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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Silver Spring in Montgomery County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Silver Spring Shopping Center

 
 
Silver Spring Shopping Center Marker image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, June 22, 2014
1. Silver Spring Shopping Center Marker
Inscription. Silver Spring's heyday as a commercial center began in 1938 with the opening of the Silver Theatre and Shopping complex, designed by John Eberson. These streamlined buildings housed a wide variety of shops, as well as a 1,100 seat movie theatre, and were among the first in the region that were built to accommodate the use of automobiles.

Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, the county's population exploded and Silver Spring grew into a major shopping district with large department stores like Hecht's, J.C. Penney's and Jelleff's. The monumental growth made Silver Spring not only a major suburban community, but also an important economic center for the entire state.
 
Location. 38° 59.37′ N, 77° 1.733′ W. Marker is in Silver Spring, Maryland, in Montgomery County. Marker is on Newell Street. Click for map. Marker is in Acron Park on the Wall of the Discovery Communications Building, formerly Caldor. Marker is at or near this postal address: 8060 Newell Street, Silver Spring MD 20910, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Silver Spring Armory 1914 (a few steps from this marker); The Silver Spring (a few steps from this marker); Silver Spring B & O Railroad Station
Silver Spring Shopping Center Marker image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, June 22, 2014
2. Silver Spring Shopping Center Marker
(a few steps from this marker); The Community of Silver Spring (within shouting distance of this marker); Early's Raid on Washington (within shouting distance of this marker); Blair House (within shouting distance of this marker); Canada Dry Building (within shouting distance of this marker); Blair Mansion: Silver Spring / Blair Station Post Office (within shouting distance of this marker). Click for a list of all markers in Silver Spring.
 
Categories. Industry & Commerce
 
Silver Spring Shopping Center image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, November 17, 2004
3. Silver Spring Shopping Center
Close-up of Mural by Mame Cohalon.
Silver Spring Shopping Center image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, October 6, 2012
4. Silver Spring Shopping Center
The Silver Theater image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, October 5, 2013
5. The Silver Theater
The Silver Theater now belongs to the American Film Institute (AFI).
John Eberson image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, October 5, 2013
6. John Eberson
from a display in the Silver Spring Shopping Center
Silver Spring Shopping Center, 1946 Postcard image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, October 5, 2013
7. Silver Spring Shopping Center, 1946 Postcard
Teich Postcard from a display in the Silver Spring Shopping Center
Silver Spring Shopping Center Sign image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, October 5, 2013
8. Silver Spring Shopping Center Sign
The 1938 Silver Theatre and Silver Spring Shopping Center complex is a landmark of early 20th-century commercial architecture. It profoundly affected the development of suburban Silver Spring as well as helped shape the growth of the region. It also stands as an early example of a trend that would change the way in which Americans experience entertainment and shopping.

Eight years prior to opening of the theater and center, the first modern "shopping center" that combined a parking lot fronting a street with a planned mix of commercial tenants was opened on Connecticut Avenue in Washington's Cleveland Park. Known as the "Park-and-Shop," it was a spectacular success, inspiring the construction of a number of similar neighborhood shopping centers throughout the region.

In 1936, local realtors C.H. Hillegeist, Albert Small, and S.E. Godden optioned land on the corner of Georgia Avenue and Colesville Road for a new theater and shopping center. The following year, William Alexander Julian, a wealthy manufacturer and Treasurer of the United States, developed the site. Julian recruited his close friend, John Eberson of New York, to design the complex.

Eberson, known as the "Dean of American Theater Architects," designed over 40 movie theaters during his life as well as numerous other buildings. Born in Romania, he studied architecture in Vienna, Austria, before moving to the United States. This is one of only a few theaters he designed to be associated with a shopping center.

Construction began in March 1938 and was completed by September. For the formal opening on October 27, The Washington Post ran a special section that touted the shopping center as Designed to Serve Needs of 50,000," as well as its planning for the future of Washington's urbanization. The event was attended by 6,000 people, including Washington Senators' baseball legend Walter Johnson who remarked that the scene "reminds me of Broadway."

However, by the 1970s downtown Silver Spring began to fall behind as new shopping and entertainment areas were created further out. The battle to preserve the Silver Theatre and Silver Spring Shopping Center complex was launched by the Art Deco Society of Washington in 1984. The Society was supported by Allied Civic Group, Montgomery Civic Federation, Silver Spring Historical Society, and many local neighborhood and civic organizations. A decade later, the Montgomery County Council voted unanimously to add the Silver Theatre-Silver Spring Shopping Center to the county's historic preservation master plan.

In 1996, Montgomery County acquired the theater and shopping center. In April 1998, PFA Silver Spring LLC agreed to redevelop the Silver Spring Shopping Center as part of extensive new development that included a multiplex cinema, shops, offices, and a hotel. As part of the preservation effort, the county entered into an agreement with the Maryland Historical Trust to protect the facade of the shopping center. The Silver Spring Shopping Center re-opened in May 2004.

Silver Spring's new downtown center reflects a strong public/private effol1 to preserve the past as a gift to the future, by once again setting the trend in how Americans experience entertainment and shopping.
Cohalon Murals image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, June 22, 2014
9. Cohalon Murals
on the wall of the Discovery Building
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. This page has been viewed 265 times since then and 24 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. submitted on , by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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