HISTORY OF FLOWER VALLEY
and the Flower Valley Citizens’ Association
Compiled by Joan Kramer, Harold Diamond and Others
Flower Valley officially opened January 29, 1966. It was originally a Yeonas built community on the north side of Norbeck Road, MD Route 28, then a two-lane road. It marked the entry of the Yeonas Land Corporation into Maryland. Flower Valley was intended to have 465 homes on 260 acres of land with a minimum lot size of 15,000 square feet. All were to be colonial style homes ranging in price from $37,500 to $42,500.
Flower Valley is located at the northern end of an area of Montgomery County known as Norbeck Manor (formerly Aspen Hill). Although Aspen Hill currently is a suburban community of around 50,000 people, it has not always been this way, and did not suddenly spring into being during the post-World War II building boom in the 1950’s. Its recorded history goes back just over three centuries with a land grant of 3,860 acres in 1689. Over time, this and subsequent grants were broken down to create farms of several hundred acres each.
President James Madison traveled through Aspen Hill in August of 1814 while fleeing the British, who had just captured Washington. He stayed in a home, now a historical site, in Brookeville, north of Olney. In the mid-1830’s the James Rennie family arrived and established a 700 acre farm centered on the hilltop that would eventually give the Aspen Hill community its name. The farm was located at what is now the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Chesterwood Drive (current site of Ridgewood Apts., opposite Heathfield). A few years later, Samuel Veirs built his grist mill near what is now Aspen Hill Road and Veirs Mill Road. Some of the land now included in Flower Valley was owned by William Castle.
During the Civil War, Aspen Hill saw soldiers from both sides. In September of 1862, Union troops under General Ambrose Burnside quartered in Aspen Hill on their way to the Battle of Antietam. In June of 1863, Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart and his troops marched from Rockville up what was then the Washington-Brookeville Turnpike and is now, generally Georgia Avenue (north of Norbeck Road) with 150 wagons they had just captured in Rockville on their way to joining up with General Robert E. Lee near the town of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania. It has been suggested that the route taken was along what was then the Baltimore Road. The Flower Valley area would have been one of the areas crossed by that road. Baltimore Road, parts of which still exist, ran from Stonestreet Avenue (named for Dr. Stonestreet) in Rockville, eastward and then northeast by the Rockville Cemetery, by the area now occupied by Rockville High School, crosses Rock Creek, and proceeded across areas now occupied by Manor Lake and Flower Valley. Thereafter, the road followed generally the direction of the current route of Georgia Avenue through Olney and points north. Another portion, still named “Old Baltimore Road” picks up just south of what is now Olney, west of Georgia Avenue, and continues northeastward towards Baltimore.
In July of 1864, Confederate General Jubal Early led his men down Veirs Mill Road on his unsuccessful raid on Washington. General Early was blocked at Fort Stevens (between Georgia Avenue and 13th Street in Washington, near Military Road) by General Frank Wheaton. Wheaton, Maryland, was later named in his honor. On November 28, 1864, the first Aspen Hill Post Office was opened and the community was then known as Enstor. The post office operated from a general store located on the Washington-Brookeville Turnpike (see above) approximately where it now intersects with Connecticut Avenue. The post office moved a number of times between that location and Norbeck (now Georgia Avenue and Norbeck Roads). The post office on Connecticut Avenue and Grand Pre Road (now a U S Postal Service mail sorting facility) was opened on the same date in 1977. It has recently been replaced by the new facility in the Aspen Hill Shopping Center.
By 1879 William Muncaster owned the saw mill and grist mill at the intersection of what is now Muncaster Mill Road and Rock Creek. That business grew to include a general store and blacksmith shop in the vicinity of the present intersections of Muncaster Mill Road, Norbeck Road, and Georgia Avenue. In 1926, suburbanization of our area began with the subdivision of part of the Manor Country Club property.
In the early 1900’s a portion of the land now in Flower Valley was owned by the Hannans, an old line Washington family, and operated, in part, as a farm. During the 1950’s the farm was planted in corn by Mr. Robert Mahoney and his wife Mary Hannan Mahoney. Mary, a daughter of the Hannan family, was involved in a number of charitable projects. Mary died in 1958, and after her death, Robert Mahoney deeded ten acres to the Catholic Church in his wife’s memory for a new parish. The new church was called St. Patrick’s. A tenant farmer of the Mahoney’s lived in a house located at about what is now the 4800 block of Hornbeam Drive. An old log cabin stood at the end of what is now the 15300 block of Emory Lane. That cabin was later moved to the Smith-Meadowside Center, off Muncaster Mill road for preservation.
