The name Dorothy Douden is written on the cover - I haven't identified her yet, sadly.

This week’s post comes to you from the Wonderfully Unexpected Items in the Archives department: a piece of sheet music that extolls the virtues of Bradley Hills, a community in Bethesda. “In the Land Where the Sun Never Sets, Dedicated to Bradley Hills” (words, music and publication by C.W. Long, Washington DC) was published in 1913. An advertisement on the back cover explains the song’s dedication, as publication was apparently paid for by “The Real Estate Trust Company of Washington, D.C. . . . Exclusive agents for Washington’s most beautiful suburb, ‘BRADLEY HILLS.’” It would seem that Bradley Hills is filled with fragrant flowers, babbling brooks, health, happiness, and eternal sunshine – and all within commuting distance of your government job!

I wondered if this was a song written for real estate agents or developers who could then stick the name of their current project on the cover, since it is so very unspecific.  But so far, I haven’t found any evidence of other copies of the song – extolling the virtues of some community in Connecticut or New York, say – and C.W. Long is also a no-show. In his book on Bethesda’s history, Bill Offutt speculates that Mr. Long was a relative of J. Walter Long, who in 1913 was Secretary of the Real Estate Trust Company.

Bradley Hills was developed in the years prior to World War I by a number of investors, who in 1913 formed the Real Estate Trust Company. The Washington & Great Falls electric trolley provided easy transportation to and from the suburb, and a country club was planned as another inducement to move to this fashionable new community. Who knows if this song was particularly effective as an advertising campaign; the lyrics are a little too effusive, perhaps (besides making it sound like it’s in Finland; Bethesda is a nice place, but I imagine that even in 1913 the sun did in fact set in the evening). Surely even the most ardent fan of early 20th century suburbia did not believe that you’d never get sick if only you lived in a brand-new home off Old Georgetown Road. Wouldn’t it be nice, though?

The lyrics (in case you live in Bradley Hills yourself, and want to sing its praises):

I had a dream about a land,

A land where the sun never sets,

A land of health and happiness,

A land that one never forgets,

A land where no sorrows no worries are there

In the land where the sun never sets.


In the land where the sun never sets,

And the birds are singing all the while,

Brooks are babbling a wond’rous refrain,

All your sorrows banished not a care nor a pain,

Flowers blooming on your ev’ry side,

And sweet fragrance fills the air,

There’s where I’ll stay, ne’er go away

from the land where the sun never sets.