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Historic Potomac Home Goes on the Market

The house’s origins date back to late 1700s, say owners.

Adam Garfinkle and Scilla Taylor say their Potomac home likely began as a log cabin in the late 1700s.

Adam Garfinkle and Scilla Taylor say their Potomac home likely began as a log cabin in the late 1700s. Photo courtesy of Long and Foster

Adam Garfinkle and Scilla Taylor are aficionados of historical architecture, particularly when it comes to their homes. They enjoy restoring and uncovering the hidden stories of bygone eras, and they found a wealth of inspiration in their Potomac home at 9901 Glen Road.

“The house evolved in several stages,” said Garfinkle. “It began, probably in the 1780s or 1790s, as a log cabin built next to what had been an Indian trail [known as Glen Road today]. We have found rock hand-axes in the yard.”

After living in the four-bedroom, three-bath home for nearly 14 years, Garfinkle and Taylor are selling it and relocating to an abode steeped in even more history.

“We're headed toward our mid-60s, and we're pretty much beyond any of our children living at home and attending the area's schools,” said Garfinkle. “We still love the house, but we don't need it as we used to need it. Now we've found an even older house, nearer to work that will serve as an endless source of projects. If we didn't fall upon the new home we would have loved continuing to live at 9901.”

Garfinkle now works as editor of The American Interest magazine. and Taylor serves as director of Brookside Nature Center.

Garfinkle and Taylor relocated to Potomac from Philadelphia, where they also enjoyed owning historic homes. “We were attracted to the house by its unique qualities, its history, its spaciousness, its rich wooden surfaces throughout, and the remarkable plantings that … began some 75 years ago,” said Taylor. “We have a significant black walnut tree in the yard, as well as a huge hickory, an oak and some very old boxwoods.”

“It … reminded my wife of her favorite uncle's home in Saco, Maine,” said Garfinkle. “It was a house whose history spoke to us.”

The couple immersed themselves in learning about the home’s rich past. “The original builder and occupant was most likely black, perhaps a free black, more likely a slave,” said Garfinkle. “In the 1870s the house was expanded into a farmhouse.”

Electricity and indoor plumbing were added. “At some point in the first half of the 20th century, however, the house was abandoned and fell into disrepair,” said Garfinkle. “It was purchased, along with the associated 90 acres that today make up the Country Place neighborhood in 1946 by the Gregor [family]. As they were repairing the property some years later they broke though the plaster in the original structure and discovered the chestnut logs, with hand adze marks, of the original log cabin.”

Garfinkle and Taylor said that among the home’s most significant assets are its historical depth and its abundance of “quirky nooks and crannies.”

“This is one of the greatest hide-and-go-seek houses ever,” said. Taylor. “Children love it. Because the house has mature native trees it is a mecca for wildlife. Sitting out in the yard in June and July is magical with the lightning bugs, and at night it's not uncommon to see flying squirrels glide between the hickory and walnut trees.”

“I’ve sold this home twice,” said Coreta Osborne of the Potomac Village office of Long and Foster. “It is close to public transportation and great schools.”

Garfinkle and Taylor enjoy the home’s close proximity to outdoor activities. “There is a nature trail along Watts Branch just down the street,” said Garfinkle. “Of course, the house is also only five miles from Great Falls National Park, which we have visited many, many times.”

“I'm sure there are many stories the house holds secret,” said Taylor, “But that's the fun of raising a family here: you can make up stories about who hid what in the floorboards that lift up to hide things from mysterious visitors.”

The house sits on about a third of an acre, and is priced at $849,000.