Celebrate Black History Month at Josiah Henson Special Park

NORTH BETHESDA, MD— Take “A Walk in Father Henson’s Footsteps” as M-NCPPC, Montgomery Parks offers free tours and a spoken word poetry event to celebrate Black History Month at Josiah Henson Special Park, 11420 Old Georgetown Road.

Learn about the extraordinary life of Reverend Josiah Henson, whose autobiography inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe’s famous novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, during FREE guided tours of the Josiah Henson Special Park. Tours will be offered each Saturday, February 4, 11, and 18 between 12:00 noon and 4:00 pm. On Saturday, February 25 tours will be offered between 12:00 noon and 3:00 pm. Visitors will also retrace the footsteps of Reverend Henson from enslavement to escape on the Underground Railroad to freedom in Canada, and walk the grounds where Henson toiled as a slave on the Isaac Riley plantation.

“Reverend Josiah Henson was an extraordinary man,” said Shirl Spicer, Museum Manger for M-NCPPC, Montgomery Parks. “He was a slave, a preacher, an Underground Railroad fugitive and conductor, an entrepreneur; an author…the list goes on and on. This tour will be a fantastic way for children, adults and groups of all ages to learn about Josiah Henson and Montgomery County’s rich African American heritage.”

The Department of Parks will close out its Black History Month celebration at Josiah Henson Special Park on Saturday, February 25, from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm with a special poetry event, “Lyrical Rhythms: The Sounds of Freedom.” Tours will not be conducted during the event.

Poets are invited to create their own “sounds of freedom” in the form of original poetry focused on any of the following themes: slavery, freedom, Underground Railroad, Reverend Josiah Henson, “Uncle Tom,” Civil War, or any other topics related to the African American experience. During the event, poets will read their original works. A reception with light refreshments will immediately follow.

For more on these upcoming events and volunteering, see www.JosiahHensonSite.org or call M-NCPPC, Montgomery Parks Museum Manager Shirl Spicer at 301-650-4373.

Update of Josiah Henson Renovation Project

Did you know the Pike District/White Flint area is the home of an important and fascinating piece of our nation’s history?

Josiah Henson Park is the former plantation property of Isaac Riley where Reverend Josiah Henson was enslaved. This park is a historic resource of local, state, national and international significance because of its association with Reverend Henson, whose 1849 autobiography, The Life of Josiah Henson, Formerly a Slave, Now an Inhabitant of Canada inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe’s landmark novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The Park contains the historic Riley/Bolten House (1800-1815) and its attached log kitchen (1850-51). The Josiah Henson Park is part of the National Park Service National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom program.

The Josiah Henson Park is a 3.34-acre park located at 11420 Old Georgetown Road in the Luxmanor Community of North Bethesda. The goal of the current renovation project is to create a museum dedicated to telling the story of resilience and perseverance in overcoming slavery, based on the detailed words and experiences of Josiah Henson – enslaved in Montgomery County for much of his life.  The museum will reopen later this year.

The renovation project, now under construction, includes:

  • the conversion of the historic Riley/Bolten House into a public museum,
  • the construction of a new 2,900 SF visitor center with a bus-drop off the area and a three-car parking lot on the former Rozier property, and
  • the installation of exhibits that educate and interpret African American History in Montgomery County, including a first-person narrative of Josiah Henson.

Josiah Henson in the News

Josiah Henson Park is one of the most important historical sites in the White Flint area. And Josiah Henson has been in the news lately.

First, the new Henson biography, Sharp Flashes of Lightning Come from Black Clouds: The Life of Josiah Hensonauthored by Montgomery Parks senior historian, Jamie Ferguson Kuhns – is now available! You can order copies online (www.JosiahHensonSite.org)

Maryland Public Television recently aired the new Henson documentary (now titled, “Redeeming Uncle Tom: The Josiah Henson Story”) that premiered last summer at AFI Theatre. It is now available for viewing online at: http://www.mpt.org/info/redeeminguncletom/

There was also a short companion interview, “The Dig: Josiah Henson” that expounds a bit on Henson’s connection to Stowe’s Uncle Tom, also available online at: https://video.mpt.tv/video/the-dig-josiah-henson-boobtu/

County Executive’s CIP Budget Released

The CIP Budget is Montgomery County’s Capital Budget. We’ve been studying the CIP budget and talking with county officials about the CIP budget since it was released a few days ago. You can read the budget details here. Below are some of the parts of the CIP that most affect the White Flint area.

One of the first things to notice about the budget is that it eliminates funds for the second White Flint metro entrance. Funding was shifted to beyond the six year period due to affordability and the intention to pursue WMATA funding,

The plan also eliminates funding for Montrose Parkway East. Costs to construct the previously approved project have been eliminated and planning funds have been added to evaluate less costly alternative options for addressing safety and congestion concerns.

The CIP includes funding for a new five bay Fire and Rescue Station in the Rockville/White Flint area and the purchase of associated apparatus. The new facility will be located on an acquired site at the south-east quadrant of Route 355 and Randolph Road, Space has been added to co-locate a future Police Substation at the fire station

The Josiah Henson Park project received funding to rehabilitate the existing Josiah Henson Park and create a heritage tourism destination. The project includes converting the historic Riley/Bolten House to a public museum; constructing a new 2.900 square foot visitor center with bus-drop off area and five-car parking lot on the former Rozier property; and new landscape sitework and outdoor interpretation that will make the park more accessible for visitors and convey its former appearance as a plantation.

Finally, funding for the Wall Park garage was pushed back, too.

Stay tuned as we delve further into the CIP and determine our advocacy plan. Please share your thoughts on the County Executive’s CIP Budget with us at info@whiteflint.org.

Mark your calendar — Community Meeting January 10th!

Join the folks from our local historical treasure, Josiah Henson Park, on Wednesday, January 10th at 7 pm at Luxmanor Elementary. Friends of White Flint and Montgomery Parks are holding a joint community meeting so you will have a chance to learn more about Josiah Henson, this facility, and their plans for the future.

Josiah Henson Park is the former plantation property where Reverend Josiah Henson was enslaved. This park is a historic resource of local, state, national and international significance because of its association with Reverend Henson, whose 1849 autobiography, The Life of Josiah Henson, Formerly a Slave, Now an Inhabitant of Canada inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe’s landmark novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Learn about Josiah Henson Park Wed. January 10th

Join the folks from our local historical treasure, Josiah Henson Park, on Wednesday, January 10th at 7 pm at Luxmanor Elementary. Friends of White Flint and Montgomery Parks are holding a joint community meeting so you will have a chance to learn more about Josiah Henson, this facility, and their plans for the future.

Josiah Henson Park is the former plantation property where Reverend Josiah Henson was enslaved. This park is a historic resource of local, state, national and international significance because of its association with Reverend Henson, whose 1849 autobiography, The Life of Josiah Henson, Formerly a Slave, Now an Inhabitant of Canada inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe’s landmark novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin.