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:

Letter from the President

Genevieve McDowell Owen

By Genevieve McDowell Owen, NWCA President

Personally, I’m not a fan of change. Snider’s, under the new ownership, still feels a bit weird to me every time I go in; I miss our neighborhood Staples even though Aldi replaced it some time ago; and I’m still adjusting, almost eight months later, to being an empty nester. Plus I can’t quite believe houses in North Woodside are now selling for a million dollars, some for over a million dollars. Maybe your house is worth that already. Wow. Can I mention that my husband and I bought our house in 2000 for $217,500? I don’t think our modest bungalow is worth $1,000,000 quite yet, but it’s now worth so much more now than I ever imagined it would be.

So change has already come to North Woodside. We are at the center (okay, technically bottom center) of a growing, affluent county bursting with new folks bringing innovation and eagerness to succeed right to our doorstep. But this boon is creating a big problem — lack of housing. It is one of the reasons our houses have increased so rapidly in value. Everyone wants to live in North Woodside. (And why wouldn’t they? It’s lovely, and close to shopping, good schools, and transportation.)

According to a recent Washington Post article, “(t)he supply shortage has grown so severe across the D.C. area that, in 2019, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments issued a sweeping call for local leaders to aggressively ramp up housing production. The association advised governments to approve a total of 320,000 homes by 2030, with a focus on affordably priced housing near jobs and transit.”

So Montgomery County has decided to embrace this population growth — it’s already proved to be a boon to our area, economically and culturally — and even plan for it. Because without a plan growth can cause problems, of course. It can strain services, increase commute times, worsen environmental conditions, and exacerbate inequality.

The plan, created by our Montgomery County Planning Board, is called Thrive Montgomery 2050 (Thrive). Maybe you’ve heard of it? It’s a 30-year blueprint for population growth in our county that also addresses environmental and climate concerns, transportation, open-land preservation, quality-of-life issues like walkability and public art, and the pressing need for racial equity and social justice. If you’re not familiar with it, check out the Thrive section on the montgomeryplanning.org website.

I was delighted to be part of the team of NWCA Board members that brought together lots of folks with different perspectives to discuss the housing and zoning aspects of Thrive, and what changes it might bring to our corner of the county, at a neighborhood forum back in March. After planners from the Planning Board presented a quick outline of Thrive, North Woodside residents asked excellent questions of the six panel members representing all sides of the issue.

I was even more delighted that the neighborhood survey on Thrive, sponsored by the NWCA Board, garnered a record-breaking response, with 111 neighbors representing 99 households participating (a nearly 40% increase in individual participation — and at least 25% by household — compared to the last survey we conducted in Fall 2019). The results of the survey, which are available on our website, showed that a majority of the neighbors who took the survey support the way the county proposes to plan for the future.

Thrive Montgomery 2050 is still under review, and won’t be voted on by the County Council for a few more months (so there’s still time to make your voice heard!), but even before a plan is put in place, I’m grateful to live in a county that is committed to creating a green, just, and inclusive way to deal with a future of growth and change. It makes thinking about the coming changes easier for me, including the addition of much-needed housing to our area. I hope it does for you, too.

The above letter ran in the Spring 2022 issue of the Beacon.

Neighbors Create Mosaic Path

Under the inspired leadership of Bertie LoPiccolo, neighbors and friends gathered on an unseasonably beautiful President’s Day to help Julie Savage and Keith Carlson lay a mosaic path leading to their newly built backyard ADU (accessory dwelling unit).

“I dreamed of building a healing, welcoming ADU space for my small therapy practice and imagined a whimsical, joyful path leading up to it — a piece of community artwork that would bring people together. Bertie caught the vision and made it happen, with the added expertise of Suz Podrasky and many first-time mosaic artists.

Close up of a mosaic flower

In the days leading up to pouring the concrete, I gathered small mosaic creations from anyone who had any inclination to contribute. (Thank you to so many in the neighborhood!) The finished path is a magical collection of birds, bugs, trees, words, a cicada, rainbow, sun, moon, small house, and so much more.

Feel free to come to 1914 Grace Church Rd. and check it out anytime. In challenging times, I hope it will be a reminder of all the good that is possible when we come together in new and beautiful ways.”

— Julie Savage

The finished mosaic path!

Chalk Art Festival Gallery

Behold some of the artistic “submissions” to the first North Woodside Chalk Art Festival…

A walking tour of Chalk Art Festival on Luzerne Ave. Video by David Finkel.

