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Hidden Gems in Montgomery County: A Giant Acorn, Fantasy Castle, and More!

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You can find hidden treasures littered throughout each town of every county, but sometimes it takes some insider information to uncover local secrets.  We’re here to help with a few of the hidden gems in Montgomery County, Maryland.  Just a short drive from Philadelphia or a Metro ride from Washington, DC, Montgomery County has several unique and historic landmarks that are worth the trip:

  • In downtown Silver Spring, you can behold the world’s largest acorn, where founder, Francis Preston Blair, Sr. commissioned the Acorn Gazebo circa 1850 to overlook his mica-fleck spring community.  Visitors can sit where Blair and his colleagues like Abraham Lincoln enjoyed the then pastoral view now named Acorn Park.
  • Looking for more than a giant acorn?  Head over to Glen Echo, home to the Baltzley “Fantasy” Castle, built by twin brothers Edward and Edwin Baltzley circa 1890.  The Castle offers panoramic views of the Potomac River.  The stone structure was designed by Philadelphian architect Theophilius Parsons Chandler Jr., also known for his work on the stone enclosures of the Philadelphia Zoo.
  • The C&O Canal Lockhouses offers its visitors the opportunity to stay overnight in a lockhouse and experience life as it may have been during a bygone era of the C&O Canal.  The canal was originally built to extend the Potomac River to the Ohio River up to Pittsburgh, but plans were abandoned.  Currently, six lockhouses have been rehabilitated and furnished to evoke different eras in the canal’s history.
  • Brookeville, Maryland’s Madison House served as the nation’s “Capital for a day” during the War of 1812, as President James Madison and his staff sought refuge following the British invasion and burning of Washington.  Although the Madison House is a private home today, you can see where it stands as it did years ago.  Brookeville will be holding a bicentennial commemoration over Labor Day weekend including several events on August 30th and 31st to celebrate its role in the war.
  • Boyds Negro School was the only public school made for African Americans who lived in the area from 1896 to 1936.   The school, a Maryland Historic Site, is currently open to the public on the last Sunday of every month or upon request.  Visitors can view the one room schoolhouse which once taught spelling, cooking, reading, singing and weaving.

To learn more about visiting these hidden gems of Montgomery County and uncovering others, please visit here.