A Home for the Arts
Built in 1899, the Mansion at Strathmore is home to intimate artistic programs presented by Strathmore including our Music in the Mansion and Artist in Residence concert series. Visitors can also explore our galleries and current exhibitions, indulge in Afternoon Tea, stroll through the sculpture gardens, and find a special something at the Shop at Strathmore.
Read on to trace the history of the Mansion at Strathmore, from its turn-of-the-century roots as a grand summer estate to its transformation into a spirited arts center.
History of the Land
Lord Baltimore granted Thomas Brooke, Jr. the land where Strathmore is now located. Ownership and usage of the land is not well-known until 1823 when a toll road was built to connect Georgetown and Frederick. One of the road’s tollgates was near the intersection now known as Strathmore Avenue. As shown on an 1879 map, local landowner Frank Ball operated a stagecoach station and blacksmith shop on his farm at this location.
The Oyster Years
Prominent Washingtonians Captain James Frederick and Emma Oyster purchased the property in 1899. Architect Appleton P. Clark, Jr. designed their 9-bedroom summer house in the Colonial Revival style. In 1902, the Washington Evening Star described the Mansion as “one of the handsomest summer homes near Washington.”
The Corby Years
In 1908, The Oysters sold the house and 99 adjoining acres to Charles and Hattie Corby. The Corby family enjoyed the house as a summer retreat until 1912, when they contracted Charles Barton Keen to make extensive modifications. Newly wrapped in its brick Georgian façade, the Mansion became the Corby Family’s permanent residence in 1914.
Over the years, the Corby family acquired adjoining parcels of land until the Mansion was surrounded by 2,560 acres—including areas now occupied by Garrett Park Estates, the Grosvenor-Strathmore Metro station, and Holy Cross Academy. Known to locals as the “Corby Farm,” the grounds had a fully operational dairy farm, greenhouse complex, private golf course, and many other outbuildings. After Charles’ passing in 1926, Hattie Corby remained in the residence until she passed away in 1941.
War Center, Convent & More
In 1942, Filipino president Manuel L. Quezon used the Mansion to set up temporary governmental headquarters and World War II operations for the former Commonwealth of the Philippines.
Land records show that in 1943, two parcels of the original Corby estate—including the Mansion—were conveyed to the sisters directing St. Mary’s Academy. The sisters converted the Mansion into a convent and school, Saint Angela Hall.
Having constructed new schools and residences nearby, the sisters sold the Mansion and its remaining 30 acres to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) in 1977 for use as its temporary headquarters.
In 1979, Montgomery County, Maryland acquired the Mansion and 11 acres of land from ASHA. The house was renamed Strathmore Hall, after the newly established nonprofit, and the Mansion with its surrounding grounds were developed as Montgomery County’s first center for the arts. After extensive restoration, the Mansion at Strathmore opened its doors to the public on June 24, 1983.
Dedicated to the Arts
Strathmore quickly established itself as an important new cultural resource—not just for Montgomery County, but for the entire Metro DC region. The Mansion was bustling with energy and many of Strathmore’s most enduring offerings—including intimate concerts in the Music Room, Afternoon Tea, visual arts exhibitions, and wedding venue—began during this time.
In 1996, the Mansion closed for a $3.2 million renovation that created the Gudelsky Gallery Suite, and a 4-story addition that houses the Lockheed Martin Conference Room, an expanded Shop at Strathmore, and new administrative offices. In addition to exterior improvements, the renovation saw the addition of a sculpture garden, which features pieces along a path winding through 11 acres of landscaped grounds.
Over the years Strathmore has continued to expand both its venues and offerings, presenting and producing exemplary visual and performing arts programs for diverse audiences; creating dynamic arts education experiences; and nurturing creative ideas and conversations that advance the future of the arts.
Today, the organization’s hallmark is the Music Center at Strathmore, with a 1,976-seat concert hall and education complex that debuted in 2005. In 2015, Strathmore opened AMP, a 230-seat cabaret-style venue located just up Rockville Pike from the core campus in the burgeoning Pike District of Montgomery County.
Strathmore is dedicated to creating a vibrant arts community that welcomes everyone. Therefore, in 2016, the Bloom initiative was formalized to serve Montgomery County’s schools, community centers, parks, retirement communities, and more.
PROTECT THE ARTS
While our stages may be dark, our core commitment to you—and to our artists, students, and teachers—does not change. Together, we will nourish the creative soul of our community.