Staycationer’s Guide to North Woodside

Sights to See: Natural Wonders, e.g. “The Niagara of North Woodside,” viewable whenever the sky really unleashes.

Want to know where some famous people grew up? Which house still has an old horse hitch and well in back? Where the hidden stream flows? Where to find some delicious guava, mango, or soursop ice cream on a hot and sultry day?

Discover the humble wonders of our very own neighborhood in The Staycationer’s Guide to North Woodside. Written and organized like a tourist guide book—Sights to See (Natural Wonders, Historical Sites, Botanical Gardens), Things to Do, Where to Eat, and How to Get Around—the guide’s 27 pages contain almost 60 things* to see and do around the neighborhood—something for all ages and staycation inclinations!

How to Get Around: By bike! Need a tune up? Contact Freewheeling Bike Tune-Ups, a free service of North Woodside resident Manuel Vera.

The guide was a fun little summer pandemic project a couple years ago for North Woodside resident Anna White. This summer it may be of particular interest to any new neighbors wishing to get to know their new home better, anyone who’s had their vacation plans scuttled by airline cancellations or Covid, and parents and caregivers of young children looking for ideas for simple, fun, and creative activities to pass away downtime.

North Woodside residents and NWCA members who are subscribed to the neighborhood listserv can access the guide in the listserv’s online file section (Click on the “Fun” folder). A digital or hard copy can also be requested by sending an email to the NWCA Communications Coordinator.

Enjoy the Local Art Scene: Check out the painted stones around the neighborhood!

Thanks again to all the neighbors who provided information for the guide!  If after skimming through it you’d like to suggest additional North Woodside-related history, places, things, or activities to include in an updated version, please do!

For a few more things to do and see listed in The Staycationer’s Guide to North Woodside, see below.

* Note: A few listings in the guide are now out-of-date.  Likewise, there are a number of brand new neighborhood sights to see and things to do that are not listed and may be included in a future revised version.

Things to Do: Peruse Used Books. Visit one of the four little libraries in North Woodside. Above: Children read books found in the Philip F. Welsh Memorial Library.
Participate in the Local Art Scene: Color in a North Woodside Coloring Page. Neighborhood resident Barry Galef created one for each of 12 neighborhood scavenger hunts that took place Spring 2020. The one above was for the Scavenger Hunt #1 (One-of-a-Kind Decorations).
Sights to See: Historical Sites, e.g. Houses That Mirror the History of Residential Architecture. Can you find the above Sears Kit House?
Sights to See: Botanical Gardens. There are many small and beautiful gardens to be found in North Woodside through the seasons.
Places to Eat: Tropics Ice Cream. The best tropical ice cream around!

How to Remove a Racist Deed Covenant

By Ricky Albores, Honorary NWCA Member

As you may know, the Maryland Legislature passed a law in 2020 to allow residents to file amendments to historic deeds to remove racially restrictive covenants from land records.

I had heard that some homeowners associations had successfully applied to have racist covenants stricken from their deeds as early as 2019. In November 2021, I contacted the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s office for instructions on how to do this myself under the 2020 law. They sent me an intake form and instructions. I had already found the original deed to our house in the Maryland Land Records. The process took a little time to work my way back through the intervening deeds, which contained the relevant deed book/folio and page numbers to find the first deed from the Woodside Development Corporation to J. Reginald Boyd, the buyer who had our house built.

Once I found the deed, I was hoping it didn’t have a racially restrictive covenant, but alas it did. The 1925 deed provided, among other things, that:

“For the purpose of sanitation and health, neither the said party of the second part [buyer], nor their heirs or assigns shall or will sell or lease the said land to any one OF A RACE WHOSE DEATH RATE IS AT A HIGHER PERCENTAGE THAN THE WHITE RACE.” (Emphasis added)

I printed out the deed, crossed out the offensive covenant, filled out the State of Maryland Restrictive Covenant modification form, and took it to the Montgomery County Circuit Court, where a clerk took my documents, but issued no receipt or copy. Three months later I received my original signed and approved intake form and modified deed. Upon examination, it appears the county attorney approved the modification on January 18, 2022. I looked up the modification in the Maryland Land Records and found the modification online. All in all a fairly simple process after finding the deed. Also a satisfying personal endeavor that I’m happy to share with my neighbors across Georgia Ave.

Editor’s note: Ricky recently moved to nearby Woodside Park, after living on Hanover St. for 20 years. Many properties in North Woodside have similar racist deed covenants.

» Want to find out if your house has a racist deed covenant? You’ll need to do a chain of title search to dig up old deeds.

Steps in the Chain of Title Search Process (Montgomery County, MD)

By Kirsten L. Crase, PhD

The best place to begin your chain of title search is Montgomery County Atlas.

