9 Froude CircleThis little house, made of corrugated cardboard, is a miniature version (probably to scale) of the maker’s home in Cabin John Gardens.  It (the model) was built around 1947 by Robert Moeller, a mechanical engineer at the David Taylor Model Basin, now part of the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division, off MacArthur Boulevard in Cabin John. 

Both Cabin John Gardens and the nearby Carver Road development were built during World War II as “temporary” housing for employees of the Model Basin.  Cabin John Gardens was built on the site of the old Cabin John Hotel (which had burned down in the 1930s), and consisted of 100 small, one-story houses.  Another 20 houses were built some distance away for African American employees; this neighborhood is called Carver Road.  Both neighborhoods still exist, despite the supposed temporary nature of the homes.  The Gardens is now a co-op, as the residents banded together to buy the land in the late 1950s when the government planned to raze the site.  Many of the homes in the Gardens have been remodeled and enlarged over the decades, but the bones of the little 1940s wartime houses are still there. 

Mr. Moeller constructed this little model of his home, 9 Froude Circle, for his own entertainment.  The highest part of the roof reaches 7 3/4″ high, and the footprint is about 15″ by 13″.  The roof lifts off to reveal the floor plan of the house, complete with built-in fixtures in the kitchen; removable furniture, also made of cardboard, can be placed inside.  The only part Mr. Moeller didn’t make is the little bottle-brush Christmas tree. 


Full disclosure from your curator/blogger: my father’s family also lived in a Cabin John Gardens home on Froude Circle, although a little later (and their house was of slightly different design).  This is part of the reason for my personal affection for Mr. Moeller’s little model house.   But how can anyone not love it?  It’s a tiny version of his house!  With a cardboard stove!  If you would like to see 9 Froude Circle in (miniature) person, it will be included in our upcoming [now current] exhibit “The Surburban Ideal: Domestic Architecture in Montgomery County” at the Waters House History Center, Germantown [on display through June 26th, 2010].