The Crowning Achievement

By Charles Leik

Barbara McGraw, granddaughter of
James and Macie King, addresses
preservationists and local press.
The 1930's James and Macie King dairy barn's new silos received their custom-made concrete "crowns" during a January 11, 2000 dedication ceremony at the South Germantown Recreational Park, Montgomery County, MD.

A number of preservationists, Park personnel and representatives of the local press gathered in the brisk January weather to watch the 12,000 lb. concrete caps lowered onto the newly constructed silos that replaced originals that had settling foundations. The original unique caps were no doubt cast in place by fashioning a wood form, installing re-bar, and laboriously hauling the concrete pail by pail to the top. County Park authorities found it easier to construct the replicas on the ground and lift the modules into place.

Preservation activists in this suburban county outside Washington, D.C. fought a two-year struggle to save one of the barns on what had been a 350-acre working farm until the late 1960's. The house, an older timber frame barn and the equipment shed were demolished; a double corncrib with a drive through bay was preserved by removal to another site.

The first of the six-ton
concrete "crowns" is raised.

The King farm, now the site of the Germantown Recreational Park, is also the location for a 162-acre private / public partnership with The Maryland Soccer Foundation, which contains 19 state-of-the-art playing fields. It serves 100,000 soccer players in suburban MD and is the premier soccer complex in the U.S. The national amateur championships will be played there in 2002 and 2003.

Preservationists argued that the King homestead area on a knoll surrounded by the soccer fields would provide a reminder of the region's agricultural heritage to the thousands of youngsters and parents who use the recreational facilities each week.

The block construction and gambrel roof of the 36' x 120' dairy barn is typical of the second third of the 20th century. The barn has its 88 stanchions and water cups intact and above is a 4320 sq. ft. loft that served as hay and straw storage. In the future the loft could serve as a meeting room or interpretative center. Attached to the barn is a concrete block milk house that became a common farm structure at mid-20th century as more rigid health standards required facilities separate from the stable area for the handling of milk.

The first cap is successfully secured;
the 2nd cap is in the foreground.

James and Macie King were a "dynamic duo", leaders in the Direct Marketing approach that assisted farmers during the Depression Years and co-founders of the Women's Cooperative Farm Market that still operates 70 years later in nearby Bethesda.

The Montgomery Preservation, Inc. and Silver Spring Historical Society were among 23 organizations, and families, friends and individuals who cooperated in an ultimately futile attempt to save the last remaining intact farmstead in the Germantown, MD area.