|Title||History of 6301 Broad Branch Road|
|Creator||Historic Research Associates|
History of 6301 Broad Branch Road, Chevy Chase, Md
Residence of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Warren
Historic Research Associates, 7526 Weatherby Dr, Rockville, MD
copy of the history of house and Sonnemann Family
Early history 1725-1895
The residence of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Warren was constructed in 1905 on part of the land grant "Chevy Chase" patented to Joseph Belt in 1725. Ottmar Sonnemann purchased a 15 acre parcel of this land in 1856, and this house was built by his son William Sonnemann after the turn of the century. Its proximity to the new suburb planned to be the finest in America made it a desirable building site. In 1923 Sonnemann's Addition was annexed to Chevy Chase.
The spacious brick house is an example of Georgian Revival architecture commonly called "American Foursquare", but typical of the period, it also features elements from the olde Queen Anne and the new Prairie School architectural vocabularies. The house is located on Lot 14 of Block B of Chevy Chase Section 7. The lot faces on Broad Branch Road and borders Western Avenue. Lot 15 is part of the Warren property and lays behind the house, fronting on Western Avenue. The house was associated with the John P. Stone family for 40 years; it is a fine, little altered example of architecture of the period.
Early History 1725-1895
The Martenet and Bond map published in 1865 shows the location of all the landowners in Montgomery County. The property owned by "O. Sanneman" is shown just north of the junction of Broad Run Road and Brookeville Road. Ottmar Sonnemann and his brother Frederick were natives of Germany who came to the United States in 1849. They operated a dairy farm near Tennallytown in Washington County, D.C. (1). The portion of land on which the present Warren house is located was part of a 15 acre parcel purchased by Mr. Sonnemann in 1856 for $2,500. This price included an improvement, probably a farmhouse that is shown on the map. Mr. Sonnemann's deed locates the whole property as "Laying southeast side of public road leading from Jones Bridge to Georgetown," i.e., Brookville Road. "Beginning at a stone marked with a cross which intersection is drilled with a piece of lead" (2).
This 15 acres was located on part of the land granted by Lord Baltimore to Joseph Belt in 1725, which Belt named "Chevie Chace". The name is taken from "The Ballad of Cheviot Chase", and was based on a well known 1338 border incident in Scotland. Like many of the earliest landowners in this part of (then) Prince George's County, Col. Belt was a Scot (3). Parts of "Chevy Chase" were owned by the Belts for nearly 200 years, but Mr. Sonnemann did not purchase his small tract of land from the Belt heirs, but rather from another prominent Scottish family, the Dunlops.
The Dunlops were the owners of a pre-Revolutionary era estate called "Hays". Built in 1760 by the Rector of the Anglican Church, Hays was located at or near Jones Mill/Jones Bridge, today site of Columbia Columbia Club. The Dunlop land extended, in scattered parcels, nearly 2 miles south to include this part of "Chevy Chase". The Dunlops intermarried with the other political and mercantile families of Georgetown and Montgomery County, and maintained their position and lands over many generations.
At the time of Mr. Sonnemann's purchase in 1856 this piece of property was part of Nancy Parker's inheritance from the estate of Henrietta Dunlop. The road mentioned in the deed is Brookeville Road, which began near Tennallytown and meandered northeast to a junction with the Colesville to Brookeville Turnpike (Georgia Avenue). Brookeville was one of the earliest towns in Montgomery County, laid out in 1794. It still has claim to being "Capital for a Day" when it became the center of government for the U.S. in August, 1813. President Madison and his wife Dolly took refuge there after the burning of Washington and the President's House by the British. Some sources state the other government officials also fled to the estate of Postmaster General Abraham Bradley located on part of "Chevy Chase", just west of the Brookeville Road. The Bradley's would have been Sonnemann's nearest neighbors- in 1856. The Brookeville Road, though narrow, winding, and dusty was a main artery and Sonnemann's place may have been a combination farmhouse/store, a convenient stopping place for travelers, although it was not a licensed- inn or tavern.
