Josiah Henson Historic Park (P871552)

  • Category: M-NCPPC
  • Sub Category: Development
  • Administering Agency: M-NCPPC (AAGE13)
  • Planning Area: Cabin John
  • Date Last Modified: 3/6/14
  • Required Adequate Public Facility: No
  • Relocation Impact: None
  • Status: Preliminary Design Stage





The 2.1 acre park is located at 11420 Old Georgetown Road in North Bethesda. The purpose of the project is to rehabilitate the existing Josiah Henson Park. The project includes converting the historic Riley/Bolten House to a public museum; constructing a new visitor orientation center, new bus-drop off area and small parking lot; and new landscape sitework that will make the park more accessible for visitors.


11420 Old Georgetown Road, North Bethesda MD 20852

Estimated Schedule

Design in FY16-17; construction in FY18 through FY21.


Montgomery County Master Plan for Historic Preservation, 1979, identified the property as Resource #30/6, "Uncle Tom's Cabin". The park name was changed to Josiah Henson Special Park with the Approved Park Master Plan, December 2010, but was subsequently changed to Josiah Henson Historic Park in September 2013. Also cited in the Approved and Adopted White Flint Sector Plan, April 2010; and the 2012 Park Recreation and Open Space (PROS) Plan, July 2012; MCPB approved Facility Plan, June 2013.


The museum's exhibit storyline will focus on the first-person narrative of Josiah Henson, a former slave who escaped from the Riley Plantation to freedom in Canada and whose autobiographical life story inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe to write her world-famous novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin. This project seeks to make the house and park a destination for historic education and international tourism and tie the story of slavery to the Montgomery County Public School's Social Studies curriculum. The historic house will not be a traditional house museum with furnished rooms, but a more experiential and interactive place, with exhibits not only in the house but outside along the path and grounds. Docent tours will still be provided.

Fiscal Note

The project budget was approved by the Planning Board to fund three of four major components of the project work: rehabilitation of the historic house, new visitor center building, and new and rehabilitated sitework. The fourth component installs exhibits in the historic house, visitor center and outdoor landscape. The exhibits will be funded by a $2 million Montgomery Park Foundation Capital Campaign.


A pedestrian impact analysis has been completed for this project. M-NCPPC (A13) asserts that this project conforms to the requirements of relevant local plans, as required by the Maryland Economic Growth, Resource Protection and Planning Act.


Montgomery County Departments: Recreation, Permitting Services, Fire/Rescue, Transportation; State Highway Administration; WSSC; WMATA