Skip to content
About the CJCA
News & Photos
Calendar of Activities
Team Trivia Night
Spring Egg Hunt
New Neighbor Potluck
July 4th Parade & Festival
Potomac River Canoe Trip
Chicken & Crab Feast
Community Service & Outreach
Block Coordinator Program
Holiday Giving Tree Project
MacArthur Blvd. Beautification
Moses Hall & Cemetery Preservation
Neighbor 2 Neighbor
New Neighbor Initiatives
Support CJCA ($)
Listservs of CJ
Contact Information for Government Officials
Fill out my
Fill out my Wufoo form!
Moses Cemetery and Hall Placed on Most Endangered Historic Places List
June 27, 2021
Cabin John’s rich history was recognized at the national level this month when the National Trust for Historic Preservation announced their selection of the Morningstar Tabernacle No. 88 Order of Moses Cemetery and Hall site as one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places of 2021. “Saving the Morningstar Moses Cemetery and Hall site is how we make good on promises to expand our infrastructure in an equitable way without further destruction of communities of color,” said Katherine Malone-France, Chief Preservation Officer, National Trust for Historic Preservation on announcing the list June 3. In referencing the original Beltway construction in the 1960s, Malone-France went on to note that “past disregard for the heritage of the community of Gibson Grove in transportation projects has already resulted in the loss of an important part of our full American story. This endangered listing challenges us to do the right thing today as we expand our infrastructure, so there will be no additional wrong to correct in the future, and it also calls attention to the threats facing African American cemeteries across the country.” Friends of Moses Hall, a coalition of neighbors, descendants, and others experienced in archaeology, genealogy, historic preservation, research, and advocacy have been working tirelessly to lead the effort to save this Cabin John treasure by advocating that any Beltway expansion avoid the cemetery and by working to preserve the site. Having the property recognized at the national level brings critical attention to this irreplaceable site and further supports these efforts. On May 12, the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) announced a new scaled-back version of its Beltway expansion plan. The new recommended preferred alternative (RPA) focuses solely on “building a new American Legion Bridge and delivering two high occupancy toll (HOT) managed lanes in each direction on Phase 1 South: American Legion Bridge I-270 to I-370 with no action at this time on I-495 east of the I-270 eastern spur,” according to MDOT. The new RPA will be the focus of a Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement anticipated to be published in September. The Supplemental DEIS will trigger a 45-day period for public comment, including a public hearing. The new RPA also has led to changes in the timeline for the National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 process for the project. Friends of Moses Hall, the CJCA, and other consulting parties have been told by the State Highway Administration (SHA) that they will update the limits of construction and development disturbance to reflect the new RPA as well as to include design minimization efforts on the historic Gibson Grove Church and Moses Cemetery and Hall properties. The state’s latest archaeological report on the cemetery site was released on May 25 and acknowledges that there is evidence of burials within or adjacent to the current Beltway right-of-way, warranting additional archaeological investigations and the incorporation of mitigation options, including the relocation of remains. Advocacy efforts by Friends of Moses Hall are not limited to saving the cemetery from ground disturbances at the site. The group believes the state is giving short shrift to environmental impacts and past racial injustice. This is an ongoing effort that will call on the SHA to right past wrongs. One very positive step for the community is the collective push from consulting parties and Montgomery County Planning for a pedestrian connection between the historic Gibson Grove Church building and the Moses Cemetery and Hall site. SHA has agreed to include a new sidewalk between the two resources as well as a widened path on the east side of Seven Locks, within the state right-of-way. Seven Locks is a county road, so any improvements outside the state right-of-way are the responsibility of Montgomery County. All of this is part of a broader effort to renew the physical connection between these historic properties. Perhaps a Gibson Grove Community historic district designation could be a reality one day? By Charlotte Troup Leighton CJCA Vice President for Advocacy ...
