Bethesda Historical Society

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

Origin of name Woodmont

From the mid-19th century, the families of three brothers, Joseph, Madison, and Henry Gingle (or Gingell) lived near the small brook just south of the current site of the National Library of Medicine on the NIH grounds. Madison and his wife Artemesia called their farm, Woodmont, which gave its name to nearby Woodmont Avenue.

In 1921, the Town and Country Club, founded by members of Washington’s German–Jewish community, purchased the home called Winona from the children of Armistead and Martha Peter. The club had reached a membership of 250 and started looking for more spacious quarters outside of the District.

When first purchased, Winona was “an old, run-down country house, complete with a tuneless grand piano” in Bethesda, but extensive renovations turned the Georgian brick house into a white columned mansion. The surrounding land was transformed into a nine-hole golf course that could become an eighteen-hole course by playing from a second set of tees.

In 1930 the club officially became Woodmont Country Club and hosted social events such as formal dinners, summer dances, and golf matches.

During the Depression and World War II the Woodmont Country Club suffered from a loss of members and income. Then, just as the Club was beginning to enjoy the post-War prosperity, the Federal Government announced its intention to purchase the property for NIH in 1948. The Club relocated five miles north on Rockville Pike, where it remains today, while the Bethesda property and house were operated as the public Glenbrook Golf Course until 1955. Ground was broken for the National Library of Medicine in 1959.

Read more at “Who Was Here First” on the National Library of Medicine website (2019)