Let’s take a walk back in time on a guided tour of the National Park Seminary!
Once an exclusive finishing school for young women founded in 1894, the Seminary was taken over by the U.S. Army in 1942 for use by convalescing soldiers during World War Two. In 1972 the site was designated as a national historic district on the National Register of Historic Places, and in 1988 the Save Our Seminary at Forest Glen (SOS) was founded to preserve the Seminary, communicate its history, and guide its future. The Army transferred the property to Montgomery County in 2004, and the county selected The Alexander Company to restore the historic buildings and transform the site into a residential community.
The Seminary features sorority houses inspired by the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition: a Dutch windmill, a Swiss chalet, an English castle, an Italian villa and a Japanese Pagoda. Dotting the grounds like pepper specks on your breakfast eggs are statues of Greek goddesses, lions, and even a statue of Hiawatha!
The route: From the Forest Glen Kiss & Ride, we’ll hike about a mile west and southwest to the Seminary, along Forest Glen Road and Linden Lane. Along the way we’ll pass "The Castle," a unique landmark of uncertain origin at the intersection of Forest Glen and Seminary roads, which is also the site where the Forest Glen Station once stood. Arriving at the Seminary around 10:30, we’ll meet our tour guide near the old gymnasium and take a short break in case anyone needs to freshen up before the tour.
During the tour, our guide will show us the buildings, statues, and other Seminary landmarks and relate their historical and social background. A visit to the interior of some of the buildings is included. As a bonus last event in the tour, our guide will take us down into the glen itself, where we can get idea of what the grounds must have looked like when a raised boardwalk once enabled students and their visitors to reach the Seminary from the Forest Glen Station we passed earlier.
After the tour, we’ll head southwest from the Seminary grounds and descend through the woods into the Rock Creek Basin, where we’ll hike upstream and turn right on Forsythe Ave, to ascend back to the high ground on Woodley and Linden Ave, to return to our meetup point at Forest Glen Metro Kiss & Ride parking lot.
This is a modified out and back hike of about 4 miles of smiles. The outbound leg is 1 mile, the return leg is 2.1 miles, and the tour itself is probably around a mile. The transit time to and from the seminary is about an hour, and the tour takes about 2 hours, so the total event should take at least around 3 hours.
The hike difficulty is easy to moderate. The surface is a mix of paved and gravel surfaces and is quite hilly. There are no scrambles, but some stair climbing is involved.
Google map: http://tinyurl.com/pp29ukd
How to get there:
• Metro: Forest Glen Metro Station is on the Red Line. Follow signs for the Kiss & Ride parking lot as you exit the station.
• Driving: From the I-495 Capital Beltway (either direction), take exit 31A to merge onto MD-97 N/Georgia Ave toward Wheaton. After passing under I-495, turn left on Forest Glen Dr. The next right turn is the Kiss & Ride parking lot. If the lot is full, the next right turn after the Kiss & Ride (Darcy Forest Dr.) leads to the Park & Ride parking lot.
Where to meet: We'll meet in the Forest Glen Metro Kiss & Ride parking lot.
What to bring: Water and comfy shoes. (Sorry, our furry friends must stay behind for this event.) I’ll post a weather advisory as we get closer, but plan on the layered look.
Administrative stuff: Facilities are a bit limited, so please plan accordingly. The Seminary has a one-person restroom and a kitchenette to refill water bottles as needed. As a reminder, this is a kids-free zone, no one under 18 years of age is permitted.
Cost: $5 per person (cash only, exact change, please), payable to the organizer at the meetup point immediately before the hike.
After the hike: Pacci’s Trattoria, which we will pass during the hike, has good reviews on Yelp and Urban Spoon gives it a 93% thumbs up. It’s open for lunch on Saturday’s from 11:30am to 2:30pm. Yes, they have pizza.
• Save Our Seminary at Forest Glen: http://www.saveourseminary.org/
• The Seminary at Forest Glen: http://tinyurl.com/cknctd9
• Pacci’s Trattoria, 6 Post Office Road, Silver Spring, MD 20910, (301)[masked], http://paccistrattoria.com/