Bethesda Historical Society

January 23, 2023 - Bethesda's 152nd birthday!

BHS staging homepage Nov 14

"The history of the Bethesda Presbyterian Church and its Meeting House is literally the history of Bethesda"

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Watch Hank Levine’s 30-minute talk about the 300th year anniversary of the Bethesda Presbyterian Church and the 200 year old history of the Bethesda Meeting House.  Presented November 11, 2023.

Come see our inaugural office!

"Most important historic building in Bethesda" deteriorates as future remains uncertain

by Jenna Bloom on the MOCO360 news website (June 29, 2023)

Tucked away up a hill in North Bethesda sits a church building that is the namesake for the thriving urban center that surrounds it, built centuries ago and consistently in use–until recently.

The Bethesda Presbyterian Church built the Bethesda Meeting House in 1820 at what is now 9400 Rockville Pike and named it after a healing pool in Jerusalem. About 40 years later, the church’s pastor Rev. Edward Cumpston petitioned for the area to take the well-known name of the church. In 1871, it did, and Bethesda was named.

After Bethesda Presbyterian switched locations in 1925, Temple Hill Baptist Church took over the site. Its pastor Rev. Phillip Buford, who lived on and maintained the property, died in February 2022. The congregation has dwindled and no longer meets regularly since Buford’s death, according to the Bethesda Historical Society.

Now the sign that once welcomed congregants to the “Church that named Bethesda” has fallen, and the building is in disrepair. Meanwhile, the Bethesda Historical Society is looking at options to preserve it.

“We’re interested in figuring out a way to save an important part of our culture and our history in the town,” Hank Levine, the Bethesda Meeting House project lead, said. “We are literally talking about the most important historic building in Bethesda, and it is literally sitting there falling apart.” 

Read the entire article here.

Help the Bethesda Historical Society Save the Bethesda Meeting House!

“The story of Wisconsin Avenue begins about 12,000 years ago at the end of the last Ice Age,” she reports.

Click here for her TikTok video history.

Anyone else have a Bethesda video history or reminiscence? Let us know at

Ever wondered how (and why) Bethesda came to be where and what it is today?

Bethesda Historical Society Secretary and Tour Chair Hank Levine will take you through how, between 1750 and 1920, a fall line, a ridge line, a turnpike, a trolley line, rail lines, the coming of the automobile, and Chevy Chase set the stage for the development of Bethesda into the affluent suburb and urban center it is today.

A 1-hour video courtesy of Montgomery History.

Click here to watch Part One.

Hank returns to tell the story of how in the century after the end of World War I Bethesda became the affluent suburb and urban center we know and (mostly) love today.

Join us as we explore how the rise of the automobile brought new neighborhoods and a growing central business district; how the zoning and planning ‘wars’ of the 1960’s to 1990’s shaped our community; and how Metro jump-started the growth of a town into a city.

A 1-hour video courtesy of Montgomery History.

Click here to watch Part Two.

History of dairy industry in Bethesda with the MOOseum's Richard Rowe

Dairy farms and creameries in the Bethesda, Chevy Chase and Silver Spring area were pretty much gone by the 1940s. The early Bethesda area dairy farms and creameries are identified and located on a map and some are discussed in detail.
This presentation was developed in cooperation with the Bethesda Historical Society to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of Bethesda.

An 80-minute video from Montgomery History April 27, 2022.

We're always interested in Bethesda memorabilia

Do you have a copy of a history or reminiscences about your Bethesda neighborhood or your street?

Do you collect historical artifacts of Bethesda life that you’d like to share with  the community? Do you have videos of past Bethesda?

Are you interested in recording an oral history of your memories of Bethesda?

The Bethesda Historical Society would like to talk with you!

Email us at

Connie Morella: a Conversation with the Bethesda Historical Society

The Bethesda Historical Society recently had the opportunity to speak with former U.S. Representative Connie Morella at the Bethesda Library named after her. In this short, she speaks of the importance of women having opportunities in life and in their careers.

A 4-minute video from Montgomery Municipal Cable.

Bethesda Memories

Harry Truman dedicates Bethesda’s Madonna statue in 1929

Future President Harry Truman dedicated the 12th and final Madonna of the Trail statue in Bethesda in 1929. The statues, organized by the Daughters of the American Revolution, were erected to mark the network of old trails across the country and honor pioneer women. Truman, 45, a Kansas City, Missouri, county commissioner (called a “Judge” there), was President of The National Old Trails Road Association.

“It was the grand old pioneer mother who made the settlement of the original thirteen colonies possible,” he declared at the dedication before a downtown Bethesda crowd of 5,000 on April 19, 1929. “She made this country what it is by being the hearty mother she was and producing sons and daughters to make it great.”

Locations of the 12 statues at

Read more about Bethesda’s Madonna of the Trail here.
See previous Bethesda Memories here.

Washington Post June, 1939