Broad Branch Road which fronts on the Warren house was also in existence in 1856. It began at Rock Creek (near today's zoo) and followed the circuitous route laid down by the creek or branch called Broad Run. Parts of this road are now under Nevada Avenue (4).
There was, of course, no Connecticut Avenue; no Western Avenue, nor even any Military Road which was constructed during the Civil War (5). Mr. Sonnemann's land slightly overlapped the boundary between Montgomery County and Washington County of the District of Columbia. The boundary around the District was marked by a series of stone pillars erected in 1792 at one mile intervals. The Sonnemann land lays between marker #7 which was 3 miles from the Potomac and marker #8 located at (now) Pinehurst Circle. The attached photograph taken in 1906 illustrates the physical/topical features of this area, and its rural character at that late date and contemporary with the Warren house.
In the late 19th century this part of Montgomery County was still wooded ravines and open meadows, many miles from urban settlement.. The large farms shows on the 1878 Hopkins Atlas (attached) were still the rule. However the City of Washington was gradually creeping west, fueled by the wealth of the Gilded Age. New 'country" mansions and estates were extending Massachusetts Avenue and 16th Street development. Another segment of society, the upper middle class, were establishing enclaves of settlement in the suburbs springing up along the route of the Metropolitan Branch of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. But the B&O line which spurred development of Silver Spring, Kensington, Garrett Park and Rockville ran north of the Chevy Chase area. Transportation in this part of the county was still limited to the old, dusty roads, and no east-west link existed except the Military Road. The development of Bethesda and Chevy Chase was a result of speculation and construction associated with the construction of electric railroad (trolley) lines.
What we now think of as the Chevy Chase area, arose from the. imagination and wealth of real estate speculators who proposed to extend Connecticut Avenue past the city boundary, lay a trolley line the length of this wide boulevard, and to "build the finest suburb in America" along this trolley line (6).
Luckily realtor Col. George Armes was able to interest Nevada's Senator Sharon of the Comstode [i.e. Comstock] Lode fortune in his plan. Senator Sharon's son-in-law Francis Newlands (later also Senator from Nevada) joined in the ambitious scheme. Senator Sharon had already invested heavily in the creation of Dupont Circle, and recognized the potential of the suburban movement. The Chevy Chase Land Company was formed in 1887 and quietly began to buy up the farms along the proposed route of the trolley lines, amassing over 1,700 acres from 18th and U Streets, all the way to the Jones Bridge area around "Hays". The Rock Creek Railway was chartered in 1888 by the Land Company. To clear and grade Connecticut Avenue "seven miles to nowhere" required bridging the Rock Creek at both Klingle Street and Calvert Streets. The cost was nearly one million dollars, and included a. scenic lake at its terminus. Chevy . Chase Lake was planned as an enticement for prospective buyers to ride the trolley for a pleasant outing and view the area at the same time.
The Bradley estate was included in the "Chevy Chase" land bought by the syndicate. The mansion house became the headquarters of the Chevy Chase Hunt Club in 1892, and is now the site of the Chevy Chase Country Club. However, Mr. Sonnemann and his neighbor Henry Martin presumably realized that they, too could subdivide their lands for building sites to realize their own profit. Neither sold their holdings to the syndicate, and therefore, the eastern boundary of the Chevy Chase Land Company was Broad Branch Road.
By 1895 Chevy Chase was on the map, if not yet booming (7). The grandiose plans for the finest suburb in the country relied on the use of landscape design, architectural design and review by architect Leon Dessez , providing sewer/gas lines to residents, and strict controls against commercial encroachment. To maintain the appeal as an elite suburb for people of comfortable means, a covenant was included in the sales contracts that required houses;: fronting on Connecticut Avenue to cost at least $5,000; those on the side streets could be erected for $3,000, but architectural integrity was reviewed by Mr. Dessez. Only a handful of homes, mostly owned by directors of the Company had been built by 1896 when Mr. Sonnemann platted the first block of his own land for building lots. This one block was located on the south and east of his home and/or store between (now) Quincy Street and Primrose and remains Block A, Lot 1. In 1901 he replatted the entire 15 acres on three blocks. The site of 6301 Broad Branch Road became Lots 14 and 15 of Block B of Sonnemann's Addition to Chevy Chase (Montgomery County Plat Book 1, page 42).
