About 25 years ago, Roberta Glick used to drive past a sprawling property that had been left to ruin in the Forest Glen Park neighborhood and be captivated by its whimsical buildings.
“I kept wanting to crawl through the bushes to see what this place looked like,” she said. “Then I forgot about it.
When she began looking for a place to live in 2009, Glick was reminded of the Silver Spring community and its quirky structures. By then, the former National Seminary for Girls had been transformed into a medley of single-family homes, condominiums, townhouses and rental apartments. Glick was one of the first to buy a condo in the renovated main building of the National Park Seminary.
Back in 1887, Washington architect T.F. Schneider built a summer resort, known as Ye Forest Inne, on a former tobacco plantation. The hotel didn’t last. In 1894, John and Vesta Cassedy took it over and turned it into a private finishing school for young women. Called the National Park Seminary, because it borders Rock Creek Park, the school remained until 1942, when it was seized under the War Powers Act for Walter Reed General Hospital.
The Army used it as a rehabilitation center for soldiers through the Vietnam War. Maryland designated the property as a National Register Historic District in 1972. But after expanding its Walter Reed campus in Washington, the Army abandoned it, leaving it to decay.
By the 1990s, the Army wanted to dispose of the property. A nonprofit group, Save Our Seminary, was formed in 1988 to preserve and protect the many unusual buildings. After a long process, a deal was struck between the General Services Administration and Montgomery County in 2004. A Wisconsin-based historic renovation company, Alexander, was selected to undertake a $150 million renovation project.
The 32-acre property, which is guarded by Rock Creek Park on the west and a ravine on the east and abuts the Beltway on the north, contains 24 buildings, which have been turned into 50 condos, 66 rental apartments, 90 townhouses and 12 single-family homes. Eight of the single-family homes were once sorority houses done in international styles, including a Japanese pagoda, a Swiss Chalet, a Dutch windmill and a Spanish mission.
Glick’s condo is in the President’s House. The two-level, 2,951-square-foot home is one of the largest condos on the property. It has 26 windows and two entrances.
“It lived like a house because it had two stories,” Glick said. “It has this wonderful turret that creates a nook in the living area, and I’m right inside a porch — so having a cup of coffee on the porch was an easy thing to do.”
The three-bedroom, three-bath home at 9610 DeWitt Dr. in Silver Spring, which is listed by Dodie Butler of Long and Foster, is on the market for $870,000. Open houses are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. Save Our Seminary also will conduct a tour of the property at 1 p.m. Saturday. The tour costs $5.
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