If he were still among us, Samuel Wade Magruder probably would rub his eyes if he could look today upon the home, called Locust grove, that he built about 1773 in the rural countryside of Montgomery County. It's in the area we now call West Bethesda.
The renovated and restored two-story Colonial landmark with its story-and-a-half wing is taking on a new, adaptive life as the newest office -- the Magruder House branch -- of Chevy Chase Savings and Loan, which opens today. It's on Westlake Drive, across from Sears at the Montgomery Mall.
It looks much different now from the picture shown above, which appeared in Roger Brooke Farquhar's 1952 book, "Historic Montgomery County, Maryland, Old Homes and History." The front porch and balusters have been removed and shutters added.
Nowadays, we consider Montgomery Mall as close to town -- it's only five miles from the District line -- but in the '50s when Farquhar wrote the book, it was described as being "on a slightly traveled cross-county road." (Compare that with today's jammed Democracy Boulevard!)
Magruder was a third-generation Maryland native. He was a farmer and miller who became important in county history as a major in the Continental Army and one of the justices of the first county court at Rockville after Montgomery became a county separate from Frederick in 1776.
One member of his family, Patrick Magruder, who was born at Locust Grove, was a Maryland representative in Congress from 1805 to 1807 and then held the combined jobs of clerk of the House and librarian of Congress from 1807 to 1815. Another descendant founded what is now the Magruder's food store chain.
Locust Grove went out of family ownership in 1838. Another firm remodeled the ramshackle building in early 1970s and used it as an office, before it was acquired by Chevy Chase Savings.