Ottmar Sonnemann was 74 years of age when he died in 190+ leaving his widow Rebecca and 10 children. William Sonnemann and his wife Eugenie received this lot the same year. In 1904 they mortgaged the lot to the Bank of Washington for $3,000 to finance construction of the present Warren home, and it appears on the tax records at a valuation of $250 for each lot and $2,500 for the improvement.
6301 Broad Branch Road reflects a period of architectural transition; its scale, silhouette and ornament are a mixture of popular elements from older architectural styles and newly fashionable motifs. This new style was a departure from the horizontal sprawl and irregular silhouette of the Queen Anne style villas with their turrets and gingerbreaded verandahs. This house was designed to present the more compact, less flambouyant echoes of the homes of the by-gone colonial period. While this style of house is called Georgian Revival, these "Colonial style" houses of the early 20th century are not strict copies of Georgian architecture, but were meant to evoke an allusion to the earlier period styles by copying some details. Later "Colonial" houses became more correct, if less interesting, than early ones like this.
The Warren house is a variation of the Georgian Revival style commonly called "American Foursquare". It is one of the few indigenous American architectural forms and remained popular for 30 years or more. This house is a very large example, and its construction of brick with various shaped dormers is uncommon. The "Foursquare" look is evident in its over-all nearly square mass. Its front facade has five symmetrically ranked bays, and both entry and dormers are centered. Ornamentation is restrained and focused on the entry area, windows and porches. Interest is provided by the dormer shapes, contrast in texture and materials, and use of components from different architectural styles.
The house retains a little of the late Victorian styling and atmosphere with the width of its full length porch that wraps around the right side of the house until it reaches a shallow, projecting flank gable. The back side of this gable has small porches on both floors with porch supports of turned wooden spindles. These porches were a common feature in the days when the "service porch" was necessary as a place for the servants/householder to perform the messy and odoriferous kitchen tasks. In the days before piped water and sewage it housed the kitchen pump, icebox , cold storage and other kitchen related objects. The second floor porch opens off a bedroom. This small terrace porch serves not only to balance the square of the house, but provides another shady sitting place for pre-air conditioned houses. Gradually this bedroom porch idea would evolve (architecturally) into the healthful "sleeping porch" of the 1920's, and later still into the bedroom deck.
The most innovative feature incorporated into the design of this house is the wide overhanging eaves of the roof line, and the bands of shaped shingles that outline a band around this facade. This element of decoration is taken from Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie School designs, and show that the architect of Mr. Sonnemann's house was influenced by this current and novel architectural idea.
The Sonnemann house was constructed of brick with a horsehair mortar. The outer brick covering, is a facing of bricks laid in an all-stretcher course, with segmental arches over the windows (10). The large one-over-one windows of the front facade most likely once had the upper panes of the sash windows filled with a "colonial design." House pattern books of the period illustrated "-colonial type" windows with many small panes surrounding a large one; vertical mutins dividing the pane; or curved, tracery patterns like those present on one of the Sonnemann houses on Primrose Street. It is unlikely that the extant lattice-work sidelight would have been used alone.
The interior of the house has the wide, plain moulding of the period. The room described as an entrance hall in 1948 was probably open to include the stairwell. The staircase is not elaborate but has ornamental dropped pendants decorating the underside. The entrance hall would have been furnished as a comfortable room, not just as a formal reception area. The living and room were probably separated from the entrance hall, and were more formal areas that could be joined by opening the pocket or sliding door between. The living and dining rooms have corner fireplaces whose mantels and surrounds are ornamented garlands and swags in the Adamesque style of the early 18th century. Matching garland patters in plasterwork most likely outlined the overhead ceiling light fixtures (now gone).
