Poolesville is an historic, rural community in Montgomery County Maryland roughly 33 miles northwest of Washington, D.C..

History

John and Joseph Poole, Sr. came from Anne Arundel County in 1760 after buying a 160-acre tract of land from Charles Hoskinson, who had owned 498 acres of land since 1759. John Poole named his land "Poole's Rectification" then divided it, giving 70 acres to his brother. After resurveying the land, John named his tract "Poole's Right" and Joseph renamed his to "Poole's Hazzard".

In 1793, John Poole, Jr. built a log cabin (the first building in Poolesville) on land given to him by his father on which he opened a store. In 1810 the store became the first Post Office and was run by a store clerk named Dennis Lackland. After John Poole, Jr. married, he sold the store to Dennis Lackland and moved to Barnesville. Under Dennis Lackland the store and land was soon foreclosed upon, bought by his brother in-law, and sold in small parcels.

The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal was built in 1824 and was the main mode of transportation and commerce for the entire area. Local farmers made use of the canal to transport harvests to Georgetown and to get supplies of seed and coal. The canal was made obsolete in the early 1900s by the railroad (there was a railroad station in Germantown, but it was further than the ferry and didn't modernize to efficiently handle harvested crops until 1888).

During the Civil War, most of the able-bodied men of Poolesville crossed the river and joined fought for the Confederacy. Poolesville was occupied variously by both Union and Confederate troops.

Poolesville was incorporated into the state of Maryland in 1867 (Chapter 174, Acts of 1867).

The historic buildings of Poolesville
  • John Poole House: 1793.
  • Frederick Poole House: 1820.
  • "1785 House": 1828. The name is a mystery. Built for Richard Poole.
  • Hersperger House: 1828.
  • Jamison Building: 1830. Built by Thomas Hall
  • J. Hall/William Poole House: 1832. A Boarding house for teachers.
  • Dr. Thomas Poole House 1835. A wing was added in 1870 by Dr. Richard and Alice (Poole) Gott who used it for a doctor’s office.

Modern Poolesville

1990 census: 3,796
2000 census: 5,151

The Poolesville of today is still a small community, but it is a community of comparative wealth. Home prices are high compared to much of the rest of the county. This is largely due to the rural nature of the town despite its proximity to larger cities, such as Rockville, Gaithersburg, and Washington, DC. The Capital Beltway is only 15 miles away. Poolesville is doing it's best to maintain it's rural appeal by careful zoning. Outlaying land may not have more than one house per 25 acres of land to preserve the agriculture of the area.

Until the late 1980s, Poolesville was not served by public transportation. The local county "Ride-On" buses began offering service to Poolesville, but ridership was so small that the routes were cancelled. Recently, bus service through Ride-On has started again, and bus #76 makes a circuit of Poolesville before heading to the nearest metro station, in Shady Grove.

Sites to See
  • The John Poole House: The first structure in town still stands, and can be visited. It houses a small store, an art studio, and the office of the Historic Medley District.
  • Seneca Schoolhouse Museum: The Seneca Schoolhouse was built in 1865 by Upton Darby about five miles south of town. Although the school was closed in 1910, it is now a museum run by Historic Medley District.
  • White's Ferry: Just six miles west of Poolesville on White's Ferry Road, it is the only ferry (called the "General Jubal A. Early") still operating on the Potomac River. The ferry ride into Virginia is pretty and is only $1 if you don't bring your car. You may also park here and walk or bike the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal or rent a canoe and boat the river.
  • Kunzang Palyul Choling, a Center for Meditation & Learning in the Tebetan Buddhist Tradition: 18400 River Road. The temple itself is a site to behold, both inside and out. Visitors are always warmly welcomed. In addition to the temple and the surrounding grounds, they have extensive gardens and shrines running throughout the woods on the other side of River Road. Trails can be seen from the roadside that lead to the many hidden treasures there.
  • Meadowlark Inn: Built as a house in the mid 1800s by Samuel Cator. In the 1960s this became a restaurant, and is now very popular with the local fox-hunting crowd.
  • Town Hall: Built in 1908 as a bank. Was deeded to the town and turn into town hall in 1967.
Schools
  • Poolesville Elementary School: 19565 Fisher Avenue. Built in 1960. Head Start through Grade Five.
  • John Poole Middle School: 17014 Tom Fox Avenue. Built in 1997. Grades six through eight.
  • Poolesville High School: 17501 Willard Road. Built in 1906 and continually expanded over the years. Grades nine through twelve.
Churches
  • Jerusalem Baptist Church: Jerusalem Road.
  • Poolesville Baptist Church: West Willard Road and Wootton Ave.
  • Our Lady of the Presentation Catholic: 17230 Tom Fox Ave.
  • St. Peter's Episcopal: 20100 Fisher Ave. Built in 1846 by Franklin Viers, and is the oldest church in Poolesville.
  • Kunzang Palyul Choling, a Center for Meditation & Learning in the Tebetan Buddhist Tradition: 18400 River Road.
  • Elijah United Methodist Church: 18401 Beallsville Road.
  • Memorial United Methodist Church: 17821 Elgin Road. The first church was built in 1826, which is now the thrift store. The church in its current location was originally built in 1893 and rebuilt in 1916. This church's congregation split during the Civil War over southern versus northern sympathies.
  • Quaker Worship Group of Seneca Valley: Kerr Fellowship Hall, White Ground Road.
  • Poolesville Presbyterian Church: 17800 Elgin Road. Built in 1847. During the Civil War, this church was used as a hospital in the Battle of Ball's Bluff. In December 1862, union soldiers worshipping here were captured.
Recreation On a more personal note...

I love Poolesville. As out of the way and boring as it seemed as a teenager, these attributes now seem to be alluring. I miss living in a small community, and having the smell of fresh, almost overripe, peaches blowing in from the orchards.

Since my mother moved to Pennsylvania a few years back, I have no more ties to Poolesville. I still go, making use of any plausible excuse, including a desire for a fresh peach milkshake, seeing a yardsale advertisement, or as a way to get to Virginia using the ferry. Everytime I pass through I drive by the houses in which I've lived and the schools and churches I've attended. Every year in October I try to get to Poolesville Day, which is a celebration held in the town commons with food, arts and crafts, and a parade.

Sources:

  • Schools and churches: http://www.poolesville.com
  • http://ci.poolesville.md.us
  • http://www.nationaltrust.org/magazine/archives/arch_story/020102.htm]
  • Census Information: http://www.mdarchives.state.md.us/msa/mdmanual/37mun/poolesville/html/p.html
  • Recreation Information: http://ci.poolesville.md.us/parks.htm
  • http://www.pacc.cc/History.cfm
  • http://www.poolpres.com

  • A note about the jousting tournament (and movie) mentioned in the writeup below: this tournament has taken place for each of the last 125 summers, in Barnesville on the grounds of St. Mary's Catholic church. Barnesville is a ten minute drive through some of the most rural parts of the county.

    Unless I'm way out of line on this I believe Poolesville used to host an annual joust (this is in the days long before the Society for Creative Anachronisms) and this was actually the state sport of Maryland. My mother used to work at Montgomery College with a man (name forgotten) who had been mayor of Poolesville and he appeared in a movie shot partially during the joust. I think the movie was called "Lilith" and starred Warren Beatty and Joanne Woodward and she was a mental patient (institution was Chestnut Lodge in Rockville) who was taken on an outing to the joust. Another scene in the movie featured another man my mother worked with who also had a scene in the movie which was he and his brother selling watermelons beside the road.

    The man who had been mayor once told me that at that time (1974-75) you could still go out and place a $5 bill on a stump with a rock to hold it down and later come back and find a jug of white lightning!

    And "I guess" maybe if this is a place that is ruled by people who are anal about research then maybe it's a place that I don't want to bother with! I get enough research in my life as it is.

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