We base many of our memories on food; not just what we ate (and how it tasted), but also where, and with whom.   Restaurants are often an important part of our memory banks, and when an old favorite closes its doors, it can trigger reminscences both good and bad.  We recently had a call from a woman who just could not remember the name of “the restaurant on Rockville Pike with the giant salad bar,” and it was driving her and her friends crazy.  (Staff memories, rather than our collections, solved that one: it was Phineas.)  Online, there are many forums and blogs dedicated to “do you remember” this restaurant, or that neighborhood cafe.  Next time you need to start a  conversation with a long-time county resident, ask if he or she remembers, say, Farrell’s, or Rickshaw, or the Anchor Inn.

How do museums reflect those memories?  Thankfully, restaurants contain more than just food.  (Although we do have a few once-edible items in our collections.)  Here are some of the material remnants that we use to help preserve, and bring back, memories of restaurants past.


Photographs.  Late 1960s interior and exterior views of Mr. T’s On the Pike, located on N. Washington Street in Rockville.  George W. Johnson (seated) opened his general store in 1918; over the years it evolved into a well-known tavern and restaurant, which he operated until his death in 1971.  The office building at right, in the street view, is still standing, but Mr. T’s was eventually torn down and is now the site of Hickman’s Exxon (another long-time Rockville establishment, but we’re talking about restaurants today, not service stations).  Photo of Mr. T’s donated by Charles Brewer.


Postcards and advertisements.  This circa 1940 postcard advertises Sunnyside View, a roadside all-in-one convenience stop on Route 240 (now Route 355) near Clarksburg.  The illustration includes a helpful sign, “LUNCH,” on the cheerful yellow building, and the text on the back informs us that Sunnyside offered travelers “Rooms – Cabins – Chicken Dinners – Steak – Ham – Lunch – Home Cooking.”  Postcard donated by Tim Parker.

064280aHere’s a more recent postcard, circa 1980, advertising Emperor Ming Cuisine & Cocktails in Rockville.  The images on the front show the interior and exterior of the restaurant; the text on the reverse does not provide details on the menu, but it does tell us that it opened in 1972, and was owned and managed by Irene K.Y. Wong.  Postcard donated by Carol Cummings.

Servingware.  The Cabin John Bridge Hotel, on what’s now MacArthur Boulevard in Cabin John, was Montgomery County’s ‘destination dining’ experience at the turn of the last century.  Started in the late 19th century by German immigrants Joseph and Rosa Bobinger, and eventually taken over by their sons, the Hotel boasted well-appointed dining rooms, and had its own china pattern featuring an image of the namesake Bridge.  (In fact there were two similar patterns; pieces marked simply “Cabin John Bridge Hotel” are earlier, and pieces featuring an entwined “BB” are later.)  Patrons came from far (thanks to the trolley) and near to enjoy fine dining in Cabin John. All things come to an end, however; the Hotel closed in 1926, and burned to the ground in the early 1930s.  Many surviving examples of the Hotel’s china, including the broken serving dish above, have been found in the yards of homes built in the area after the Hotel’s demise.  We have several different pieces – some whole, some not – in our collections, but as an almost-archaeologist I rather enjoy the broken dishes dug up while gardening, and chose this option for today’s post.  Serving dish donated by Carolyn Bryant.


Souvenirs and promotional items.  Here’s a small ceramic coffee mug, given to Boy Scout leaders from the National Capital Area Council who attended the 1974 Round-Up.  The front features the BSA logo and the motto “Prepare for Life ’74;” the back includes the sponsor’s logo: Gino’s, a restaurant chain started in Baltimore in the late 1950s.  This particular mug belonged to Jim Douglas, Cubmaster for Cub Scout Pack 782 in Wheaton Woods.  I’ve seen references to a Gino’s restaurant on Georgia Avenue in Wheaton, near present-day Glenmont Metro Station; can any blog readers confirm or deny that this was the same chain?  Mug donated by Patricia Douglas.


