Then and Now: Montgomery County History


Request one of the following Speakers Bureau topics through our online form!

Questions? Contact Matthew Gagle or call 301-340-2825. 

*New* Montgomery County and the War of 1812

Speaker: Sandra Heiler

The War of 1812 was one of the most contentious conflicts in American history, and Montgomery countians were nearly universally opposed to it. Nevertheless, although their properties were spared the war’s horrors, Montgomery’s citizens were not. A sense of honor and proximity to Washington and Baltimore led them to take an active part in a war they deplored. This talk describes the role Montgomery County residents played in the War of 1812, between its beginning in June 1812, and the Battle for Baltimore in September 1814. Despite the odds or their personal beliefs, they did their duty—and more.



*New* The Hero of Two Worlds: The Story of the Marquis de Lafayette and the 2024 – 2025 Bicentennial of his American Farewell Tour

Speaker: Patricia Maclay, MD

Lafayette’s Farewell Tour saw the last surviving major general of the American Revolution triumphantly return from his home country of France to the United States, the new nation he loved. From August 15, 1824 to September 9, 1825, Lafayette covered over 6,000 miles by carriage, stagecoach, canal barge, and steamboat, traveling to all 24 existing states and “Washington City.” Patricia Maclay will cover the details of Lafayette’s Farewell Tour of America, how it will be celebrated in 2024 – 2025, and how everyone will have the opportunity to get involved. Get ready to celebrate Lafayette, the Hero of Two Worlds.





Will Adams, Fiddler of Ken-Gar

Speaker: Julianne Mangin

Fiddler Will Adams had deep roots in the African American communities of Montgomery County from Sandy Spring to Norbeck to Ken-Gar. In 1953, he was recorded by folklorist Mike Seeger (half-brother of Pete Seeger) who grew up in Chevy Chase. Adams’ family history offers a glimpse of African American life in Montgomery County from the final years of slavery to the mid-twentieth century. Learn how the music of both Adams and Seeger lives on among contemporary old-time musicians.




Richard Montgomery: “A Grateful Remembrance”

Speaker: Robert Plumb

Richard Montgomery—who was this man whose name today identifies our county and 15 others in the United States? Join Robert Plumb as he presents the life of General Richard Montgomery, the first general officer killed in the Revolutionary War and what, if any, connections he has with Montgomery County, Maryland. Plumb will discuss Montgomery’s arrival in the American Colonies, his role in the American Revolution and the ill- fated American Northern Expedition into Canada. The speaker will also cover Montgomery’s relationship to slavery as practiced in 18th century New York.




*NEW* When the Stars Came to Gaithersburg: Remembering the Shady Grove Music Fair

Speaker: Ralph Buglass

For most of the 1960s and ’70s Gaithersburg was an entertainment mecca for the greater DC area. Shady Grove Music Fair—first under a big-top tent and then in a theater-in-the-round venue complete with a revolving stage—hosted Broadway hits and a wide variety of pop, rock and soul singers. Stars included Simon and Garfunkel, Bruce Springsteen, Aretha Franklin, Bette Midler, Duke Ellington and even the Jackson 5 for a full week with tickets starting at $4.75. After only 16 years, the curtain came down in 1978—but what a run!




The 1950s Housing Boom in Montgomery County 

Speaker: Robert Bachman

The 1950’s housing boom almost doubled the number of single-family homes in Montgomery County in one decade. This presentation will focus on the national-level & county-level factors that fueled the housing boom, the federal programs that helped builders & buyers, where the new homes were built in the county, the styles of these new homes, the developers who built them, the architects who designed them, and the role of the National-Capital Park & Planning Commission and the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission in preparing the infrastructure and establishing the procedures to respond to the rapid population growth and housing boom of the 1950’s.





Off-the-Beaten Path in Montgomery County

Speaker: Ralph Buglass

An illustrated presentation on the “Top 10”  lesser-known spots in Montgomery County with historical importance, amazing natural beauty, or superlative in some other way. Learn about some famous residents’ homes and houses designed by famous architects, spots with connections to events of national significance, oases of natural beauty, museums every bit as good as those on the Mall, still-standing relics of our past, and more. 




Marriotts and Motor Cars:  Made for Each Other

Speaker: Katie Dishman

A lecture and PowerPoint presentation focusing on a now a well-known hotel company, Marriott International, which actually started as an A&W Root Beer stand in Washington, D.C. in 1927.  Marriott’s corporate archivist will explore the history of the company and its integral connection with cars. Not only did the stands, named Hot Shoppes, expand because of their drive-ins, but the lodging business began as motor hotels at the advent of the Interstate Highway System.  Highlights from the history of the company and its growth, including its move to Bethesda in 1955, will be featured. 





BOOM!: How Montgomery County Developed in the 1950s

Speaker: Bob Bachman

A lecture and PowerPoint presentation summarizing the rapid development of lower Montgomery County in the 1950s as a suburb of Washington, DC.  The focus is on demographics, housing & subdivisions, shopping centers, schools, parks & recreation, & libraries.  This program was offered at the 2018 Montgomery County History Conference. 



Still Standing: One- and Two-Room Schoolhouses in Montgomery County and the Stories They Tell About the Early Days of Public Education

Speaker: Ralph Buglass

The one-room schoolhouse symbolizes the earliest days of public education. In Montgomery County a surprising number of one- and two-room schoolhouses still exist—in one form or another. With photos of them all, this presentation tells the early history of public education in the county, including the nearly century-long practice of school segregation dubbed “separate but equal” that was very unequal in practice. Can be combined with a visit to a restored one-room schoolhouse to experience what school was like more than 100 years ago.


Montgomery County’s Prehistory: A 12,000 Year Story

Speaker: Don Housley

After discussing the various theories for the peopling of North America, this PowerPoint presentation centers on describing the environment, social structure, and tool development of Montgomery County’s prehistory through the Paleo-Indian, Archaic, and Woodland time periods prior to European contact.


Archaeological Sites in Montgomery County, Maryland

Speaker: Don Housley

This PowerPoint presentation provides an introduction to both prehistoric and historical archaeological sites located on park land in Montgomery County and the techniques used by county archaeologists to unearth the past. A list of upcoming public archaeology programs and tours will be provided.