Lot and Block Number:
Block 97; Lot 1
Historic Designation: This building has been identified as an outstanding property within
Park Historic District, a small section of the Town that was
designated by Montgomery County and placed on the County Historic Preservation
Master Plan in 1992. The entire town of Garrett Park was listed on the National Register of Historic Places
Date of Construction: The original building on this property was erected sometime between
August 1877 and September 1888. The second very similar building was probably
erected sometime between 1892 and 1894.
Major Alterations: The building has undergone a series of changes over its lifetime.
Photographs from 1890, show a building very much like the one that exists
today. There are, however, differences in the roof line and pattern of slate
shingles, the placement of windows, and treatment of the porch columns, that provide
evidence that the building may have been entirely rebuilt. There is an
undocumented statement that the building burned in its early days and was
rebuilt on the original foundations. Such an event could certainly account for
the differences seen in the photographs.
A number or changes occurred in the building after
World War II. The building was covered with aluminum siding. The front porch
serving the store was removed and replaced with a concrete slab. The side porch
was reoriented and entered from the west side. In 1955 a rear two-story cinder
block addition was built. There were shops on the first level and a new post
office space on the floor above. The architect was Frank G. Beatty, the builder
was George T. Stang. In 1959 a third story was added to the addition to serve
as bedrooms for roomers. At the same time, the side porch was enclosed as part
of a new shop space. A long sloping roof section was built above it, covering
the original second floor windows. A pent roof was built across the front of
the store section. First floor fenestration was changed: two multi-paned bay
windows flanked the two entrance doors. Mrs. Penn converted the second floor
and attic to her living quarters. The building took on a vaguely colonial
appearance which it kept for over 40 years. The architect for these changes was
Fred Miller and the contractor was George M. Parker. In 1978, after the Town of
Garrett Park acquired the building, a steep-roofed stairway addition was built
on the railroad track side to give access to the second floor which had been
converted to office space. The addition was extended in 1980 to give access to
the side door of the post office. The interior access from the store to the
post office was then closed. David Almy was the architect for these later
In 2002 the building underwent extensive renovation.
All of the additions were removed. The aluminum siding was removed to expose
the original German siding and fish scale singles in the gables. The original
building was restored to its c.1894 appearance. The porches were rebuilt and
fenestration returned to its original configuration. A new addition was built
on the rear with a cross gable echoing that of the original building. A hyphen
with large expanses of glass joins the two. Greg Wiedemann was the architect
for the restoration and new addition.
Original and Subsequent Owners:
1886 Henry L. and Margaret J. Cranford sold a large tract of land to the
Metropolitan Investment and Building Company(MIBC) for about $20,000.
1892 MIBC sold the property to Florida H. Hurdle
1894 Florida Hurdle to George W. Offutt
1894 George W. and Gertrude V. Offutt to Rudolph I. Heley. Heley
mortgages the property several times until it is finally foreclosed by Frank D.
Leizear and sold at public auction.
1912 Robert B. Peter, attorney for Frank D. Leizear to Mary Heley.
1914 Mary Heley, widow, to Samuel Farber
1920 Samuel and Annie Farber to William Maynard Penn
1976 Charles M. Penn, executor for the estate of Lina Penn, to the Town
of Garrett Park. Purchase price $141,680.
Architect/Builder: Probably built by the crew of MIBC
Architectural Style and Building Type: Combination general store, storekeeper's residence,
and public hall.
Architectural Description: This was originally a two-story frame ell-shaped
structure on a sloping site with three full stories exposed in the rear. It was
covered with German siding and had a patterned slate roof. The eastern half of
the building contained a general story with a large open hall above it. A
stairway to the hall went up the inside of the building along the east wall.