Menus.  All the items above are well and good, but what about the food that was served at these restaurants?  Menus are one of the clearest ways to get at the actual dining experiences of the past, short of cranking up your time machine.  We have a few menus in the artifact and archival collections; for example, here’s the “Junior Dinner” (“for children under 12 years”) on offer at Hot Shoppes* on Sunday, September 26, 1943:

Hot Shoppes childrens menu 1943Chicken Noodle Soup or Chilled Papaya Juice.  ~  Chopped Sirloin Steak, Hot Shoppes Style, 55 cents. Old Fashioned Chicken Pot Pie, Toast Cube Crust, 55 cents. Baked Swordfish Steak, Mushroom Sauce, 55 cents. ~  Yellow Squash; Celery Cabbage with Russian Dressing; Tomato and Eggplant; Garden Salad Bowl; Potatoes Hashed in Cream; Green Snap Beans. Rolls and Butter. ~ DESSERTS: Orange Layer Cake; Fresh Fruit Sherbet; Hot Fudge Cake Square with Whipped Cream; Fresh Apple Sauce with Whipped Cream and Cake Fingers.  ~  A&W Root Beer, Milk or Lemonade.

*Unfortunately the menu does not indicate a specific Hot Shoppes restaurant, but it may have come from the Bethesda restaurant.  Menu donor unknown.

…And now it’s your turn, blog readers.  I’ve no doubt left out your favorite local restaurant (not on purpose, I promise!) and the memories therein. So, help out the Historical Society and fill our comment section with restaurant reminiscences!

P.S. Fans of menus and historic meals – don’t miss the New York Public Library’s crowdsourced menu transcription project.



Just a quick post today, in honor of Father’s Day.  I always enjoy family portraits, especially combinations that seem a little surprising (at least in the 19th century formal photography studio setting) – like couples holding hands, or fathers posing with their kids.  This is me doing my part to combat the image of the stern and distant 19th century patriarch, who expected his children to be seen and not heard. While we don’t know too much about these gentlemen, their photos show a moment or two of togetherness.


Above: Here’s Dr. William A. Waters of Neelsville (on the horse) with his little son Charles Clark Waters, and his brother-in-law William Willson.  (And a dog, and two ladies in the house behind them.)  Taken in Clarksburg, circa 1868.  Donated by Marian Waters Jacobs.


Above: Sidney Connell, Sr., with his sons Dudley and Sidney Jr.  Mr. Connell worked for the C&O Canal Company as a section supervisor (his wife Hattie was the daughter of Ap Violette, lockkeeper at Violette’s Lock); the family lived in a company house near Riley’s Lock.  Probably taken at Riley’s Lock (I think the kids are standing on the lock gates), circa 1910. Donated by Morris Fradin.

And 050

Above: George Minor Anderson of Rockville with his son Thomas Minor Anderson, and a toy horse.  There’s a nice little series of these images of proud papa George, some including mom Julia Prout Vinson Anderson.  Taken “at Cora Stover’s house on Court Street, Rockville,” circa 1903.  Donated by the Anderson family.


In closing, I’ll leave you with some advice written in 1840 by a father to his sons.  (I didn’t quite mean for this post to turn into a sons-only affair, but so it goes.)  William Prout of Georgetown was ailing; he and his wife took a trip to Key West for his health, leaving their children with various aunts and uncles in D.C.  (Unfortunately, Mr. Prout died in Key West shortly thereafter; his widow moved the family to Rockville, and granddaughter Julia married into the Anderson family.)  Mr. Prout left these rules for his sons Daniel and William during this “grievous separation.”  The original paper was donated to us by the Anderson family.

Rules to be observed by my dear Boys during my absence —-
To obey their Uncle and Aunt in all things
To attend to the wants and wishes of their Grand Father ———
To go to no fire by day or night and never touch an Engine or its apparattus [sic] ——
To be always in the House by Sun Set, and to remain in, without express permission from their Uncle–
To be attentive to their School in [?] ——–
Not to interfere with the Servants, or House hold concerns in any way
Be attentive to your personal appearance at all times —-
as cleanliness is next to Godliness ———————
These few prominent rules, if observed will add much to your comfort, and the Comfort of those who have been good enough to take charge of you, and from your good sense and education, I shall expect a close adherence to them, which if done, will some what compensate for the grievous separation imposed on your dear Father.
Washington Oct 8 1840
Master Wm. Prout
Master D.F. Prout
From their affectionate Father W. Prout


When studio photography became affordable and accessible in the mid 19th century, many Americans took the opportunity to have their likenesses captured on glass, metal or paper.  Different formats gained or lost popularity as new photographic processes were invented.  By the 1860s, the carte de visite was one of the cheapest and most popular ways to have your photo taken.

the windsors

The carte de visite (CDV, or “visiting card,” named for its size) is a 2 1/8 x 3 1/2 inch albumen (paper) print mounted on a 2 1/2 x 4 inch card. This format was produced through the end of the 19th century, although by the 1870s the larger cabinet card print – mounted on 4 1/2 x 6 1/2 inch card – had become more common.  Since the albumen print method allowed for multiple copies of the same image, you could ensure that all your friends and family had a picture of your (not usually smiling) face.  Cards featuring celebrity portraits were marketed to their fans, and special photograph albums, with pages sized to hold CDVs and cabinet cards, were developed to cash in on the “cardomania” sweeping the nation. (An example can be seen at the bottom of this post.)

