Montgomery County’s Historic Towns and Places


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

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


Down-County: Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Silver Spring, and Potomac


*NEW* Potomac’s Storied History

Speaker: Judith Welles

Produced in coordination with the release of her new book, POTOMAC, Judith Welles dives into never-before-seen photos–many from Montgomery History’s collection–that shed new light on the storied history of this area of the county. With the photographs as a backdrop, Welles tells the impact of the C&O Canal and the Civil War; the story of the Gold Rush and ghosts; the Potomac Hunt; the growth of a bustling commercial and residential area and much more.






*NEW* Aspin Hill Pet Cemetery: Montgomery County’s Famous Four-Legged Friends

Speaker: Julianne Mangin

Aspin Hill Pet Cemetery, established in 1920, is more than simply a place where people put their pets to rest.  It’s a place that reflects the life and times of the Washington region. There are famous pets, owned by or connected to movers and shakers of the twentieth century – presidents and their advisors, ambassadors, and a certain head of the FBI.  There are also thousands of pets and owners who may be less influential than a president or a senator, but whose stories are equally fascinating.  In this presentation, Julianne Mangin shares not only the history of the cemetery and those who ran it, but entertaining stories gleaned from newspapers, photographs, land records, and the inscriptions on the grave stones found at the cemetery.



*NEW* River Road, Bethesda: A Short History of Black and White, 1850-1963 

Speaker: Paige Whitley

The commercial section of River Road, Bethesda, sometimes called Westbard, was once home to a flourishing community of African Americans. This presentation outlines the history of this community and their white neighbors from before the Civil War to after Desegregation, and examines the networks of families, faith, education, and work that held the community together before intensified commercial development led to its eventual disbandment. Macedonia Baptist Church, on the corner of River Road and Clipper Lane, and the currently disputed Moses Cemetery are all that now remain of the original community.   



Cabin John: Legends and Life of an Uncommon Place

Speaker: Judith Welles

Judith (Judy) Welles offers a slide show about the mystery of the name Cabin John and legends of lost lovers, ghosts, pirates and buried treasure. Historic photos of the Union Arch Bridge and the Cabin John Hotel, a resort destination from 1870s to 1931 that attracted Washington socialites and U.S. Presidents. 






Offutt’s Crossroads: The Early History of Potomac and its Founding Family

Speaker: Ralph Buglass 

This talk and slide presentation covers the “first family” of Potomac: the Offutts for whom Potomac was originally named (Offutt’s Crossroads). The talk, by a descendant of the Offutt family, explores when and how the village came to be called Potomac, with feuding among the family, the end of slavery, a business partnership gone bad, and attempted murder all playing a part—not to mention a few ghostly appearances in later years!


The Ballad of Chevy Chase and How County Property Has Evolved Through the Years

Speaker: Donna Evers

A glimpse of how Montgomery County’s housing communities have evolved into the highly sought after neighborhoods they are today, with special attention to the ballad of Chevy Chase. This story details an ambitious plan to develop high-end real estate in the middle of nowhere; transforming a treeless pasture into the coveted suburb at the gateway to the nation’s capital. The program features photographs depicting the progression of housing stock over the years, to the homes that please the eye today. It lasts approximately 30 minutes.


Scandals and Mysteries of Chevy Chase

Speaker: William Offutt

Everything from where did the money come from to where did the castle go – a look at some events, both serious and otherwise.



Central County: Rockville and Gaithersburg


*NEW* Montgomery County’s Seat: An Illustrated History of Rockville

Speaker: Ralph Buglass 

Nearly 250 years ago a tiny crossroads community was picked as the government center of Montgomery County. Now one of the nation’s most diverse cities, Rockville exemplifies our county’s history in many ways—and has ties to significant national events and figures. The co-author of a newly published photographic history of Rockville will highlight its development through a wealth of vintage images.




F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Rockville: Rockville in the 1920s

Speaker: Eileen McGuckian

This slide presentation takes a look at the small town of Rockville that F. Scott Fitzgerald knew in the 1920s, with an explanation of how America’s favorite writer came to be buried there –twice! 






The History of Rockville Pike: A 300 Year Journey

Speaker: Eileen McGuckian

Using historic and contemporary photographs, local historian Eileen McGuckian takes a journey through time down the Rockville Pike, from its beginnings as a Native American path to its current status as Montgomery County’s “Golden Mile.”






Rockville, Maryland: 250 Years of History

Speaker: Eileen McGuckian

An armchair tour of historic Rockville — from colonial times to the present – with the author of Rockville: Portrait of a City, the definitive history of our county seat. Come with your questions! 




