Projects Update

The Germantown Historical Society Capital Campaign                   On July 23, 2015 the Germantown Historical Society acquired the Historic Germantown Bank Building from Montgomery County for $1. The building, built in 1922, is located across from the Germantown MARC train Station. The foundation and interior of the building have been damaged by water run-off from the County commuter parking lot surrounding the building, which has been a problem for several years. The GHS is now embarking on a Capital Campaign to raise the $225,000 needed to protect the building’s foundation from further damage and repair the damage to the building that has already been done. Outside, the sidewalks and ground at the rear and sides of the building need to be dug up and drainage systems installed. Inside, some of the support beams, about half of the floor, and some of the plaster wall covering need to be replaced. The newly refurbished building will house a museum, a meeting place, and our office. The museum will focus on the “History of Germantown” and “Banking in the 1930s during the Great Depression.” The interior of the bank contains a walk-in vault and a row of old safe deposit boxes. The GHS also has much of the correspondence of the Bank from the 1930s. The museum will be a wonderful teaching tool to demonstrate how a bank works, how money is invested, and how the banking institutions of the early 20th century are different from those today. This little community bank, the smallest type of bank building with its own walk-in vault, never closed during those lean years. We guess it was just “Too Small To Fail.”                 Thank you so much for any contribution you can make to our Capital Campaign. The Germantown Historical Society is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization and any contribution is tax deductible. In addition, we are an all-volunteer organization, so your contribution will be used entirely for our Building Repair Fund. You can e-mail us at:, or leave a message at 301-972-2707301-972-2707

Save the Cider Barrel

The Cider Barrel has long been an icon for Germantown. It was built in the 1920s to sell apple cider from the Ballincar Orchard in Germanown and took advantage the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, prohibiting the sale of alcohol by advertising its cider as being “clear and sweet.” People came from as far away as Washington to buy this cider. As an example of roadside novelty architecture there is not anything like it anywhere. It was made a County historic site in 1989. For more information on the history of the Cider Barrel see the Newsletter.

In the revision of the Germantown Master Plan currently being considered the Montgomery County Planning Board is recommending that the Cider Barrel be moved from its present location to the Town Center. We feel that this would destroy any historical significance that the building has as at another location it could be a symbol of anything — even a beer barrel advertising the annual Okterberfest–instead of the prohibition symbol it was built to be.

To support the efforts to Keep the Historic Cider Barrel in its historic location please write a letter to the Park and Planning Commission.

Send letters to:


Montgomery County Planning Board

8787 Georgia Ave.

Silver Spring, MD 20910

Dear Chairman,

Please change the Planning Board’s Germantown Masterplan revision to indicate that the historic Cider Barrel cannot be moved, even if there is not a business operating in it.

To move this icon of Germantown to any other location would destroy its historical significance.

To keep it where is was built is very important to the citizens of Germantown as it is an important symbol and landmark of our community.

Oral History Projects

The Germantown Historical Society is conducting an oral histories of local residents on an on-going basis. The oral histories will be transcribed and will include photographs and biographies of those interviewed. The interviews will be done by non-professionals who will be trained by professional interviewers. Copies of the finished product will be given to the Germantown Library, the Montgomery County Historical Society, and local schools.

If you know of someone we should interview, or are interested in becoming a part of this project please call 301-972-2707301-972-2707 and leave your name and phone number (and e-mail). 

The Black Rock Log House on Black Rock Road is on the Locational Atlas (see “Historic Preservation Process” following) and needs to be placed on the Montgomery County Master Plan for Historic Preservation. It is currently owned by Clear Channel Communications as part of a larger property that contains radio towers. There is a person who would like to have this log house to fix up and live in. If we can place the house on the Master Plan perhaps the owner will then want to donate the property to a non-profit organization, like Montgomery Preservation or the GHS, instead of restoring the house themselves.

The GHS is working on an a Maryland Historical Trust application that will enable the property to be considered for placement on the Master Plan.The property was part of the estate that also included Black Rock Mill, until the early 20th century. The log house was probably built between 1880 and 1895, either by Nicholas Offutt Sr. or his son Nicholas with logs sawn at the Black Rock Mill.It is one of the few two-story log houses remaining in Montgomery County on the original site.

It is a wonderful example, readily visible from the road, of the use of logs sawn at the nearby Black Rock Mill which has been partially restored and signed by Montgomery County for the interpretation of historic mills.

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