in Bethesda that’s been so active over the last 80 years.”
Photos via Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rotary Club
The arrival of the Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club is a boon for Bethesda’s arts and entertainment scene. It also should help make the historic Bethesda Theatre a viable part of the community again, just in time for its 75th anniversary.
History was a big theme during yesterday’s press tour of the revamped theater and club, particularly for Montgomery County native and club owner Rick Brown. Brown’s mother graduated from Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School on the theater’s stage in 1947. He remembered going to movies there when it was still a movie theater in the 1950′s.
Brown spoke about the history of the surrounding area to Montgomery Community Media and talked about how the Bethesda Theatre fits in.
Built in 1938, the Streamline Moderne movie theater is on the National Register of Historic Places and thanks to Brown and the Club, it’s in open and running again.
Video via MYMCMedia
Montgomery Parks staff and consultants on Monday outlined plans for a Josiah Henson museum that will focus on the life of the famous escaped slave and examine the context of slavery in Montgomery County.
In the hour-long presentation at Tilden Middle School, Parks project managers, the project architect and the person hired to design the exhibits spoke about their plans to design a state-of-the-art museum on a relatively tiny 1.5-acre parcel of land on Old Georgetown Road.
They also discussed potential parking issues and the exhibit’s compatibility with MCPS lesson plans. They expect a large share of museum visitors will be students on field trips.
“We know we want to tie the storyline tightly to what these teachers are addressing,” said Larissa Hallgren, who is helping to design the exhibits out of the Boston-based Experience Design company. “We want a site that’s going to we hope be essential for our social studies teachers so it will fit neatly into their curriculum.”
The project would rehabilitate the existing Riley/Bolten House and log kitchen on the former plantation (11420 Old Georgetown Rd.) into exhibits that would share the life of Rev. Josiah Henson, who lived on the property as a slave before escaping to Canada.
Henson is the inspiration for Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” the landmark anti-slavery novel published in 1852.
The county bought the property for $1 million in 2006. The log cabin on the site, once known as Uncle Tom’s Cabin Special Park, was discovered to have been built after Henson left the plantation, causing some controversy.
But Montgomery Parks said they would have bought the property with that knowledge as it still is historic.
The review of design plans for the museum project is scheduled for 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 4 in the cafeteria of nearby Tilden Middle School (11211 Old Georgetown Rd., Rockville.) For more information, visit the Parks’ project page.
Flickr photo by lreed76
Before Montgomery County Parks can put a $100,000 federal grant to use by building a museum at Josiah Henson Park, it must get approval on a unique agreement with the National Park Service.
The NPS awarded Montgomery County the grant, part of its “Save America’s Treasures” program, in 2009. The county wants to use the money to help build a museum that would explore the life of Josiah Henson, the slave who lived on the site and whose 1849 autobiography became the inspiration for the landmark novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”
But because the county owns the land, it can not legally be both the grantor and grantee of a historic property easement, which the NPS requires as part of the grant.
So the County Planning Board on Thursday, Jan. 10 will review a special agreement between all parties involved in the North Bethesda park. The covenant would require the county’s Historic Preservation Commission to maintain, repair and administer the property “in a manner satisfactory to the Secretary of the Interior,” thus giving NPS some input into the management of the property.
Planning Department staff is recommending going through with the agreement, as it “promotes the long-term survival of the property,” and “is necessary under the terms of the Save America’s Treasures Grant.”
The county bought the property, known as the Riley Home for the family that once owned the farm, for $1 million in 2006. Henson lived on the farm as a slave.
But controversy ensued when historians discovered Henson had never lived in the old cabin on the site. It was built after Henson had left the farm. His slave quarters had long been demolished. The Parks Department issued a series of corrections and clarifications that pointed out the county would have bought the property even with that knowledge.
The park, once known as Uncle Tom’s Cabin Special Park, is now known as Josiah Henson Park.
Flickr photo by lreed76
Lot 31 Excavation Reveals Old B & O Railroad Tracks — Excavation work on the site of the former public parking lot at the corner of Woodmont and Bethesda Avenues revealed remnants from the Georgetown Branch of the B & O Railroad that ran through downtown Bethesda until 1985. [The Gazette]
County to Start Curb, Sidewalk Repairs in North Bethesda — In Early September, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation will begin curb and sidewalk concrete repairs in the Devonshire Estates neighborhood near Tuckerman Lane and Old Georgetown Road. [Montgomery County]
Leggett Promises Funding for New Schools — County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) said the county would cut back in other areas to ensure funding for new school buildings and renovations. The school system is facing an increase of more than 10,000 students in the past 10 years and the county must deal with the budget ramifications of the state teacher pension shift. [WAMU]
Post Office Customers Can Now Use Nearby Garage — The U.S. Postal Service branch at 6900 Wisconsin Avenue is offering parking to customers in the underground garage of the Adagio condominium. Customers must get their parking tickets validated. Residents and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) complained of a lack of parking options at the new post office location. [The Gazette]
Flickr photo by Elvert Barnes