Rockville’s Victorian Heritage
Speaker: Judith Christensen


The History of Gaithersburg, Maryland
Speaker: Judith Christensen




Up-County and Outer-County Areas


Sugarloaf: The Singular History of a Singular Mountain 

Speaker: Ralph Buglass

Sugarloaf Mountain, a private oasis of natural beauty and scenic vistas that is open to the public, nearly became Camp David and was almost topped with a modernistic structure designed by one of America’s most famous architects, Frank Lloyd Wright, that instead ended up as a New York City landmark. This extensively illustrated talk explores these and other historical oddities of this tiny mountain that sits all by itself just over the Montgomery County line in Frederick County.




The Nuclear Age in Montgomery County: The Atomic Energy Commission and its Site at Germantown, Maryland 

Speaker: Eric W. Boyle

This PowerPoint slide lecture explores what life was like for persons living in Montgomery County during the 1950s. Eric W. Boyle, Chief Historian for the Department of Energy, will discuss the Atomic Energy Commission’s move to upper Montgomery County during the early days of the Cold War. After considering over 50 locations, farmland near Germantown, Maryland, was determined to be a distance far enough from Washington D.C. to survive a nuclear blast on the Nation’s Capital from the Soviet Union. Thus, the headquarters for the Atomic Energy Commission was built in Germantown, Maryland, in 1957. Today, the site is one of two administrative complexes of the US Department of Energy in the DC area. In this talk, Boyle will share archival research and new insight on the detailed criteria used to determine the Germantown headquarters’ location.




Grand Old Ditch: C&O Canal Past, Present, and Future

Speaker: Judith Welles

Judith (Judy) Welles, a local history author and C&O Canal volunteer, provides historic highlights and photographs of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, including the canal’s role in the Civil War, historic structures, and unique engineering marvels in the mid-19th Century.  The presentation also describes current-day challenges facing the C&O Canal National Historical Park and volunteer opportunities.  



Laytonsville: From Crossroads to Community

Speakers: Jane Griffith Evans and Anne Burke Wolf

Located in northeastern Montgomery County, Laytonsville evolved from a Native American trail to a market crossroads known as “Cracklintown” and to the vibrant community it is today. Reflect back on 200 years with the stories of women and men who drew on their strengths and skills to build this town and the wider community. This local history is filled with universal themes. This is a lecture and PowerPoint slide presentation based on the speakers’ book by the same title. The speakers’ book may be offered for sale and signing, as appropriate.


A History of Maryland Through its Gardens 

Speaker: Barbara Glickman

The history and horticultural highlights of approximately 11 gardens and their homes and owners are covered in some detail, and the sites are: Historic St. Mary’s City, Historic London Town and Gardens, Sotterley Plantation, Mount Harmon Plantation, Hampton National Historic Site, William Paca House and Garden, Montpelier Mansion; Riversdale House Museum, Glenview Mansion, Evergreen Museum & Library, and Cylburn Arboretum. Other sites include: Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center, Baltimore Museum of Art Sculpture Garden, Wye Island Natural Resources Management Area,  Cranesville Swamp,  Brookside Gardens, Ladew Topiary Gardens, Antietam National Battlefield, and Monocacy National Battlefield. The presentation is about 50 minutes in length and includes approximately 90 slides that show the diversity of the gardens and parks, and accompany the historical narratives.


Capital Splendor: Gardens and Parks of Washington DC

Speaker: Barbara Glickman

This PowerPoint lecture and slide presentation includes about 80 photographs, and provides a framework of different landscape garden design styles for viewing these features at approximately 9 of the 32 gardens in the speaker’s 2012 book by the same name. These landscape design types include Italian, French, Italian, colonial, and topiary. In addition, the talk covers the highlights of those gardens and provides historical information of the gardens, houses, and landscape architects. Due to their historical significance and diverse nature, the following gardens are included in some detail in the presentation: George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate, Museum, & Gardens; River Farm; Meridian Hill Park; Tudor Place; Hillwood Estate, Museum, and Gardens; Dumbarton Oaks; Tregaron Conservancy; Ladew Topiary Gardens; and the US Botanic Garden. The PowerPoint includes photos of other gardens and parks that highlight the region’s diversity, such as Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Huntley Meadows, Meadowlark Gardens, and McKee Beshers Wildlife Management Area. The speaker’s book may be offered for sale and signing, as appropriate.