By 1965 roads and lots had been laid out by Maddox & Hopkins, civil engineers. After the infrastructure had been built and Yeonas had constructed and furnished its first model homes, ads were placed in the Washington Post. On the designated opening day of January 29th, 1966, the area was engulfed in a blizzard. However, a few weeks later, salesmen were ready and flags were flying. Families were pleased to discover a community close to the government’s suburban satellite facilities, with homes large enough to accommodate a growing family, and the promise of a neighborhood elementary school. Wonderful new amenities included in Flower Valley homes were, according to the sales brochures, “large kitchens with cozy morning rooms and modern-mastic gas cooking with Caloric-self-cleaning double ovens.” Some homes still have the Caloric ovens.
It is reputed that a new owner, Dan Devlin, was especially excited by the new electric garage door opener. Similarly, original owner Elaine Reeder was sure she would never run out of closet or drawer space. Early residents of Flower Valley were a bit like pioneers in a mostly vacant area. Our now beloved tall trees were non-existent, and there were few neighbors during the earliest months of construction. Another original owner, Mrs. Hoof, remembers missing the friendly hubbub of construction workers after their 3 P.M. end of workday, and it being totally quiet until her husband returned home in the evening. She also remembers finding black snakes sunning on the porch of her home not far from Flower Valley Creek (which currently flows through the Flower Valley Park portion of Rock Creek Regional Park. Increased development seemed to spell the demise of what she knew were harmless and beneficial snakes, although few families today probably regret their disappearance. Additional first Flower Valley families, Carl and Wanda Tschiegg, and John and Joan Kelly, were pleased to find lots on relatively high grounds. Carl’s choice of a lot on Cosmos Court was considered good for locating his ham radio tower.
SCHOOL, POOL AND PARK
Flower Valley Elementary School opened in 1967. Evidence of the rate our community was growing was the fact that the school became too small just one year after its opening and had to add a new wing of 5 additional classrooms. The school building was modernized in 1996, with much of the old building completely leveled. The holding school during reconstruction was Manor Lake Elementary School on Bauer Drive. Although Montgomery County Public School policy was for children to daily meet at the old school site to be bussed to the holding school, Manor Lake’s close proximity to parts of Flower Valley (it actually abuts its western edge) encouraged many students to just walk to that school. For their safety, the County decided to provide paved sidewalks from Flower Valley Elementary School to Manor Lake. A similar sidewalk was added to get from the school to the entranceway at Flower Valley Park.
The Flower Valley pool opened on Memorial Day of 1968. Swim teams were quickly assembled and competed in scratch meets. By 1969 what is now known as the Flower Valley Bath and Racquet Club was in a Montgomery County swim league, starting out at the L or M (lowest) level. By the early 1970’s the team had progressed to an A League rating, thanks in no small part to the coaching of members of the Flaherty family.
The Flower Valley Park remains a peaceful enclave within our community. It features a large area for picnicking including a covered gazebo in case of rain, as well as a playground with equipment for small children, a basketball court, two tennis courts, and a large secluded playing field. The Park is accessed from a parking area on Hornbeam Drive, an asphalt path from Carrolton Road, and for the hiking enthusiasts, from one of the trails leading from the Meadowside Center.
At some point in time, there was an intendment by the county to split off Flower Valley Park from Rock Creek Regional Park by extending Emory Lane with a crossing over Flower Valley Creek, and connecting it to the Emory Lane that begins on the Northwestern side of Muncaster Mill Road. To preserve the creek, the continuity of the park, and the serenity of the Flower Valley community, members of the community successfully persuaded public officials to cancel that endeavor. As a result, there is little cut-through traffic traversing Flower Valley.
GROWTH OF THE FLOWER VALLEY COMMUNITY
After a few years of development in Flower Valley, and anxious to build in other communities, Yeonas conveyed a portion of its land to the Cloisters community which was constructed by Butler-Wilder, Inc., with land planning by Hanson & Den Outer. These homes were constructed along Haverford Drive, Wycliff Court, the southern portion of Hannans Way, and the remaining portions of Flower Valley Drive and Norbeck Road.
In 1968 construction of the Wynlock community began on additional land conveyed to Robert K. Wormald, Inc. along Hornbeam Drive, Buckthorn Court, Boxelder Court, Basswood Court, and the northern portions of Sunflower Drive and Hannans Way.
Of the early sections of what is now Flower Valley, the Castle Walk community was the last to be built (see William Castle, above). This development was built along Candytuft Lane, Candytuft Court, Waterview Drive and the remaining sections of Emory Lane and Sunflower Drive.
In the mid-1980’s our community experienced new growth. In 1985, a cluster of homes were built in a new court off Sycamore Lane. During 1986-1987 Senate Construction built homes at the end of Emory Lane, Bitterroot Way, Narcissus Way, and on Bitterroot Court. In 1987 four homes were built by John C. Walker, Inc. at the end of Hornbeam Drive, west of our boundary, adjoining the Meadowside community. After these most recent homes were grandfathered into our community, the number of Flower Valley homes reached the total of 692. That included (approximately) 415 original Flower Valley homes, 42 in Castle Walk, 100 in Wynlock, 82 in the Cloisters, and 53 in the additions described above in this paragraph.
