Garrett Park Historic District
Garrett Park, Montgomery County
The Garrett Park Historic District is a 154-acre residential community incorporated in 1891 along the B & O Railroad. The town is a residential district apart for a combination post office and store, which has been serving that function since the 19th century, and the town hall originally constructed as an Episcopal Church. Two parks, three tennis courts, a basketball court, baseball field, and swimming pool represent the land put to recreational use. Designed as a residential community, the district contains approximately 340 structures, roughly 40 of which predate World War I. The majority of these are a vernacular interpretation of the Queen Anne style, set back from the sidewalk. These frame two-story houses are characterized by asymmetrical elevations, corner porches, cross-gable roofs, three-story towers, and large lot sizes. The next stage of development occurred in the 1920s with the "Chevy" houses built by Maddux, Marshall & Co. This development company constructed roughly 40 houses, set closer to the street, each of which contained a Murphy bed, an Atwater-Kent radio, and, at an extra cost, a Chevrolet in the garage. These small houses (640 feet of floor space) came in three different models: The Sylvan, the Roseland, and the Woodbine. The differences in floor plan and porch design gave a degree of individuality to the one-story frame, three-bay houses. An interpretation of the Prairie Style initiated most prominently by Frank Lloyd Wright is found in Post-World War II houses in Garrett Park. These one-story buildings, designed and built in the 1950s by Alexander Richter, have low overhanging roofs, an open plan with many intersecting spaces, different heights of elements, and projecting and receding surfaces, all of which tend to make their solid volumes exclusive. The district also includes examples of the International Style, Tudor Revival Style, and Sears and Roebuck Mail-order homes, as well as Neo-Colonial or Williamsburg Revival-style "Cape Cod" homes of the 20th century.
Garrett Park embodies an American living pattern that revolutionized our use of land. The rapid transportation made available by the railroads caused profound cultural changes. The accessibility to commuter rail service enabled urban workers to live in what they felt was a rural environment. Astute businessmen capitalized on this attitude combined with the transportation revolution to create new towns far beyond the city limits. These suburbs, like Garrett Park, were virtually totally residential with the exception of a depot and perhaps one store. Commercial districts which previously had been an essential part of every community were not necessary especially with the added mobility provided by the automobile. This phenomenon which so profoundly altered the American culture is, perhaps, difficult to appreciate since it remains so much a part of our contemporary world. However, it is important to recognize places like Garrett Park as a manifestation of that phenomenon.