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2017 Tour of Historic Seneca Maryland

October 22, 2017 @ 10:00 am - 5:00 pm EDT

Knight Kiplinger welcomes the Historical Society to his home, Montevideo, for this exclusive tour. And joining us for the day is historian Garrett Peck, author of The Smithsonian Castle and the Seneca Quarry and The Potomac River: A History and Guide.

In the 19th century, Montgomery County, Maryland was the key “breadbasket” for the nation’s young capital, providing food and raw materials for the growing city from its abundant farms. Many of those products flowed from the west into Washington along the C&O Canal, which started to push west from Georgetown in 1828. No community illustrates this close relationship between Washington and Montgomery County better than the canal and milling town of Seneca.

Located along the Seneca Creek at the mouth of the Potomac, Seneca is located just 20 miles from the D.C. line. Much of Seneca’s farmland was owned by the Thomas Peter family of Tudor Place in Georgetown, whose 11,000 total acres made them the largest landowners in Montgomery County. The Peter family also owned the red sandstone quarry and stone-cutting mill in Seneca, which provided fine building stone for the Smithsonian Institution, the Renwick Gallery and many other great churches, homes and public buildings in Washington, D.C., including Montevideo.

This tour includes stops at:

  • Montevideo, the 1830 home of John Parke Custis Peter, who grew up at Tudor Place and ran the quarry and stone mill;
  • the Peter family cemetery, the burial site of Thomas Peter of Tudor Place and his wife, Martha Custis Peter, granddaughter of Martha Washington;
  • the 1865 Seneca Schoolhouse, the oldest and best-preserved one-room schoolhouse in the county;
  • Riley’s Lock House, with tours by local Girl Scouts;
  • the ruins of the stone-cutting mill; and
  • the 1870 Rocklands Farm and winery, a fine example of Italianate architecture built of finely cut Seneca sandstone.

At Seneca Schoolhouse, members will learn about the history of the schoolhouse and a description of their living history field trip program, get an overview of the classroom, and take part in a spelling bee. While at Montevideo, members will enjoy a fresh Farmer’s lunch provided by Plow and Stars Farm. After a Girl Scout-led tour of the lockhouse at Riley’s Lock, the group will visit the abandoned Seneca quarry, the site that provided the distinctly rusty red sandstone for the Smithsonian Castle and hundreds of buildings in the Washington, D.C. area. Historian Garrett Peck will lead the group on an hour-long excursion of quarry-related sites, including Seneca Aqueduct, the C&O Canal turning basin, the Seneca stonecutting mill, and the Lafayette Square fence piers.

The tour concludes at Rocklands Farm for a wine tasting. The group will also have the opportunity to buy organic vegetables, fruit, eggs, and pasture-raised meat. Produce from the farm at Montevideo will also be for sale at Rocklands.

BUS DEPARTS FROM 555 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE NW AT 10:00 A.M., please arrive at the Newseum Pennsylvania Avenue entrance by 9:45 a.m. to be checked in and ready to board the bus. The bus will return to the same location at 5:00 p.m.


October 22, 2017
10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Program Category:


Seneca, MD 20874 United States


Historical Society of Washington, D.C.