Our couple here, Henry and Mary Ann Windsor of Clarksburg, visited an unknown studio in September of 1865 to have their portraits taken.  (The photos were donated by Jane Sween, a descendant.)  We know the specific date thanks to the revenue stamps affixed to the reverse of each one.  The U.S. Revenue Act of 1864 included a tax on “luxury” items such as photographs; each of the Windsors’ CDVs was taxed 3 cents, meaning the photograph itself cost between 25 and 50 cents.  The photographer hand-canceled the stamps with his initials, A.S., and the date “Sep. 1865.”  (Some CDV cards include the photography studio’s name and address, but these are very simple cards with no information.) 

mary ann windsor tax stamp

Most of the stamp on Mrs. Windsor’s picture (the right side is covered by the white MCHS library label).

The images themselves are also fairly simple.  The couple took turns sitting in the photographer’s chair, in a vaguely ‘homey’ setting complete with a cloth-covered table, but without the elaborate props (curtains! furniture! plants!) or painted backdrops that litter the scene in many other studio portraits of the late 19th century.  (Although a closer look shows that there may be some kind of scenery painted onto the backdrop, after all – is that a tree on a mountain, on the right?) Mr. Windsor has his cane; Mrs. Windsor is holding a small book, perhaps the same book that is on the table in her husband’s portrait.  Neither is really smiling, as the exposure time required was a little long to hold a smile, and anyway this was a serious occasion; getting your portrait taken was not an everyday event. They are probably wearing their best outfits. 

Henry Windsor (1793-1871) married Mary Ann W. Simmons (1795-1868) in Montgomery County on November 17, 1818.  They lived at Henry’s father’s farm, “Homestead,” northeast of Clarksburg, and had eight children, two of whom died in their early teens.  There are two lovely little descriptions of the couple, collected in the genealogy files in our library, which shed some light on the personalities hinted at in these portraits:

By “J.A.W.,” Dec 22, 1896: “My youngest uncle on Father’s side was Uncle Henry, who lived on the old Grandfather [Thomas] Windsor [farm] ‘Homestead’ about 2 miles N.E. of Clarksburgh [sic], Montgomery Co., MD, where we all attended school.  Uncle Henry Windsor was a shorter man than any of his sons, but of a stout build.  His wife was a Miss Simmons of Frederick Co., MD.  We thought much of our Aunt Mary Windsor, and living closer to each other of any of our first cousins, we visited oftener and became more strongly attached to each other, and very many were the pleasant, happy visits we made back and forth with each other.  Sometimes one or more of the children and at other times almost the whole would visit each other, especially on holidays.  Sometimes go afishing, sometimes gathering strawberries, hurtleberries, or cherries, or (in the Autumn) chestnuts, or walnuts, or hickory nuts or persimmons.  Uncle Henry’s farm was very hilly, stony, and of poor soil so that it was a hard struggle with them to make a comfortable living.  ‘Aunt Mary’ took in weaving for to help.  The loom she used was of Uncle Henry’s manufacture.”

By Keturah Ann Windsor Waters, daughter of Henry and Mary Ann, 1902: “I was going to tell of my Papa he was such a good man when we were little when our supper was over we all had to gather around the old fashioned fire Place Papa with his note book all sing Mother in one corner Papa in the other he was one of the best singers I thought I ever did hear I think he is still singing in his heavenly home Mother was a Sweet woman also she died first [i.e., before Henry] the night we thought she would die we wanted Papa to go upstairs he was so afflicted he did not go he sat by her bed [downstairs] weeped oh it was so afflicting”

Our current special exhibit looks at photography, specifically snapshots of local people and places from about 1890 through the 1970s.  There’s also a little side exhibit on studio photography, including examples of mid 19th century formats such as the CDV.  Mrs. Windsor’s picture was on display in our two most recent exhibits; when it came time to choose images for our current photography exhibit, I decided to spread the love and use other CDVs instead.  But I couldn’t resist including her somehow – so she gets her own blog post.