Community Approves CJ Sign Design
June 27, 2021
The community gave a literal thumbs up to the Cabin John sign design unveiled at the May 25 CJCA meeting—with the meeting held on Zoom, the 25 or so participants were asked to vote with their thumbs on screen. The design, created by CJ resident Jack Mandel of Carver Rd., was unanimously approved. Jack is a stone mason with a stonework design/build business. As Jack explained to meeting participants, the sign design incorporates the iconic Cabin John Bridge in two ways. One is the shape of the base, which has an arched opening similar in shape to the bridge. The other bridge element is that he has acquired a piece of the Seneca red sandstone that was left over from the bridge repairs done some 20 years ago. Additional sandstone that is the same color as the bridge will also be used. The rest of the base is likely to be made of local Carderock stone. To reflect the community’s love of nature, a planter will be built into the base under the archway. Meeting participants suggested that native species be planted there. After consultation with CJ’s historian Judy Welles, it was determined that the established date for Cabin John should be 1878, which is the year the first Cabin John postmaster was appointed. The CJCA acquired the original appointment certificate, dated March 18, 1878, last year. CJCA Vice President Greg Pawlson, chair of the sign committee, detailed next steps, including approval from the shopping center, county permitting, and a more detailed cost estimate. He also noted the goal of refurbishing and lighting the existing CJ sign at the community center and of posting simple metal Welcome to Historic Cabin John signs at the various entrances to the community. It could cost close to $20,000 for all of these sign efforts to come to fruition and that is with Jack donating his design services. CJCA President Susan Shipp explained the 100th anniversary fundraising efforts netted some $5,000 toward the sign project. She also believes the CJCA has the reserves to provide an additional $3,000. That means additional fundraising will be needed. If you would like to help with the fundraising, please contact Darla Cable at firstname.lastname@example.org or Susan Shipp at email@example.com. By Susan Shipp CJCA President ...
2021 CJCA Officers
June 27, 2021
At the May meeting, the community voted in the following Cabin John Citizens Association officers for a one-year term. As you can see from the list, there are still a couple of openings. Please consider serving your community by volunteering alongside these neighbors. For more information on the open positions, please contact Susan Shipp at firstname.lastname@example.org. CO-PRESIDENTS Susan Shipp and Vashti Van Wyke Serving together for one year as a transition after the pandemic. The CJCA will need new co-presidents in 2022. TREASURER Bob Walsh INTERIM SECRETARY Meredith Griggs Looking for a new secretary VICE PRESIDENT, ACTIVITIES Irena Bojanova VICE PRESIDENT, ACTIVITIES Kesha Leets VICE PRESIDENT, ADVOCACY Charlotte Troup Leighton VICE PRESIDENT, COMMUNICATIONS Marcy Harrison (Directory and website support) VICE PRESIDENT, COMMUNICATIONS VACANT (Manage email lists, send emails, and news stories) VICE PRESIDENT, COMMUNITY OUTREACH Stephanie Lai VICE PRESIDENT, COMMUNITY OUTREACH Heather Tomlinson VICE PRESIDENT, COMMUNITY SERVICE Justin Webster ...