The size and scale of this home, together with its decorative elements achieve the desired effect of the look of solid comfort,: reflecting both the good taste and the substantial means of its occupants. While some true mansions of 25 rooms or more, done in mock-Tudor or pillared neo-Classical styles were built on block long areas of Chevy Chase, the majority of the homes were consistent with the size and scale of the homes built for and by the Sonnemanns.
The heyday of building in Chevy Chase Village, and its reputation as a desirable suburban community did not take place until about 1910-1930. By 1907 Western Avenue had been cut through the woods south of the Sonnemann's house, and the property lost 24 feet frontage; the same year Connecticut Avenue was finished to the park at Chevy Chase Lake. In 1913 the Montgomery County Sentinel reported that private financing had paid for the improvement of the old Brookeville Road "From Chevy Chase to Jones Mill Road". 'The 2 miles of macadam paving laid over crushed stone "...was still muddy near Chevy Chase due to the many springs under it". Chevy Chase was incorporated as a Town in 1914. In that year itwas still possible to buy a 15 room house (built in 1899) with a block long lot for $25,000. In 1910 the William Sonnemann's sold their home on Broad Branch Road to John P. and Lelia (Hardesty) Stone. William and his wife moved to D.C., but by the time of Rebecca Sonnemann's death in 1917 William was the only one of the 10 children who was dead and his 1/10 share of his mother's estate passed to his son (11, 12).
Although commercial enterprises were prohibited within the Village, the Sonnemann's property was, of course exempt. Theodore Sonnemann and Son operated a country store on the site of his father's house. Built, of brick with the narrow end of the rectangular building facing Brookeville Road, it was a popular community store. The attached photographs are dated ca. 1920's and show the store, delivery wagon and horse carts (12).
These photographs were donated to the Chevy Chase Historical Society by Mrs. Chester Mills, a Sonnemann grandaughter. Her husband operated a hardware store in the rear of the building later, and the front part was leased to High's Dairy. The store building was demolished after a fire and is now the site of a small park.
Theodore Sonneman lived at 6309 Broad Branch Road, just three doors from the present Warren house. This gambrel roofed home with porte cochere occupied three lots. It was still owned by the Sonnemann's in 1959, although Theodore died in 1929.
The burgeoning population of the Chevy Chase and Bethesda suburbs began to impact on the whole of Montgomery County between 1915 and 1920. The demand for schools, water, electricity and roads for the new communities were more than the tax payers of the still rural upper county were willing to bear. To pay for all these amenities the County Commissioners regulated new taxing districts in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase communities. In 1923 Theodore Sonnemann replatted the old Sonnemann's Addition; it became Section 7 of Chevy Chase, and although some changes were made to lots and streets,--lots 8-16 of Block B were unchanged. (Montgomery County Plat Book 3, pl 259)
The Stone family lived at 6301 Broad Branch until the death of Lelia Stone in 1948. The description/inventory of her estate is attached. It shows a 12 room house and describes the rooms, including one room in the basement used as a beauty parlor. A two car, frame garage was located in part of Lot 15 behind the house. The Stone estate sold the house to John M. Eager for $18,750 (14).
From 1963 to 1972 the house changed hands three times (15). In 1972 it became the residence of journalist Nicholas P. Timesch who resided here until his death in 1985. The current owners purchased the property from his estate in 1986.
The house remains in nearly original condition, with the exception of enlargement/alteration to the kitchen area. It's appearance has changed little since William Sonneman built it in 1905, and its treed lot bordering the winding Broad Branch/Brookeville Road is a link to its 18th century beginnings.
Estate of Lelia Stone (1948) WCC 7/90
This real estate consists of one parcel of land improved by a dwelling and garage, these premises being known as 6301 Broad Branch Road, Chevy Chase in the 7th election district, Montgomery County, Maryland.
