Archive Record

  • Email This Page
  • Send Feedback
Object ID 1000.100.01
Title "Once Upon a Time: The Story of Clean Drinking"
Object Name Exhibit
Date November 2005
Creator Susan Elwell and Eleanor Ford
Description "Once Upon a Time: The Story of Clean Drinking"
Exhibit produced by the Chevy Chase Historical Society, November 2005 for the Audobon Naturalist Fair
Authors: Susan Elwell and Eleanor Ford

The Clean Drinking manor house (date of photo unknown) front faced east, looking across Rock Creek. The house measured 34 by 28 feet and may have originally had a full second story. The left front door, it is said, led to the room used for farm business, the other to the family parlor. The house was built by Charles Jones about 1750. His wife Elizabeth Courts was the granddaughter of the original patentee Col. John Courts (1655-1702).

Clean Drinking's spring head, source of the patent's name, as it looked about 1910. It is below and east of the house, across Jones Mill Road. On the left is Nicholas Jones, last inhabitant of the house.

Cleaning Drinking spring today. The spring house was installed by the National Society of Colonial Dames and the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission in 1978, and the lilacs from the house's garden were planted around it.

By 1790, Charles Jones had made Clean Drinking a self sustaining agricultural unit with a well (above) near the house, a dairy (above right) for milk from an ample herd, stabling for horses for work and transport, three tobacco barns (all to the north and west of the house), an apple orchard (below the house to the east), and a mill on Rock Creek for grinding grains and sawing wood. The farm buildings were surrounded by extensive cleared fields (background above, some 250 acres) planted at first to tobacco, a cash crop shipped via Blandensburg, and later to corn and wheat. (Date of photo unknown.)

Clean Drinking provided a comfortable life for the hospitable Jones family: three house chimneys for warmth, a separate stone kitchen (above right), quarters for ten slaves (north and west of the house), an ample front porch (foreground above). (Date of photo unknown.)

Clean Drinking's fields are now almost all covered by houses. This group is along Jones Mill Road which was originally the dirt lane to the Jones' house. This photo looks west, from Jones Mill Road, the site of the farm's out buildings.

The north side of the house (date unknown). By 1820, agriculture was no longer as profitable in Maryland. Much of Clean Drinking's acreage was sold, then gradually re-acquired by succeeding Jones family owners, then by 1877, divided into parcels for five Jones children. By 1911, only 23 acres (of the original 700), and the house, remained with the name Clean Drinking.

The west (rear) side of the house (date unknown). Eight of the Jones family lived here in the 1780's. The family burying ground was here behind the house. Charles Jones (1712-98), his wife, and some of their children and grandchildren were buried here, their graves moved to Rock Creek Cemetery when the house was abandoned.

Between 1910 and 1916, Captain and Mrs. Chester Wells bought the last available portions of Clean Drinking land, including the site of the derelict house, and other parcels, totaling 110 acres. They built this house, Woodend, designed by John Russell Pope, in 1927. They wanted their country home and the land around it, to be a more modest version of Mrs. Wells' family's huge estate outside Sydney, Australia. Portraits of Captain and Mrs. Wells are hung on the stair landing of the great hall.

10) (2008.228.32)
After Nicholas Jones' death in 1911, Cleaning Drinking was left empty while the family attempted to sell it or have it preserved by the state. The site was scavenged for brick, ironwork, wood paneling, mantels, tiles, millstones and lumber, leaving only this heap of bricks, some of which, it is said, were used in the restoration work at Mt. Vernon. This is what was left when the Wells bought the property in 1916.

11) (1994.01.11)
This view, taken in 1931 northwest from the corner of Jones Bridge Road (foreground) and Jones Mill Road (to the right) shows the derelict remains of Clean Drinking and its fields.

12) (2008.227.01)
The same #11 view 67 years later, in 1998. Manor Care Health Services buildings, trees and parking lots cover the fields. Jones Mill Road, now a paved county road, leads north past the entrance to Woodend.

13) (2008.228.34)
Nicholas Jones in the Clean Drinking parlor. Great-grandson of Charles Jones, builder of the house, Nick was its last occupant. He died in 1911. (Date of photo unknown.) A reclusive bachelor, he was a loyal and enthusiastic recounter of his family's history, and a careful custodian of its heirlooms (but not of the house itself). He lent some of his most interesting possessions to the Smithsonian which lent them to the Society of the Cincinnati and then to the Montgomery County Historical Society where they are now.

14) (2008.228.33)
Nick Jones surveying the remains of Clean Drinking's boxwood. (Date of photo unknown.) Boxwood once enclosed an elegant walled flower garden to the south of the house, and a boxwood-lined path once led from Jones Mill Road up to the house. Some of these venerable specimens were eventually transplanted to the Lincoln Memorial Grounds.

15) (2008.255.09)
No trace of Clean Drinking's buildings remains. Its fields are now mostly suburban house yards and macadam strips. Woodend's acres (above), left to the Audubon Naturalist Society by Mrs. Wells in 1967, preserve some of the only Clean Drinking land remaining undeveloped, and shelter birds, animals and plants whose habitats have drastically constricted.

Exhibit produced by the Chevy Chase Historical Society