Local Nature: The Tree with the Fringe on the Top
June 27, 2021
A glorious benefit of living in the tropics is the wide variety of trees and vines that delight the eye with explosions of vivid blossoms. Often these large showy flowers, designed to attract bees and other pollinators, cover all the branches or stems. Even the names of these trees are suggestive or mysterious: Golden rain tree, Golden Trumpet, Yellow Bells, Flamboyant, Flame of the Forest, African Tulip, Jacaranda, Coral Bean, Rosy Trumpet. These trees and their displays are even more spectacular when the flowers precede the flush of new leaves. In contrast, it is rare to find native trees in the temperate zone covered by clouds of flowers in the spring. For sure, there are the ornamental cherries at the Tidal Basin or planted in Kenwood, but those are imports. There is the ubiquitous redbud, but its flowers are tiny compared to the African Sausage tree. Trumpet creeper is an aggressive native climber and that counts, as does Catalpa. Our best native candidate for most spectacular flowering tree, however, is the White fringe tree, also known as the Virginia fringe tree. That species grows very well in our area but ranges north to New Jersey. There are even specimens found in New York City. But its stronghold is in the southeast to central Florida where every spring, adult fringe trees issue forth a seasonal wedding dress of lacy white fringy blossoms. Arborists tell us that the more sun the fringe tree receives the more prolific the flowering. When you drive by one in a car it is as if the wedding dress is suspended five feet above the ground minus only the bride. The four white petals of the blossoms are unusual in how thin they are. Masses of them, though, cover the crown of the tree before the tree fully leafs out in May. Male and female flowers typically occur on separate trees but sometimes on the same tree. On female trees, a bright blue fruit appears in the late summer or early fall and is devoured by the American robin. The fringe tree is a member of the olive family, with its characteristic four petals and opposite leaves, and the fruit is somewhat reminiscent of a blue olive. More familiar to us are green ash and white ash, which are also members of the olive family. And herein lurks a small concern. In the western part of its range, the fringe tree seems to be affected by the Emerald Ash Borer, a non-native jewel beetle from Asia that is finishing off our ash trees but so far has left the fringe trees alone. Experiments are underway with the introduction of a parasitic wasp from Russia that controls ash borer. The wasp burrows into the tree and lays its eggs on the ash borer larvae, killing them as its own wasp larvae feed on the host. The fringe tree is a little-known wonder, and in my opinion not planted enough. I see so many vacant (only grass front lawns) lots in our neighborhood, in full sun, where a well- placed Virginia fringe tree would bring decades of joy and an appreciative warble from the robins in the neighborhood. Do you want to beautify Cabin John? Easy, plant Chionanthes virginicus and amaze your neighbors. By Eric Dinerstein, Contributing Writer Illustration By Trudy Nicholson, Contributing Artist ...
Moses Hall Descendants Meet – Graves in Beltway Right-of-Way
May 21, 2021
When Pandora White was a young girl, her grandmother Mary White would march her and her siblings along a path in the woods that ran behind 19 Carver Rd. to the Moses lodge and cemetery where she would put them to work. They would either clean up the lodge for some adult function or a funeral or they would tidy up around the family graves. Pandora, 71, still lives on Carver Rd. On April 10, she was back at the cemetery, along with 22 others who have relatives buried in the historic African American cemetery at the edge of Cabin John. The descendants were gathered by the trustees of the newly reestablished Morningstar Moses 88 ownership group to have a tour of the cemetery now that the bamboo and debris have been removed by the state. The other important reason for the meeting was to inform the descendants that in the course of clearing the bamboo, the state found indications of possible gravesites within the right-of-way of the existing Beltway. While Pandora was pleased with the cleanup efforts, she is concerned about the possibility of graves outside the cemetery fence. “I’m very pleased about how it’s been cleared out.” she said, noting that she didn’t realize how far back the graves went. Should the state determine that there are graves in the right-of-way, she wants them left alone. “I don’t think they should disturb the graves, but they should go around them,” turning that land over to the cemetery, she added. Steve Archer, cultural resources team leader at the Maryland State Highway Administration, said they are still completing their archeological investigations of the site for a report that will “provide detailed surface mapping of the cemetery as well as historical research to understand what we can from an archival perspective.” He expects the report to be released this summer. However, the report will not address whether there are gravesites in the Beltway right-of-way. To determine that, Archer explained that they would have to do a two-step investigation. First, they would dig just deep enough to determine if there are any grave shafts. If they find any, they would work with the descendants and the community to determine a proper course of action. Only then, if it is determined that any human remains are to be relocated, would they dig deeper to unearth those remains. Archer gave no time frame for when they might start this investigation. For now, the cemetery remains closed to the public while the state completes its current assessments. The Friends of Moses Hall, a group comprised of descendants, historic preservationists, and Cabin John community members, also requests that the public stay away as they are starting a bamboo remediation project June 7 that requires the use of chemicals to kill the bamboo. In some cases, bamboo that the state cut in January had already sent up new shoots that stand six feet tall or more. The Friends of Moses Hall has another request of the public. They are asking people with any ties to Moses Hall to go through their family photo albums, letters, and other documents. They are hoping that folks might find photographs of events held there, letters that might mention a Moses Hall function, or other documents with reference to the property. Any information, from any source, in any format, that mentions the lodge or cemetery, even if it’s just in passing, would be of interest to the group. Friends of Moses Hall can be reached via email at email@example.com. SUSAN SHIPP, CJCA President ...
