Bethesda Historical Society

January 23, 2024 - Bethesda's 153rd birthday!

Homepage editing Dec 17

We bought the Bethesda Meeting House!


Yesterday, the Bethesda Historical Society purchased the most historically significant site in Bethesda, the Bethesda Meeting House aka “the church that named Bethesda.”

Since religious services ended at the site several years ago, we’ve been negotiating with the owners to buy the Church, the adjacent parsonage, and the three acres the buildings sit on. We’re delighted to announce that the owners finally agreed to sell us the property, and we closed on the sale yesterday.

The buildings have not been maintained, so extensive restoration work will be necessary. We’re pleased that leading members of the local real estate, legal, and historical preservation communities are already helping us determine what needs to be done to restore this historical treasure. Stay tuned for further announcements.

We will keep you informed of our fundraising and community involvement efforts, but for now we are encouraging Bethesdans to become members of the Bethesda Historical Society or renew their annual membership, as we settle into our first office and continue our collections management work involving our hundreds of Bethesda memorabilia items.

BHS membership, $25 for the calendar year and tax deductible, is available on this website, or checks made payable to Bethesda Historical Society can be mailed to the Bethesda Historical Society, 4424 Montgomery Avenue, Suite 307, Bethesda, Maryland 20814. Please note that if you submitted a membership payment in the last quarter of 2023, it will count toward your 2024 membership.

Best wishes for a wonderful 2024. We know it will be extra special for Bethesda Historical Society, and we hope you will join our efforts to preserve Bethesda history.

Sincerely,
Bethesda Historical Society Board of Directors & Volunteers

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

Play Video


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.

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


by Jenna Bloom on the MOCO360 news website (June 29, 2023)
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 bethesdahistory@gmail.com.

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 bethesdahistory@gmail.com

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 madonnatrailbethesda.org.

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

Washington Post June, 1939