Carderock Springs

mapThe Stone tract of which Carderock Springs is part was originally comprised of two primary tracts. One, that on which the house known as “Stoneyhurst” rests, was originally deeded to Samuel Brewer Magruder in the middle 1700’s. “Glenmore,” the home now occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Dunbar Stone, is situated on the portion of the tract (a 20-acre tract off Persimmon Tree Road) which was originally owned by Lilly Caltman Stone’s ancestors. The two parcels were consolidated when Lilly Stone married Frank Pelham Stone in the late 1800’s. Stoneyhurst, one of the oldest homes in the area, was built in 1767 by Samuel B. Magruder and was known as “Samuel’s Delight” in those early days. The home is located on the left side of Seven Locks Road just north of River Road. Glenmore pos-dates Stoneyhurst by almost a century, but is still nearly 100 years old. It was constructed in 1864.

Samuel Magruder was the great grandson of Alexander Magruder, who emigrated to Virginia from Scotland in 1651. This migration was not totally by choice, however. Alexander, an officer in the Army of King Charles II was sent to the colonies as a prisoner of war by the Cromwell government.

It is presumed that Samuel was the first to farm the ground which more or less continuously produced wheat, corn, and hay until 1918. While farming was one of the most significant uses of this land, it is certainly not the most interesting. The tract has a uniquely interesting and varied occupational history. In a sense, the ground literally lent itself to the prosperous history of the whole Potomac Valley. In 1832, Captain John Moore, grandfather of Lilly Stone, who owned the “Glenmore” portion of the tract, opened stone quarries to provide rock needed for the construction of the C & 0 Canal. Stone from these quarries was used extensively in building the canal, its bridges and locks. Captain John not only quarried the stone, he also contracted to build some of the locks and later ran a canal boat up the C & 0.

Early in the 1800’s, prior to the opening of the quarries, a Magruder named Patrick established a paper mill on “Samuel’s Delight.” While this paper mill burned to the ground in 1854, the foundation of the mill can still be seen on the tract of land near the entrance of Carderock Springs across River Road.

On the property is another spring with a still more interesting history, being known as Stillhouse Spring. This spring was exploited by one of the more secular owners who energized the spring by a fairly well known process. It must be remembered that a trip to the District Line was a major outing in those days. Back as far as Colonial days the springs on the property brought satisfaction to the thirsty traveller. The water was bottled at the springs and used by the famous Johns Cabin of Colonial days, from which the hostelry the stream of Cabin John was named.

It was the only hotel between Frederick and Washington in the River Road, which General Braddock and George Washington laid out when they marched to meet the French and Indians.

Well over a century later, in 1905, the water from Glenmore Springs was again put on sale to the public. A. Rhett Stuart. M.D., in a testimonial describing the spring water used these words: “I recommend the Sulphur Water most highly for Rheumatic and Blood Diseases. Also as an active stimulant to Liver and eliminant through Kidney. The table water is very light and much of it can be drank without causing any feeling of discomfort. It is pure and free from all poisonous organic matter or germs of any kind. It is valuable on account of its Laxative Salts.” In addition to the various endeavors involving spring water, quarried rock, and farming, the-ground is distinguished as being one of the highest points in the surrounding area. Before many cedar trees grew tall around Qlenmore, the vista from the front porch was quite spectacular. On a clear day one could readily see the construction going on at American University. A story has been passed down that the guns from the Battle of Bull Run could be heard at Glenmore.

(Notes from an interview with Edmund Bennett)

In preparing to develop the area, Bennett first laid out a set of objectives and then prepared a program whereby these could be achieved. He carried out a market study of housing in the County and of the families that occupy those homes. It included numbers of children, numbers of automobiles owned, and years of college of the residents.

For “North Carderock” he acquired the Stone property first and later bought the Hamilton tract. To round out this portion of the community, he acquired some small “outparcels.” The property for Carderock South was obtained from a group of professionals who owned the land. He arranged for a detailed topographic study with elevations taken at two-foot intervals. He had a party in the field marking on these contours the major hardwood trees of diameters twelve inches and larger. He la id out the streets to fit the terrain in order to minimize cut-and-fill operations. The County had certain requirements limiting grades to 10% and defining certain curve radii. These had to be taken into consideration in siting the streets.

The County’s zoning requirements of the time (1960) did not provide flexibility as to set-back. The lots of the time fell into a checkerboard pattern regardless of the terrain. There was little or no effort to start with the landscape as it was. Also at that time, the County required that each house have 75 feet of frontage on a road. Bennett was successful in introducing the cul-de-sac concept for non-dedicated street house locations,. This led to the use of private courts as we see in parts of Carderock. This permitted him to get away from the checkerboard patterns then extant. He was able to convince the County that an average lot size of twenty thousand square feet for the community would be satisfactory. This was achieved by having some lots less than the 20,000 square feet and some more, keeping in mind that the ten acres occupied by the Swim Club was to be included in calculating the average. He sited the houses related to the distribution of trees. He insisted on making the houses structures of the land rather than on it. He wanted to integrate the structure with the land and the trees rather than contouring the land to fit the house. This meant he had to have designs that would fit uphill, downhill, side-slope, and level areas. At the same time he had to insure that the elevation of the ground level of a house was above the sewer drains in the street. He marked the existing springs to insure drainage and to capture their beauty where appropriate.

He tested the architectural firm’s ingenuity in designing houses to meet his requirements. Houses should be contemporary, have large glassed areas, and so designed that there would be an integration of the indoors with the outdoors.

Glenmore Spring Road
Named after the old Lilly Stone homestead “Glenmore”, located at the end of Comanche Court. An old history of “Gienmore” said that horses stabied in downtown Washington were driven out Conduit Road, now named MacArthur Blvd, in late spring to feed on the abundant grasslands during the summer months.

Stone Trail Drive
Named after the dirt oxcart trail that connected the Stoneyhurst quarries to Conduit Road and was used to transport stone to the canal to build the “Seven Locks”, beginning in the early 19th century. Parts of the oxcart trail can still be seen halfway up the slope above the Carderock Club tennis courts and behind the houses on Stiil Spring Court.

Park Overlook Court
Chosen by the developer because of its proximity to Cabin John Park.

Cabin John Park
Named after relatives of the developer.

Barkwater Court
Unusual name not previously used in Montgomery County. The same is true of all the street names above. The county does not allow the use of duplicate names in new subdivisions.

Fenwav. Tomlinson
Previously named by adjoining owners or subdividers. No information on the derivation of these names.

Stonevhurst Quarries
Named after the founder, “Captain” John Stone, who had married a Magruder. These quarries were opened on both sides of River Road in the early 19th century.