  1. Enter the property address in the box at the top: A map identifying your property within its neighborhood context will appear.
  2. Double-click within the boundary line of the property (zoom in first, if necessary), and a box showing basic property details will appear (owner, land use category, assessment date, year built, etc.).
  3. Click on Data Description at the top of the box for a brief description of each piece of data listed; of most importance are the liber and folio numbers. This set of numbers constitutes the first deed in your chain of title.

Your next stop is the Maryland Land Records Database. You’ll need to submit a request for an account before you can access the database. Once you have your account and the liber and folio number for your property’s current deed, you can begin searching. It’s always best to start with the current deed, even if you’ve identified previous deed information.

  1. Select your county (Montgomery) from the upper-left drop-down menu.
  2. On the search page that opens, search using the top box, titled “Jump to New Volume,” searching via liber and folio numbers.
  3. Skipping the Clerk box, enter your liber number in the Book box and your folio number in the Page box.
  4. The deed document that opens will be the current deed for your property, which should list the current owners as the grantees (buyers), along with the grantors (sellers). It will provide the date of the property transfer and a description of the property, often including the lot number, block number, subdivision name, and the location within Montgomery County Land Records of the document recording the original platting of the subdivision within which it is located. (For example, “…the west 50 feet in width of Lot No. 3, in Block No. 20 by the full depth of 150 feet, in the subdivision of land known as and called B.F. Leighton’s Addition to Woodside, as per plat recorded in Plat Book A, Plat No. 60.”)
  5. With this information, you can visit plats.net. Start by selecting Montgomery County in the drop-down menu, and when the Basic Search box appears, enter the plat book number and plat number in the appropriate boxes. You should see the name of the appropriate subdivision and a hyperlink to an MSA (Maryland State Archives) accession number. Click on this link, and you will be taken to the original platting record of the subdivision (usually a map of the subdivision) within which your property resides.

At this point you know the starting point (current deed) and ending point (subdivision platting) of your chain of title, but you must fill in all the deeds in-between. To do this, return to mdlandrec.net and begin working your way backward from the current deed.

In the current deed, somewhere below the property description, there may be a paragraph that notes the liber and folio number of the previous deed. If so, return to the search page and enter this information, and continue following this process until you reach a deed that does not list the previous deed’s information. Unfortunately, this may happen at almost any point in the chain of title search.

When this happens, return to the main Montgomery County Land Records Indices page.

If the oldest deed you locate is from 1977 or later, click on “Individual Search” or “Corporation Search” in the left-hand column. This is a straightforward search process that involves entering the name in question and the date parameters.

If the oldest deed you locate is from 1976 or earlier, click on “Active Indices” in the column on the left. Since the grantee name is the only name you know at this point (i.e., the grantor on the oldest deed you’ve located), click on “Land Records, Grantee Index, 1777–1976” in the drop-down menu. Then choose which block of dates you want to search within. Begin with the most recent block of possible dates for the deed you’re searching for; for example, if your earliest known deed is dated March 5, 1975, begin with the indices from 1973–1977. Under this block of dates, look for the first letter of the owner’s surname, or corporation name, and then the first letter of their given name. Once this page opens, click on the red hyperlink on the right — “How to Use Montgomery County Land Record Indices” — for an overview of the process used to continue your search from here. Once you find the next-oldest deed, the previous deed’s liber and folio numbers may be listed here, but if not, repeat the process of using the Active Indices search option (or Individual/Corporation search, if it’s still later than 1977) to continue to work backward. You’ll know you’ve reached the end of your chain of title when you locate the deed in which the name of the grantor is the individual or corporation that platted the subdivision in question.

How-To: Historic Newspaper Research

By Kirsten L. Case, PhD

The local “newspaper of record” for many decades.

The most user-friendly source of historic newspapers is the Library of Congress website “Chronicling America” (chroniclingamerica.loc.gov), which provides free access to a searchable network of digitized newspapers from across the country. The Advanced Search tab allows you to select a specific state, or the District of Columbia, to search within, and gives you multiple options for key word searches.

For Montgomery County, it is always a good idea to try each search in both Maryland and the District of Columbia. The “Evening Star” (Washington, D.C.) was considered the newspaper of record for many decades, and it is also a wonderful source of social news for the city and the
surrounding counties. The “Montgomery County Sentinel” is another important local newspaper in the database.

Editor’s note: If you would like to be part of an organized approach to neighborhood history research — or if you come across any interesting information related to neighborhood history that you’d be willing to share with neighbors — contact the North Woodside History Group.

Digging into Neighborhood History

On February 16, 2022, many neighbors tuned into an online training by Kirsten L. Crase, PhD, University of Maryland, on how to research the history of their homes. The training inspired a search of historic newspaper digital archives for articles related to the neighborhood. Among many fascinating finds, neighbors uncovered a plethora of original advertisements for North Woodside homes. Can you find these homes today?

Source: Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. Dates/Pages (left to right): September 15, 1928, Page 23; August 21, 1936, Page 16; September 6, 1930, Page B2; April 25, 1931, Page B2.