Beneath the store was a large open storage cellar. The western half of the
building was the residence of the shop-keeper. There were two front porches,
one leading to the store and the other serving the residential side of the
building. There was an entrance door from the side porch leading to a narrow
stair hall. On the right were a parlor and a dining room. Above them were two
bedrooms and a bath. The kitchen was in the basement. It served the dining room
by means of a dumb waiter. The dumbwaiter cabinet is still in the former dining
room. After renovation, the first floor is now the post office and community
bulletin board. On the next floor is a restaurant in the original building. The
restaurant kitchen, public restrooms, and a small gallery space are in the
addition. The top floor of both the original building and addition contains
office space. The Town Offices are located here along with several rented
office spaces. The attic is used only for heating and ventilation equipment.
of Note: This is the only commercially
zoned building in Garrett Park. It was one of the first buildings erected in
the new town. It served as a general store until the 1980s. Since then, it has
been a restaurant. Especially in its early years, the store was vital to the
Town, but because its clientele was so small, store keepers had trouble making
a living, and the store changed hands many times. The building was purchased by
the Penn Family in 1920. The post office was moved into the store in about 1930
when Lina Penn became Postmaster. The combination store and post office became
the hub of the community under the Penn's stable ownership. The Town bulletin
board was set up there and an informal lending library, that eventually became
the Garrett Park Library, was started there. In 1955, the Post Office
Department tried to consolidate the Garrett Park and Kensington Post Offices
and offer home delivery out of the Kensington Office. Garrett Parkers declared
that they liked the cracker barrel atmosphere of their post office, and
preferred picking up their mail, meeting neighbors, and sharing gossip to the
convenience of home delivery. (
The Evening Star, 10/19/1955 and
10/27/1955.) Through petitions, meetings, and publicity, the post office was
Until the 1950s, the western half of the building was
the residence of Mrs. Penn. After the death of her husband, she made plans to
increase the commercial space in the building. She converted the entire first floor
to commercial space and added three stories to the back of the building for
commercial space and an expanded post office. Mrs. Penn converted the second
floor and attic of the original building for her residence.
Mrs. Penn retired in 1960 after 30 years as Post
Master and was followed by another Garrett Park Resident, Olive Parsons (4517
Clermont Place) who served for 25 years. When Mrs. Penn died, the fate of the
building was uncertain. After a referendum, the Town decided to purchase the
building in 1976 to insure a place for the post office and named it Penn Place
in honor of Mrs. Penn's long service. A new stairway addition was built to
provide easier access to the upstairs offices. Rents from retail and office
space were supposed to cover the maintenance of the building. When the
temporary closing of the store in 1981 eliminated interior access to the Post
Office, a second addition was built joining the stairway to the side entrance
of the Post Office and the interior access was walled off. In 1981 the Town
offices were moved to the second floor of the building. In 1982, the general
store room began a gradual transition from a store with deli counter to a full
service restaurant under the management of several Garrett Park women. In 1990,
under local chef Lynn Foster (10808 Keswick St.), The Town Store and Cafe began a 10-year period of service as a local eating and gathering spot.
In 1998, the Town began considering long-term
maintenance issues and handicap accessibility to the building. After a public
charrette to gather citizen input, many public meetings, a referendum, and
successful applications for grants and bond bills, the Town began a thorough
renovation of Penn Place in 2002. The front of the building was returned to its
late Victorian appearance. The most significant change to the original
structure was the removal of the original residential stairway to provide
circulation space through the center of the building. The old cinder block
addition was removed, and a new visually compatible addition was built on the
rear. The Post Office moved to the lower floor and the main floor became the
Black Market Bistro (owned by former Garrett Park residents Jeff and
Barbara Black (10935 Montrose Avenue) and public restrooms. The upper floor
contains offices, including those of the Town of Garrett Park.
Over the years, Penn Place has been the scene of
local public gatherings. The annual Fourth of July parade ends there, and the
adjacent basketball court and park has been the site of concerts, Halloween
festivities, and anniversary celebrations. Penn Place is truly the heart of the
Garrett Park community.
Other Photographs: (Historic and Recent)
View of 1959 changes to front of building. Right: View of 1955 cinder block rear
addition; the top floor was added in 1959.)
and Block Index Cards provide information on chain of title, building and
alteration dates. Most of the material in this entry is condensed from the
Place Historic Structures Report, 1998, prepared by Nancy Schwartz.
Unless otherwise specified, sources can be found in the Garrett Park Town