A Big Haul at the CJ Creek Cleanup
May 21, 2021
The annual Cabin John Creek cleanup, held April 24, had its best turnout in years with 34 people, including 10 students, scouring the woods and creek from MacArthur Blvd. to at least sandy beach. The Friends of Cabin John Creek organized an additional cleanup for May 2nd to tackle the rest of the creek to Seven Locks. The energetic group on the 24th picked up 21 bags of trash as well as three bags of cans, bottles, and other recyclables. They also hauled up two tires, and some 150 pounds of loose trash that included plastic tree cages, metal pipes, a hub cap, and a tire jack. There was only one scrape requiring a band-aid, and folks wore masks and generally followed social distancing protocols, making the event a safety success as well. Thanks to everyone who came out. GREG GURLEY, Director, Friends of the Cabin John Creek ...
CJ Sign Concept Ready for Unveiling
May 21, 2021
After multiple years and a pandemic, the Cabin John sign committee is excited to be able to share a recommended sign design with the community at the May 26 Cabin John Citizens Association meeting. CJCA officer elections also will be held during the Zoom meeting, which will begin at 7:30 pm. The community endorsed a Cabin John sign project as part of the celebrations for the CJCA’s 100th anniversary in 2019. In addition to civic pride, the idea for a prominent Cabin John sign stemmed from community frustration that, as part of the revamping of the Cabin John Shopping Center at Seven Locks and Tuckerman Lane, the developers decided to rename the shopping center and planned townhouses Cabin John Village. After some debate about how best to plant our flag as the REAL Cabin John, the decision was made to come up with a sign that simply says: Historic Cabin John, established 1912. The only other guidance was that the sign be placed somewhere along MacArthur Blvd. With those marching orders, the CJ sign committee, led by CJCA Vice President Greg Pawlson, has been working diligently, although somewhat sporadically, throughout the pandemic. The group’s work became inspired when Jack Mandel, a stone mason and owner of his own stonework design business, recently joined the effort. Other committee members are Darla Cable, Dallas Harrison, Charlotte and Russ Leighton, and Susan Shipp. Thanks to Greg Pawlson’s efforts, the MacArthur Plaza shopping center has tentatively agreed to allow a Cabin John sign to be installed on the grassy area between the landscaping and the stop sign at the corner of Seven Locks and MacArthur Blvd. The committee hopes that CJ residents will join in the Zoom meeting for the design unveiling and a discussion about next steps, including the additional fundraising that will be needed to make this sign a reality. A link to the meeting will be emailed prior to May 26. 2021 CJCA OFFICER ELECTIONS – 2021 CJCA Officer Elections also will be held at the May 26 meeting. The slate is still being put together, and we are still looking for officers to serve in a number of positions. So, don’t be shy, reach out to Susan Shipp at firstname.lastname@example.org and let her know that you are ready to volunteer your time to give back to our wonderful community. SUSAN SHIPP, CJCA President ...
