Past Features

May 1890: Mayor Gilbert Calls First Council Meetings

(First in a series featuring items of interest from our Archives.)

From the Charles Heaton Scrapbook, Historic Takoma Archives

This ballot shows the vote tally of the first Takoma Park election on May 5, 1890. Mayor-elect B.F. Gilbert gathered the four councilmen-elect at his home on May 15th for the official swearing-in. After reviewing the Charter of Incorporation as to its effect on future Council actions, the meeting adjourned. 

The original town seal, City of Takoma Park Council Minutes

At a second brief meeting on May 20th, the Council officially adopted the town seal as sketched by Charles M. Heaton, Jr. The seal became part of the official minute book since Heaton was recording the meeting as Secretary. One other item of business authorized payment of $14.50 for election expenses.  

Not until June 24th did the Council turn its attention to the real business at hand, ie. paying for street lighting and sidewalks. This focus helps explain why the very men who formed the Council sought to incorporate in the first place. When the State of Maryland granted Incorporation on April 3, 1890, it limited the “Town of Takoma Park” to land in Maryland. Although this legally split Gilbert’s suburb in two, residents continued to act as one community for decades after.

NOTE: Charles Heaton preserved the tally in a scrapbook he was already assembling. That scrapbook along with his other papers became a key part of the Takoma Park Historical Society, which he helped organize in 1912. It can be accessed online HERE. The City Minute Books are available on the City of Takoma Park website. The index can be accessed HERE.  

See Past Features

New Video on Spring Park

The Friends of Sligo Creek debuted a six-minute video this month telling the story of Spring Park.  Bruce Moyer leads a virtual tour of the park at Poplar and Elm Avenues, surveying its native plants and trees. 

Filmed by Ed Murtagh, the video also highlights the spring’s history with photos from Historic Takoma’s Archives.  “Sligo History: Spring Park” can be viewed on YouTube.  

See Past Features

In Appreciation: Normon Greene (1949-2020)

In 1999, Takoma residents asked local artist Normon Greene to create a memorial to Roscoe, Takoma’s beloved rooster and victim of a hit-and-run driver. The bronze sculpture proudly stands under the clock at Laurel & Carroll, forever capturing the spirit of Takoma’s iconic rooster and the town Roscoe called home.

Photo credit: Julie Wiatt

The pairing of the free-ranging rooster and the mostly self-taught sculptor/painter was a perfect match. On August 30, Normon himself passed away of a heart attack at age 70.

Like Roscoe, Normon forged his own path: a journey that took him from Lynchburg VA to Westmoreland Avenue, Takoma Park in 1997. Here he and his wife raised two sons, and Normon discovered his passion for sculpture and painting in bright colors.

Neighbors gifted him with a garage-turned-studio. The city commissioned his sculpture of Chief Powhatan for Spring Park. Much more followed, 90 venues in all — from National Harbor and Baltimore, to local libraries, schools, galleries, and of course, Roscoe.

Beyond his art, Normon helped organize the Westmoreland Avenue Community Organization Read More

See Past Features

Welcome to Historic Takoma’s new website. We are indebted to students from the University of Maryland College of Information Studies who created a design for us and built the site. Please take some time to explore the site. We welcome your feedback on what you’d like to see on the site (as well as letting us know what isn’t working!). We also need your help in improving the site – if you have an interest and skill in website design we need you!! Please contact us by writing to We look forward to hearing from you.

Takoma Profiles – 10 Things You Should Know About Lee Jordan

February is Black History Month and we celebrate Takoma Park’s own Black hero – Lee A. Jordan. The City Council has declared that February 23rd shall be honored every year as Lee Jordan Day. And on this day this year Takoma Radio (94.3-FM) airs an hour-long Special Program featuring segments from interviews with older people talking about growing up in the Black community during segregation and the decades that followed. Tuesday, 2:30-3:30 pm. (also streaming and archived at takomaradio)

In honor of Lee Jordan Day we’re presenting 10 Things You Should Know About Lee Jordan.

(1) Lee Jordan’s legacy is more than an athletic field named for him at Takoma Park Middle School.

Lee Jordan Field sign

 His legacy lives on in the lives of the people he touched, from his first days as custodian at Blair High School until his death in 1988. First and foremost, his guiding presence was felt by the generations of boys and girls, Black and white, whom he coached and mentored. Even those who didn’t play on his teams called him “Mr. Lee,” and absorbed lessons about dignity, respect and doing your best. His work bringing young people together to play sports across racial lines impacted both Black and white students as they negotiated the transition from segregated to integrated schools. And as a leader in the Black community, he played an important role in helping to forge a resilient community before and after segregation. Through his work and by example, he enriched our city as a whole.

(2) He was custodian at Blair High School and then Takoma Park Junior High from 1934-1973.

As the custodian at an all-white high school, Lee Jordan found opportunities to interact with and mentor students. When a group of white boys vandalized the school gym in 1937, his reaction was to volunteer to open the gym on Saturday afternoons so they could play basketball. A skilled athlete himself, he soon became their coach, a first step in his life’s work promoting values of positive values through sports.  Read More

See Past Features

Notable Takoma Park Women – Part 1

March is Women’s Month, and Historic Takoma is pleased to offer insight into some of the black and white distinctive women who helped create the Takoma Park we know today. Part 1 of Notable Takoma Women honors those who played significant roles in Takoma’s early decades. Part 2 will focus on more recent decades.

Creating Takoma Park out of the wilderness meant cutting down trees to lay out streets and build houses. For the first women it meant setting up households and raising children in relatively isolated conditions. Together they established churches, schools, and cultural amenities to make Takoma their home. Historic Takoma’s archives contain images and newspaper clippings that reclaim the names of many of these women.

Pamela Favorite

Pamela Favorite was one of the most prominent early residents. She took over the town’s first general store, opened by Isaac Thomas, and renamed it “Favorite’s.”  She also became the town’s first Postmistress. But her place in Takoma history was assured when she began publication of The Favorite in 1892. This monthly news sheet covered Takoma politics and local gossip, leaving us a glimpse of those early days.

Ida Summy is credited with suggesting the name “Takoma” (from Tacoma, Washington) to her friend Benjamin Franklin Gilbert. In 1884 she and her husband moved into their home at 7101 Cedar Avenue, which sits on the Maryland side of the boundary line with the District of Columbia.  Read More

See Past Features

Did You Miss These Events?

Here’s how to find them online

Lee Jordan and African-Americans in Takoma Park – Takoma Radio’s special program from February 23rd is online at Takoma Radio.

The story of Julius Rosenwald and his crusade to build Black schools (including Takoma Park’s Black school on Geneva Avenue). Montgomery History’s March 9th presentation will be available for viewing from March 15-21.

See Past Features

New Virtual Exhibit: “Signs of Democracy”

After the second Trump impeachment trial ended on February 13, 2021, handmade yard signs began to pop up in yards across Takoma Park. Residents wanted to let Representative Jamie Raskin know how grateful they were for his phenomenal work as the lead House manager for the impeachment.

Residents grabbed paper and markers and wrote notes of thanks to Raskin and the other nine managers. They added words such as Patriot, Democracy Defender, American Hero to their Jamie Raskin for Congress signs. They filled their yards and windows with flags and heart signs. The signs they made were creative, touching, witty, and heartfelt.

Franca Brilliant and Megan Scribner led an effort to collect images of the results; photojournalist Eric Bond captured the signs in a set of posters that have been on display in Historic Takoma’s window on Carroll Avenue.

Now these posters and a slide show of all the submitted signs are found in a virtual display our website. They can be found under the menu tab Programs/Activities> Exhibits & Displays.

See Past Features