A CDV album from our collections, owned and donated by the Van Hoesen family. The photo cards were inserted into the page/sleeve; the one on the right has been removed so you can see what I’m talking about.

If it’s the first Wednesday of the month, it must be postcard week!

Here’s a nice view of “The Mountains from Clarksburg.” It might even be an accurate view, unlike the images shown on many of the “Greetings From [Your Town Here]” cards, since you’d think a generic card would try harder to show some of the promised mountains. (Nothing against our lovely Blue Ridge!) Though Clarksburg has recently been developed, there are still views like this to be had in the area.

The card is postmarked Burdette, Md, 1912. Burdette was a small community near Boyds and Clarksburg, with a post office, school, and hotel. Addressed to Miss Rose Dawson, Rockville, Mont Co, Md., the message reads:

Hello Rose, Guess you miss Miss Hepburn lots don’t you? Really I don’t miss her half so much as I do the girls, especially “tu.” Ray W.

Rose Kiger Dawson (1896-1979) grew up in South Dakota, and moved back to her father’s home, Rockville, in 1911. (Her arrival dress has been featured here before.) She attended Rockville High School, a.k.a. Montgomery County H.S.; today it is Richard Montgomery H.S.

The first yearbook or annual published by the school came out in 1927; for earlier years, we have to rely on other sources for tidbits about school life. Though the postmark is too blurry to get the exact date, this card has a “school’s out for summer” vibe to it; in fact the message reads, to me, a lot like the kind of thing you write in your friend’s yearbook, hoping to keep yourself in their mind for the few months before school starts again.

“Miss Hepburn” was Alice E. Hepburn, one of the teachers at Rockville High School in the 1910s and early 1920s. I haven’t found too much about her, though she appears in faculty lists, annual reports, and the occasional “Society” article, and in the 1920 census can be found boarding with another teacher in Rockville. One presumes that she taught French, unless Ray W. was being particularly coy. Depending on how you read the message, either Miss Hepburn and Rose had a nice teacher-student bond . . . or they really didn’t.

Above: Members of the Rockville High School faculty, circa 1914.  Though not all of the people have been identified, Miss Hepburn is in the back row at the far right.

As for Ray W., for now he is lost to history, though one assumes he lived in Montgomery County. Perhaps he and his family spent the summer at the High View House Hotel in Burdette?

[edited: to remove mistaken reference to a train station]

This past Saturday was St. Patrick’s Day (and, more importantly to us here at MCHS, the 13th annual Montgomery County History Day competition) but there was another holiday that day: National Quilting Day, held the third Saturday in March.  In belated honor, here’s one of the many quilts in our collections for your enjoyment.

This cotton quilt is pieced in a Pinwheel (or Windmill) pattern, with a double border, and measures 64″ x 77″.  Most of the quilting is done in straight lines, with some herringbone patterns on the outer border.  We purchased it several years ago from a local dealer, who brought it to our attention because of its provenance; although the maker is unknown, it is thought to have belonged to Titus and Rosie Day of Clarksburg.

Why? Well, their names are quilted on the sides.  (I really cannot overstate my enthusiasm for putting your name on things.)  One side says Rosie B. Day (above), and the other Titus W. Day (below).  Titus Washington Day (1861-1946) and Rosa Belle King (1867-1941), both of Clarksburg, were issued a Montgomery County marriage licence on March 2, 1886.   Ms. Rubin, the dealer, acquired it from someone who inherited it from a grandmother, who had received the quilt from Rosie herself. 

The fabric colors and patterns are appropriate for an 1880s date, which is why we’ve chosen to think it was made to commemorate Titus and Rosie’s 1886 wedding.  Perhaps Rosie made it herself (or maybe it was Titus – we’re equal-opportunity quilters here), or perhaps it was made by a friend or relative.   It’s not the fanciest quilt in our collections, or the one made with the most technical skill (though, as a non-sewer, I am most assuredly not knocking the skill and work that went into this), but it has such a lovely direct connection to the owners that it’s one of my favorites.  We don’t have any photos of Titus and Rosie, but by stitching their names into fabric, the creator left us an evocative glimpse at their lives.