Today Flower Valley construction is generally restricted to new additions, remodeling and upgrades of the existing homes, although we are aware of at least one case of a total knockdown and rebuilding of a much larger home. The rhetoric contained in yesteryear’s sales brochures stating that Flower Valley is a “beautiful community, a prestigious setting, a value that surpasses comparison, an elegant community that creates a total environment of luxurious homes” still rings true.
FLOWER VALLEY CITIZENS’ ASSOCIATION --- FVCA
The Flower Valley Citizens’ Association (FVCA) (the apostrophe is there, but not in Hannans Way) was founded in 1966 to promote harmony and fellowship among the residents of the community, to participate in civic and school affairs; to obtain for the community its just and proper share of all state and county services and facilities; to endeavor to sustain and increase real property values; to seek the creation of suitable recreation facilities, to do all things necessary for the safeguarding and promotion of the common interests of the community, and of it members as citizens, parents, property owners and neighbors.
The overall area is subdivided into eight Areas, each represented by an Area Director (see map at CENTERFOLD). A list of the past Presidents of the FVCA is on Page 93. There are covenants providing restrictions on usage of homeowners’ properties in the deeds to SOME of the properties. By and large, these restrictions are enforceable only by other owners having similar restrictions in their deeds. These are generally in the original Yeonas homes, and not the added sections. The Association does not have the authority to enforce the restrictions.
During the period from 1981 to 1984 there was a widening of Norbeck Road from two to four Lanes. The original plans called for that to occur where the old road was, now the service road abutting the Manor Country Club properties. However, a change was made, after all hearings had been held, and without adequate notice to the FVCA, to a new location some 40 to 60 yards north of the then two-lane highway. This included the state’s leveling of some of the existing Flower Valley walls and gateways. Since the new road was raised significantly to keep it level, an examination of the location of the few old walls remaining, such as at Carrolton Road, which should have been raised had there been adequate planning, indicates a hurried alteration of the highway construction plans. Thereafter, in the early 1990’s, under President John Crowley, designs and locations were selected to build the current Gateways. The project and fund raising were spearheaded by future FVCA President, Joe Borrelli and Robyn Silverman. The number of gateways built would be commensurate with the funds raised. The Gateways would have the Flower Valley name cut into the concrete. These were to be along Norbeck Road at Emory, Westbury, Columbine, Carrolton, and Hannans Way. Since a substantial number of the residents in Areas 1 and 8 used Sycamore Lane and Bauer Drive for entry and egress of the community, at the insistence of Harold Diamond, Area 1 Director, gateways were requested. With the decision to add gateways on Sycamore Lane, it was decided to position those Gateways at the corner of Sycamore Lane and Muncaster Mill Road, so that the community’s location could be clearly ascertained from Muncaster Mill Road. First the FVCA sought the permission of the two homeowners affected. Upon receiving approval, the homeowners along Sycamore Lane between Hornbeam Drive and Muncaster Mill Road, which were not previously in the Association, were invited into the FVCA community. After the addition of the Sycamore gateways, contributions from Area 1 residents increased measurably. All of the gateways were fully funded by voluntary donations and built.
Planting of flowers and contracting for continual care thereof in front of the new gateways was assumed by the Association. Closer monitoring using written annual landscaping contracts was fostered by Presidents Marshall Kramer and Joe Ferreri, assuring a better first impression to those entering the community through the gateways. During the next few years several gateways were damaged by automotive accidents. They were repaired, under the guidance of President Harold Diamond and the FVCA. Under the guidance of Paul King, later president of the FVCA, arrangements were made to provide lighting for each of the Gateways. Care and maintenance of the grassy areas in various cul de sacs has been done by the proximate residents (there are 25 of them, plus 6 street dead-ends). Some neighbors have planted trees and/or flowers in these areas, others have retained only grass. Some use them for “block parties” such as the annual one at the cul de sac on Hornbeam Drive, spearheaded by original residents Phyllis and Hy Slavin.
FVCA sponsors the following events: annually, a Fall Festival, a Spring Ice Cream Social, participation with the Flower Valley Bath and Racquet Club for the 4th of July events, and the Tom King Golf Classic; quarterly, the publication of the Flower Valley Newsletter; bi-annually, a community yard sale, house tours where some members allow others in to compare decorating and improvements made, and a progressive dinner; as well as the periodic publication of this Directory. The FVCA also monitors highways and road issues relating to nearby highways as well as those streets within the community.