And a gallery of photos from around the neighborhood:

“Happy Summer” on Elkhart St; Big Foot footprints on Grace Church Rd; Butterflies on Luzerne Ave; and a shark on Luzerne Ave.

Street Tree Report (Summer 2022)

Closeup of a Yellowwood tree, blooming for the first time this year, on Elkhart St.

The county arborist has inspected our street tree requests. We will receive 31 new street trees sometime between late fall of this year and spring of 2023. Thirteen of those will be shade trees. You’ll see pink splashes painted on curbs around the neighborhood where the trees will go.

Most species requested were natives. This means we will increase the number of host plants for certain native moths and butterflies, and provide a more welcoming environment for our native birds, who eat the caterpillars of those moths and butterflies, as well as the nuts, nutlets, catkins, seeds, berries, and drupes that the trees provide. The native species will be planted by Casey Trees in conjunction with the county using a grant from the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection’s Water Quality Protection Fund, administered through the Chesapeake Bay Trust. The non-natives will be funded and planted in the usual manner by the Montgomery County Department of Transportation tree division.

Most people get their first choice of species. First choices for shade trees this year included blackgums, American elm, a couple of kinds of oaks, American linden (basswood), Lacebark elm, and an American sycamore. First choices for minor trees included crabapples, sweetbay magnolias, redbuds, chokecherries, hophornbeams, a serviceberry, and one or two ornamental (Japanese) cherries.

The county will give us one ornamental native shade tree in the pocket park at Lanier Dr and 3rd Ave, five feet behind the Lanier Dr guardrail. As this is not a priority location, they will use a tree freed up by cancellations, but have tentatively scheduled a blackgum. If that isn’t available, they will pick a native with either flowers or attractive fall foliage. This plan was approved by the neighborhood Community Design committee.

Casey Trees has not yet removed the stakes and straps on the trees they planted in spring 2021 for reasons related to the pilot nature of the project that year. However they will remove them when they take the stakes and straps for trees they planted this past spring.

Finally, some of our Yellowwood street trees bloomed for this first time this year. This is a relatively rare tree and I had never seen it in its full glory. The photo above is a closeup of one on Elkhart St.

— Phyllida Paterson, Tree Committee

Chalk Art Festival Commences!

A young artist on Luzerne Ave perfects a drawing of a shark on the first day of the North Woodside Chalk Art Festival.

Today is the first day of the North Woodside Chalk Art Festival!

What will we see on the sidewalks as we wander the neighborhood?  

The weather is perfect and all you need is chalk and inspiration! 

Join in and share your work via our neighborhood listserv or Facebook page! We’ll also be posting a gallery of photos here later this week.

Support Neighbors’ Businesses!

Carrie Carter (Kansai Treasures) works on a unique piece of jewelry.

North Woodside’s new webpage profiling neighbors’ businesses is now live!

Need the inside or outside of your house repainted? Got a chair that needs re-upholstering? Desiring some custom-made cabinets? Interested in taking cello lessons or an art class? In need of assistance resolving a conflict? Looking for a unique handmade piece of jewelry or hat?   There are neighbors who offer all these services/products and more!

North Woodside Weather Station

Thanks to Bill and Shanna on 3rd Ave, North Woodside now has a weather station which tracks temperature, wind, rainfall, pressure, humidity and more! It reports the data to a website anyone can access. Want to know exactly how much rain a recent thunderstorm unleashed? What the highest or lowest temperature of the day was? How strong the wind outside is? Check it out!

North Woodside Chalk Art Festival

I walk through North Woodside pretty much every day with my dog Charlie and one of the great joys I get is admiring the local hieroglyphics we find on our walks etched on our sidewalks in chalk.

Sometimes they are rainbows.  Other times airplanes and dinosaurs.  And yet others, they are shiny happy stick people.   But the art is always wonderful and joyous!

I’d like to encourage a celebration of local creativity in the neighborhood as we kick off the first official week of summer and challenge folks young and old to break out the chalk and draw on the sidewalk the week of June 20.   It can be silly or monumental.  The artists can be adults or kids (or adult children).   What is important is to share some color and art with other folks in the neighborhood!

Then I’d like folks to take pictures of their chalk and share them – we can post to the NWCA Facebook site or Listserv.

Who’s in?   Let’s get ready to draw!

— Mike Wassenaar (Grace Church Rd.)

Update: Check out the gallery of Chalk Art Festival photos!