Many of the old North Woodside advertisements, such as the large one above, tout the
“exclusive” nature of the community and “the protection of its sensible restrictions,” not-so-subtle allusions to racially restrictive deed covenants.

For more information on researching the history of your home:

And if you discover your home has a racist deed covenant:

Story of the Woodlin Wizard Weather Vane

By Phil Termini

Skip back to end of the school year 2002. What happened to the Woodlin Wizards weather vane on the cupola atop our elementary school? It seems to have vanished! Bummer, “the pump don’t work cuz the vandals took the handle.”

My and my wife Patricia’s son Tony was finishing his last year there, and our two daughters attended there as well. So I got the notion to try to do something as a tribute for the school and the wonderful principal, Emily Kesser, like making a new weather vane to replace the one taken by the vandals. Having been around the block a few times in my youth, I had an idea. Signs went up around the area offering a no-questions-asked $100 cash reward for the weather vane’s return or its simply being put in our yard. Wishful thinking. No takers. These kids today don’t need any money. Too affluent a neighborhood, I suppose.

I learned that the Woodlin PTA was instrumental in getting the first Wizard weather vane made by a local metal artist, David Hubbard. I visited David and lo and behold, he still had the original full-size drawing of our Wizard. Piece of cake!! I got ahold of some stainless steel sheet metal and started cutting and welding. Metalwork is one of my hobbies—go-carts and minibikes and such. When I installed this new Wizard on top of the school—completely ignoring what the school maintenance staff said to me about going up on the roof (it’s my nature)—where it now lives, I got advice from metalworkers on how to install it in such a way as to make it just about impossible to steal again. One-way screws and a detent in the shaft did the security trick. I may have to go back up there to remove it for the rebuild if the contractors and construction personnel can’t handle it. What a fine old Wizard we have. I hope the new school has a spot planned for it.

Beacon Editor’s note: Woodlin Elementary School’s PTA President reports that the school’s cupola (including the weather vane) is to be incorporated into a “learning lawn” that will face Luzerne Ave.

Presentation on Historic Homes in Lyttonsville and North Woodside

A historic home in North Woodside

Graduate students in the University of Maryland’s Historic Preservation program have spent the last semester researching the history of eleven houses in Lyttonsville and North Woodside (and one in Woodside).

You are cordially invited to attend the capstone presentation of this historic house and local community research project, which will take place on Wednesday, December 15th at 7 pm, at Woodlin Elementary School. The students will give brief presentations on the histories of each of the twelve houses in the larger context of the history of these communities, with an emphasis on the most useful historic resources for conducting house histories. This event is sponsored by the Talbot Avenue Bridge Committee.*

Location information:
Woodlin Elementary School (cafeteria/multi-purpose room)            
2101 Luzerne Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20910            
Note: Use entrance at left side of building (next to school parking lot)

IMPORTANT SAFETY NOTE: Masks will be required, as well as proof of COVID-19 vaccination (or a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours of the event).

Questions?  Contact the Talbot Avenue Bridge Committee

* This activity is not sponsored by, associated with, or endorsed by Montgomery County Public Schools or Montgomery County Government.

Historical Maps of North Woodside

North Woodside in 1929. Source of Map: Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.

Some links to a bunch of historical maps that show North Woodside in its younger days  (zoom in just above the northern tip of DC to where it says “Woodside”)

  • 1891 (year after our neighborhood was established)
  • 1893 (shows the neighborhood lies ~7.5 miles from White House)
  • 1917 (shows bridge that preceded the historic Talbot Avenue Bridge, built in 1918 and demolished in 2019) Note: if you live in one of the oldest houses in the neighborhood you should be able to find your house on this one.
  • 1918
  • 1924
  • 1929 (#1)
  • 1929 (#2) Note: many more neighbors should be able to find their houses on this one — particularly those living in bungalows and Sears Kit houses on Grace Church, Hanover, Glen Ross, Luzerne, and 2nd.

So interesting to imagine what this area looked like back then. Very little development and no Beltway yet!

Farewell Woodside Deli

The original Woodside Deli on Georgia Ave—a much-loved neighborhood institution for 72 years—closed suddenly in early October due to a disagreement with the landlord on renewing the lease. Many neighbors expressed shock and sadness over the closing on the neighborhood email list. A Woodside Deli memory from a long-time neighborhood resident:

When I lost to Doug Duncan in the 1994 Democratic primary for County Executive, he was nervous about who I might support in the November general election. The Republican nominee was a smart, popular elected official (in those times, the County GOP was a real player—we had Republican Councilmembers and our Congresswoman was Republican) and Doug ran poorly in this area of the County.

So after the primary election we met at the Woodside Deli to discuss specific issues we differed on, the coming campaign, and my potential endorsement. The Woodside was a popular spot for politicians and reporters alike and remained so to its very unfortunate demise. Just yesterday (October 10), I got an e-mail from a prominent reporter saying, “ Oh no, now where can we meet and talk over breakfast?”

I shall miss the Woodside mightily.

— Gus Bauman