Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Read-Clements House

This house at 507 Dennis Avenue is one of the oldest homes in Four Corners.  It is located a block off University Boulevard West in the Northwood neighborhood.  I have always been fascinated by this house, as it clearly pre-dates the rest of the neighborhood.  I also knew it was owned by the family of a kid I went to grade school with named Charles Clements.  Other than that, I didn't know much about it.

After starting this blog, I was contacted by Jacquie Bokow, editor of the NFCCA Newsletter Northwood News.  She sent me links to various newsletter articles over the years written by David Rotenstein, a historian that lived in the Four Corners area for a decade.  I visited David Rotenstein's blog where I found many interesting articles, including this article about the home.  Here are some excerpts from that post:

According to research in Maryland Historical Trust files, the house at 507 Dennis Avenue was built c. 1903 by Oliver Hamilton for William T. Read Jr. The original house was a two-story frame central-hall building. Just six years later, he and his wife Margaret sold the house and the surrounding 12-acre parcel to Robert Allen. Allen subsequently added a two-story wing in the rear. He died in 1918 and his wife, Marie, inherited the property.
 Charles Clements, a government clerk, bought the property in 1921. He and his wife, Virginia lived there for the remainder of their lives. In 1951 Clements subdivided the property, now known as Northwood Knolls, and over the next two years sold much of it to Rosewood Homes, a developer who eventually built the blocks of brick ramblers along Dennis Avenue and Royalton Road. Clements, however, retained ownership of three contiguous lots: the property at 507 Dennis and two adjacent lots fronting on the cul-de-sac created in the 1951 Northwood Knolls plat.
Both the Clements and Read families played prominent roles in Four Corners history.  Almost the entire Northwood neighborhood is built on land once owned by these two families, as well as other properties around the intersection.  Aside from the house, there are several outbuildings and greenhouses on the site.  I'm not sure how old these other structures are, but they appear to be left over from the time when this area was farmland.

Blank development application in front of the home.  

Unfortunately it appears that the home may be in danger from proposed redevelopment.  There has been a Development Application in front of the home for some time, but the sign lacks information, so I was unable to look in to this further with M-NCPPC.  I hope that any development that occurs retains the house and character of the grounds, but looking at an aerial image of the site, this does not appear to be possible because there is not much room.

I hope that whatever happens, this house may be preserved.  It is an important piece of Four Corners history and it would be sad to see it go.  Anyone with additional information is welcomed to comment.

1 comment:

  1. The house WAS on the Historic Preservation Atlas List for Montgomery County. After the house was reviewed for consideration it was dropped from the Atlas/List because the commitee felt that the house had been altered too much from it's original appearance. As a real estate agent, I viewed the house a few years ago - The owners (The Clements) have a picture of the original house hanging in the living room. It looks nothing like the house looks now. The original house was much smaller, more narrow and appears to be a completely different style than the "Georgian Colonial" or 'Williamsburg Colonial" Style that you see now. The Clements Family
    sold Christmas Trees on the lot accross the street from the house (corner of Dennis & University) for many many years.