DESCRIPTION OF LAND:
Known as Lots 14, 15, Blk. B, Sec. 7, Chevy Chase (Sonneman) Subdivision, there is an area of approx. 14,407 sq. ft.
DESCRIPTION OF IMPROVEMENTS:
This detached, 2 1/2 story, brick dwelling has composition ,shingle roof and 2 porches. The full basement contains the coal H.W. heating plant, auto-gas H.W., toilet, laundry tubs, outside entrance, and one room used as a beauty parlor. The first floor has entrance hall, living room, dining room, kitchen and pantry. The second floor has 4 bedrooms and bath. The third floor has 4 smaller rooms and attic storage space. The exterior condition is Fair and the interior condition is Fair. The 2 car detached, frame garage has compo. shingle roof.
Neighborhood Classification: Good. Neighborhood Trend: Static.
We believe the value of the above described real estate at time of death was . . . . $18,750.00
We, the subscribers, do certify that the aforegoing is a true and just inventory and valuation of all the Real Estate belonging to the said Lelia A. Stone, deceased, within the State of Maryland, so far as the same has come to our knowledge, and as valued and appraised by us in dollars and cents, according to the best of our skill and judgment. In testimony of all of which we hereunto subscribe our names and affix our seal, this 2nd day of June, 1948.
Charles H. Klinck (SEAL)
Footnotes and Sources
1. "Tenley Town, D.C.: Country Village into City Neighborhood," Judith B. Helm, Washington D.C. Tennally Press, 1981. p. 180. Obituary for Ottmar Sonnemann, Montgomery County Sentinel, July 22, 1904
2. Montgomery County Land Records, Liber JGH 5, folio 241 (1856) An 1890 Equity Case Sonnemann v. Dunlop heirs documents Mr. Sonnemann's suit based on Nancy Parker's failure to release the $1,700 mortgage "long since paid"
3. General histories of Montgomery County and Montgomery County Story, "Col. Joseph Belt", Vol XII, No. 3 (1969)
4. Tenley Town, D.C. p. 363
5. Records of the Columbia Historical Society, Vol 10 (1907) pp 63-75
6. Thomas Robertson in Bethesda Record (1945) reprinted in "Bethesda Not So Old" as Chapters 21,22. Montgomery County Store, "Old Chevy Chase Village", Vol XIII, No.1 (1969)
7. Montgomery County Historical Society Collection of Plats/Maps Plats 9d, 9e, 9o. Shows land acquisitions, boundaries and covenants of Chevy Chase Land Company. The Company is still in existence, today owns Van Ness Center and other properties.
8. First Plat filed by O. Sonnemann is Plat 1/17 (1896)
9. Land Records, Liber TD 27, folio 141 and 179/142 and Tax Assessment Records
10. The covering of brick is a brick-facing, i.e., all the bricks are laid lengthwise. This would not provide a bond, which needs some bricks going the other way, or "headers". Brick bonding is described by the number of rows of "headers" in relationship to "stretchers".
11. Rebecca Sonnemann Will at Will Records H.C.A. 3, p. 3 (1917)
12. It is surprising that so few records exist within the Chevy Chase community records for the Sonnemann's, who were in the area over a century. But like, most "natives" they were ignored in favor of the more glamerous, wealthier suburbanites who may have considered the Sonnemann's farmers or shopkeepers, part of the scenery.
13. Theodore Sonnemann's store is a 20th century vernacular commercial type. Built of brick it was long and narrow and may have replaced the original structure there when Ottmar Sonnemann bought the property. Theodore Sonnemann Inventory of Estate at P.E.W 15//105 lists his properties as 6309 Broad Branch and 6500 Brookeville Road
14. Will Records, Description of House at W.C.C. 7/89 (1948)
15. The owners included Charles Crawford et ux (1963) Edward Kronfeld' (1964-1971) Enrique Valencia et ux (1972) Nicholas P. Timesch (1972-1985)