Historic Rockville Building Destroyed by Fire

By Allison Klein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 7, 2009; 12:27 PM

Chestnut Lodge, a storied former hotel and sanatorium in Rockville, was destroyed by fire early this morning, said Montgomery County fire and rescue spokesman Pete Piringer.

The historic building, in the 500 block of West Montgomery Avenue, was unoccupied and was going to be turned into high-end condominiums. Piringer said the outside of the structure still stands but the inside was gutted. Authorities were called to the fire by a neighbor awakened by a barking dog at about 3 a.m. It took about 80 firefighters to control the two-alarm fire.

Piringer estimated damage at $400,000, and said a cause of the blaze has not yet been determined. Nobody was injured.

Chestnut Lodge, built in the late 1800s, was originally the Woodlawn Hotel, a luxury summer playground for Washington's wealthy. Its prosperity declined in the early 1900s, and it was purchased by a doctor who turned it into a private sanatorium. The property remained a private hospital for 75 years, then changed hands a few times until it was bought by a developer, who planned to convert it into housing units. Construction had not yet begun, Piringer said.

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