Visit Us at 7328 Carroll Avenue

Winter 2014-2015 Events at 7328 Carroll Avenue

Sunday, December 14, 2-5 PM — Historic Takoma Holiday Party. Come for light refreshments and good company! Meet our Board of Directors, hear about our achievements over the year and talk to us about volunteer opportunities. Board members are elected for the coming year. Free.

Thursday, December 18, 7-8:30 PM — "Takoma Park House Histories." Graduate students of Adjunct Associate Professor Dennis Pogue of the Historic Preservation Program at the University of Maryland present the detailed research they performed on the history of several of our houses. Free.

Tuesday, January 13, 7-8:30 PM — "Thanks for the Memories." A benefit for Historic Takoma. Pam Holland, founder of Mindful Decluttering, will teach a workshop on what to do with photos and other memorabilia that represent important pieces of our past and our heritage. Learn how to decide what to keep and how to keep it. Develop your own personal guidelines for what is important in your life now and for the future. For information, contact:

Friday, January 16, 7-9 PM — "Pay 2 Play: Democracy's High Stakes." A film by John Ennis details his quest to find a way out from under the pay to play political system and how much of a difference one person can make. Hosted by the Maryland Committee to Amend and Historic Takoma. Free.

Thursday, January 29, 7-8:30 PM — "Designing the Perfect Kitchen," Donna Godwin, ASID and Director of Design Services for historic local firm Galliher and Huguely, presents design ideas for the kitchen of your dreams. Donna will be bringing all the latest and greatest in design information from her recent attendance at the National Kitchen & Bath Show. Offered as part of Historic Takoma's Home Renovation Series. Free.

Wednesday, February 18, 7-9 PM — "What We Can Learn from English Gardens" with speaker Carolyn Mullet. Takoma Horticultural Club. Free.

Please check for new additions, as events are still being added for the winter season!

Street Address:
7328 Carroll Avenue
Takoma Park, MD 20912
Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 5781
Takoma Park, MD 20913

When visiting Historic Takoma, please walk, bike or take public transportation. Parking is available either in the public lot adjacent to the TPSS Coop, or in front of or behind the Carroll Avenue businesses that are accessed from Lee Avenue.

The Proposed Development at the
Takoma Metro Station

A community fights for its character.

Donate Here to Help Your Neighbors Tame the Super-sized WMATA Development

Benjamin Franklin Gilbert

by Diana Kohn

Many local residents may recognize the gentleman in this Victorian portrait as Benjamin Franklin Gilbert, the founder of Takoma Park. But what is the rest of the story?

Why did he chose this particular corner of the District of Columbia for his sylvan suburb. What were the challenges involved in bringing his vision to life?

On November 24, 1883 Benjamin Franklin Gilbert takes title to roughly 90 acres of land surrounding the Brightwood station on the Baltimore and Ohio railroad line heading north out of Washington DC. In exchange for $7500, he acquires a tangle of mostly unoccupied land lying half in the state of Maryland and half in the District of Columbia.

Gilbert, 42 years old, is a prominent player in the Washington real estate market. For many years he has been trying to convince fellow developers like Alexander Shepherd and Brainard Warner that the future of Washington real estate lies to the north. Time to put his theory to the test.

The train station itself is factor number one. Daily rail service gives the increasing number of federal clerks a new option. They can move their families away from the crowded unhealthy downtown to the rural pleasures six miles north, while remaining within an easy 20 minute commute from their jobs. As Gilbert points out, owning a home is cheaper than renting one.

The land also attracts him. It is high ground compared to the malaria-breeding marshland where the Federal City sits. Trees provide shade, underground springs offer clear cool water, and daily sightings include birds and wildlife.

But first Gilbert must carve streets out of the tangle and subdivide the untamed landscape into tidy plats for eager buyers. Several friends pick out their sites the same day he signs the deed. By spring, the sounds of house construction fill the air. Gilbert recruits several master builders to take up residence so they are on hand to erect houses for future arrivals. As proof of his commitment to the venture, he brings his family to live alongside the first settlers. Rave newspaper reviews and Gilbert's own illustrated promotional brochures spark interest in the suburb he has renamed Takoma Park. An Evening Star ad in 1889 lists 235 owners of lots.

Planning for the future, Gilbert generously allocates space for parks in new subdivisions, donates land for a community church at Maple and Tulip Avenues, and pays for street improvements from his own pocket. One small quirk is his insistence that all deeds include a clause barring sale and manufacture of alcohol, reflecting his long-held temperance beliefs.

In 1890, residents ask the Maryland State Assembly for formal incorporation as a town. The State agrees — but at great price — the town boundaries exclude land in the District, disenfranchising half the community. Gilbert prevails in the first election, taking the mayor's chair, but he holds office just over two years before stepping down to address business difficulties. He never recovers from the Panic of 1893 and a stroke in 1901 saps his health.

Gilbert dies on April 17, 1907, his fortunes diminished but secure in the knowledge that the sylvan suburb he established is on solid ground.

For more details on Gilbert, explore these links to documents in our Archives: