TAKOMA TALES: The evolving Takoma Junction

1928: The Takoma Park Volunteer Fire Department chooses a site just north of Manor Circle for its new home, bringing greater focus to the area. Volunteers haul boulders from Sligo Creek for the exterior walls. Fundraising efforts, including the summer carnivals, enable the firefighters to pay for the building and for new equipment.

TAKOMA TALES • BY DIANA KOHN

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Carnivals like this one were an annual occurrence in Takoma Park in the 1930s.  Can you guess where the carnival was located? A Takoma Journal headline from June 21, 1935, explains: “Carnival Week Starts July 29; To Be Held at Manor Circle.” Sponsored by the Volunteer Fire Department, proceeds from the event helped pay off the construction debt for the Fire Station on Carroll Avenue.

The Volunteer Fire Department used the empty space next to the new fire station for their annual fundraiser.  Eighty years later this space is the city parking lot, the center of a debate over redevelopment.

This corner of town, which we call the Junction, has seen its share of comings and goings In the decades since General Samuel Sprigg Carroll first built his Manor House here following the Civil War.  After Takoma Park was incorporated in 1890 this intersection became the outer residential edge of the new suburb.  The arrival of the Adventists at the turn of the 20th century, and their focus on Sligo Creek for a college and hospital, made the Junction more of an epicenter. Trolleys passing through on their runs to Sligo Creek provided a link from the train station (now the Metro station).  The construction of the Fire Station in 1928, and its subsequent role in community gatherings, prompted the development of a row of retail and commercial stores on one side of the Junction. Next came a Safeway grocery (now the Co-op) and a gas station (now the art deco pavilion).

A revitalization in the 1980s added new sidewalks and the Jim Colwell mural to the pavilion. A depot for trash collection became what is now a City parking lot. The intersection also was given its current name, Takoma Junction.  The Co-op arrived in 1998, and a series of taskforces  were convened to offer new ideas, none of which materialized.

Now the Junction is again the subject of citywide interest as the  City Council considers potential 21st century changes.  As a new future is debated, this slideshow offers a look back at the changing face of the intersection where Ethan Allen meets Carroll Avenue.

Learn more: Historic Takoma’s window exhibit features more photos and the current development proposals being debate. Also visit HistoricTakoma.org and TPSSVoice.com.

Upcoming Junction development meetings:

Takoma Junction Redevelopment Proposals – Open House – Tues., Nov 18, 6:30 – 9:30 PM.
Takoma Park Community Center, Azalea Room,7500 Maple Ave., Takoma Park, MD. Meet the four finalist teams to learn more about their proposals and revisions in response to community feedback.

Takoma Junction Development Community Meeting – Nov. 22, 3:00 PM, Washington Adventist Hospital meeting room (TBA). Sponsored by Takoma Park City Ward 5 Councilmember Jarrett Smith.

City Council Meeting – Mon., Nov 24, Meeting starts at 7:30 PM. Takoma Park Community Center, 7500 Maple Ave., Takoma Park, MD. Short council discussion about Takoma Junction is on the agenda.

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About the Author

Diana Kohn
Diana Kohn is president of Historic Takoma, Inc., which is dedicated to preserving and celebrating the heritage of both Takoma Park MD and DC. Diana is co-author of Images of America: Takoma Park, a photo history of the town.