A Brief History of Strathmore
The Mansion at Strathmore is one of Maryland’s most gracious homes for the arts—a home first created on August 14, 1899 when prominent Washingtonian Captain James Frederick Oyster and his wife purchased the land and began to form the foundation of the mansion. Working under the guidance of architect Appleton P. Clark, Jr., the Oyster’s nine-bedroom summer home was constructed in a Colonial Revival style. The Oysters enjoyed their summer home until August 1908, at which time they sold the house and 99 acres to Charles I. Corby, a business professional who had patented machinery and techniques that would revolutionize the baking industry. After Charles Corby’s death in 1926, his wife, Hattie, remained in the residence until her death in October 1941. Land records show that on July 23, 1943 two parcels of the original Corby estate, including the mansion, were conveyed to St. Mary’s Academy, who developed the Corby mansion as a convent and school named St. Angela Hall. In April 1977, the Sisters sold the mansion and remaining 30 acres to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association for use as its headquarters.
The story of Strathmore as a destination for the arts begins in 1979, when ASHA relinquished the mansion and eleven acres of land to Montgomery County, Maryland. Shortly thereafter, the house was renamed Strathmore Hall and an agreement was made with the newly created Strathmore Hall Foundation, Incorporated to develop the mansion and grounds as Montgomery County’s first center for the arts. After extensive restoration, Strathmore opened its doors to the public in 1983.
In 1988, Strathmore dedicated its Gudelsky Gazebo to celebrate its fifth anniversary. This classically-styled six-column, copper-roofed structure can hold up to 30 musicians for outdoor concerts. More renovations of the mansion in 1997 added a new state-of-the-art gallery, an expanded gift shop and an improved mansion exterior.
Over the past 25 years under the visionary leadership of President & CEO Eliot Pfanstiehl, Strathmore has hosted more than 5,000 artists and hundreds of thousands of guests at its signature exhibitions, concerts, teas, educational events and outdoor festivals. The Mansion currently consists of the 100-seat Dorothy M. and Maurice C. Shapiro Music Room, the Strathmore Tea Room, the Shop at Strathmore, the Gudelsky Concert Pavilion and Gazebo, and the first floor galleries and Gudelsky Gallery Suite for Strathmore Fine Art.
In April of 2001, a long-time dream was realized when Strathmore broke ground on a new 1,976-seat concert hall and education center—the Music Center at Strathmore. Supported by a public and private venture between the State of Maryland, Montgomery County, and corporate and individual philanthropists, the Music Center at Strathmore boasts unprecedented partnerships between Strathmore, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Washington Performing Arts Society, National Philharmonic, Levine School of Music, CityDance Ensemble and Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras.
Architects William Rawn Associates Architects, Inc., acousticians Kirkegaard Associates, theater designers Theatre Project Consultants—the same team that designed Seiji Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood for the Boston Symphony Orchestra—and associate architects Grimm & Parker of Calverton, Maryland, joined together to create a 1,976-seat concert space that is warm, embracing and acoustically superb.
Strathmore continues its mission of nurturing art, artists and community through creative and diverse programming of the highest quality in the Music Center at Strathmore, a 1,976-seat concert hall and education complex.