the Hotel Era

Earlier in the 1800's, land speculators had invested in land in the Maryland countryside in hopes of subdividing and promoting it. In the mid-1880's land boom, the idea resurfaced.

A group of men led by Seymour Tullock formed the Forest Glen Improvement Company, and acquired a portion of the Highlands tract from Alfred Ray. Their plan was to build a resort hotel that would attract people from Washington during the muggiest months of the summer to a cooler and less humid spot. Once they were enjoying the hotel and its surroundings, they would be shown lots in the adjacent neighborhood of Forest Glen Park (which was also developed by the Company). Tullock built a grand house, which he called Braemar, as a summer home for himself and his family. Braemar was supposed to be a model home (although nothing that grand was ever built in the neighborhood again).

They picked an up-and-coming young architect to design the hotel. T.F. Schneider was only 27 years old at the time, but he had already designed the Cairo Hotel and some row houses in D.C. The Inn opened on June 1, 1887.

the Forest Inn as originally built

The venture was not a success. It was too hard to get to from D.C., and those who boarded a train to escape the Washington summers kept going to points further west in Maryland. Finally, the real estate boom began to subside, and there was a stock market crash. The promoters had one last change of plan to keep the venture afloat -- they turned it into a casino, with gambling and bars. They installed a boiler to give year-round comfort. All that still did not stimulate business enough.

By chance, T.F. Schneider and his new wife, Mary, ran into John and Vesta Cassedy on a steamship from Norfolk to D.C. Mary Osborne Beach had been a student at Lasell Seminary before she was married, and knew the Cassedys from there. As they talked, the Cassedys shared their vision of establishing a new girls' school in a suburban location. Schneider talked about the Inn he had developed and the troubles it was having. They vowed to keep in touch.


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This page was last maintained on 05/21/98.