Monthly Archives: December 2012

Greenwood – The House Behind the Cover

IN SEARCH OF MARYLAND-fcvr-front onlyYou may have been wondering what haunted setting illustrates the cover of In Search of Maryland Ghosts: Montgomery County. It is Greenwood, one of the most haunted houses in Montgomery County. The original photo (shown below) is one of several from the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS). HABS and its companion programs, the Historic American Engineering Record and the Historic American Landscapes Survey, are still operated by the National Park Service. These were make-work programs created by the Works Projects [Progress] Administration (WPA) for architects, draftsmen, and photographers who were out of work because of the Great Depression. It was one of those wonderful, invaluable things that can come out of great turmoil. Historians will forever be grateful to the Roosevelt Administration for creating the program that produced such a treasure-trove of  material. We used many photographs from HABS in ISOMG:MC (all of which are available on LOC-kitchen wing_croppedthe Library of Congress website and are in the public domain).

The  images we used were created by John O. Brostrup in 1936 as he toured the county, presumably photographing places that were both historic (unfortunately that meant not Rossdhu Castle and other properties of the 1920s) and of interest to him. In a very few cases, we even are able to see the interiors, though not for Greenwood, the subject of today’s post. (I wish I could say more about John Bostrup, but the internet has failed me in this regard.)

Back to Greenwood. There are at least eight spectral entities that have been identified haunting Greenwood. The first, it’s best known owner, was Allen Bowie Davis, followed by his daughter, Rebecca Davis, and then Wilbur Nash, the owner of the house following the Davis family. I believe the wraith looking out the second floor window is supposed to be Rebecca Davis, whose photograph is in the book. Greenwood is also home to a ghost dog, Davis’ beloved Newfoundland, who met a grisly end, and a hapless chicken that accidentally was locked in the house and died. And it is home to the spirits of at least two enslaved men who supposedly died in the shackles in the basement prison.

The final ghost (if indeed that is truly the case) is Charlotte, an enslaved dairymaid/farm worker whose story is truly pitiable. When the Maryland Legislature voted to end slavery in Maryland on November 1, 1864, Davis took the news with aplomb. Perhaps he had been expecting such an event, but in any case, he reported the circumstances to his slaves (Davis was one of the largest slave owners in Montgomery County) and cautioned them regarding their future. Charlotte, overcome with the news, had a massive stroke and died the next day. To be able to see freedom coming and not be able to experience it must have been too much for her. Even as her body died, her spirit remained and, as far as I know, still haunts Greenwood today.

Here are the other two images of Greenwood from the HABS collection at the Library of Congress.
Greenwood_loc1_croppedLOC-southwest front

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Bernie and the Poolesville Public Golf Course

Bernie's Club-front view

Bernie'sClub-side viewBecause of yesterday’s beautiful weather – golfing weather – I thought I would post a little about Bernie Siegel and what is now the Poolesville Public Golf Course.

Bernie made his money working for Food Fair Grocery, and later Grand Union (how many of you remember that). After he retired he decided he wanted to build a housing development. Bernie loved golf, so in the old tradition of building the attraction and they will come, he bought a large tract of land in Poolesville and named it Norbern. His new golf course, River Road Country Club, was the centerpiece. Montgomery County has a number of communities that started in such a way – Glen Echo started as a chautauqua and became an amusement park. Chevy Chase and Bethesda also had amusement parks. Some country club communities include Indian Springs, Avenel, and Argyle. Unfortunately, it didn’t work for Bernie. He ended up with a lovely golf course in his backyard, but no houses. His own, which became the clubhouse, may originally have been a log cabin on the property that he enlarge.

By 1966, Bernie’s health was deteriorating and his development had not succeeded. Most likely despondent over the state of things, Bernie took his own life. Shortly after, strange things started happening at the clubhouse and on the grounds (too many to list in this short blog). Today, the golf course has been taken over by Montgomery County, but that doesn’t mean the sightings have stopped. Just ask anyone at the pro shop – they have a few stories to tell!

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