Local Nature: Pride of Maryland (Woodland pinkroot)
May 21, 2021
In nature’s beauty pageant, what is the most stunning wildflower native to Maryland? There are spectacular candidates like Calypso orchid and Shooting star. But my vote is for a wildflower that shares our state name—Spigelia marylandica—known more familiarly as Woodland pinkroot or Indian Pink. With its spectacular 2-inch-long, crimson-tubed flowers on the outside contrasting with creamy yellow tips, it will stop you in your tracks. The flowering display at the tips is set off against a strikingly symmetrical arrangement of leaves—pairs are born opposite each other and emerge right out of the stems, with the leaves rotated 90 degrees to the pair above or below them. Botanists call this pattern of leaf arrangement “decussate”—a great word for novices to name-drop to show their chops. Such decussate leaves are in turn marked by an elegant venation pattern of deep grooves in the upper leaf surface. Elegant leaves, stunning flowers—this is the kind of plant that can convince doubters of Darwin’s theory that evolution is capable of producing living organisms of extraordinary beauty. The beauty of Woodland pinkroot is perhaps accentuated because it is relatively rare in our area, even though it bears the epithet “marylandica.” In fact, I have never seen it in the wild during my Maryland nature walks, even though white-tailed deer, the notorious native wildflower remover, avoids pinkroot. Woodland pinkroot can be found throughout the greater southeastern U.S., but wherever you look it is never common. Woodland pinkroot prefers rich, moist woods and wooded stream banks. Although in nature it is typically found in partial to full shade, it requires well-drained soil. Plant breeders know beauty when they see it, so Woodland pinkroot has been brought into the garden trade, aided by its long flowering period and ability to tolerate shade. You can even order it online. There are showier cultivars for sale, but I would stick with the original. Some report it can do well in sunny spots, forming dense clumps and exploding with more flowers than the plants stuck under shade. But from personal experience, I suggest heeding the warning of horticulturalists: this species requires well-drained soils. To be able to admire this beauty at home, under the canopy forest in my backyard, I planted five Woodland pinkroots. They flowered prolifically for a few years and then died. My backyard, like many here in Cabin John, is underlain by dense clay, not the preferred soil type for this species. So a rich deposit of deep topsoil mixed with some gravel to enhance drainage might be the ticket. I will try again. There may be a good reason that deer know to avoid Woodland pinkroot. Some botanists put Spigelia in its own family, the Spigeliaceae, but most consider it part of the Loganiacieae, a mostly tropical family. Not familiar with it? Many plants in this family store highly toxic alkaloids such as strychnine in their leaves, repelling herbivores, deer among them. Spigelia was also known as wormgrass because it was once used as a concoction to rid humans, children especially, of worms. The dire consequences of inappropriate doses, however, is well documented, leading to cramps and severe pain in various parts of the body. Spigelia isn’t even a particularly pleasant name for a plant genus, but that’s simply coincidental. Botanists have a penchant for naming genera or species after…fellow botanists, and Spigelia is no exception. None other than famed 18th century botanist Carl Linnaeus, known as the Father of Taxonomy, named this plant in honor of Adrian van der Spigel, a Brussels doctor whose 1606 text described the creation of herbaria using dried plants. Unlike the rest of the plant, the nectar of Woodland pinkroot is not toxic, however, and a favorite of our ruby-throated hummingbirds. So what could be a better occupant of your garden? A gorgeous plant that attracts one of our most charismatic birds, the diminutive hummer. Enjoy the summer with this exquisite pairing of nature and honor Maryland’s name by introducing it to your yard. ERIC DINERSTEIN, Contributing Writer ILLUSTRATION BY TRUDY NICHOLSON...
Reminder: Pay Your 2021 Dues; Payments Lagging
April 16, 2021
Are you impressed with the 2021 Cabin John Directory? Do you appreciate the news you read in The Village News? Are you glad people are advocating on your behalf for quieter skies, a less impactful Beltway expansion plan, and the preservation of CJ’s Moses Hall & cemetery? Then please support the Cabin John Citizens Association by paying your 2021 dues. As of early April, only some 300 CJ households and businesses have paid their $20 dues. That figure represents just a 40 percent participation rate. Show your appreciation for what the CJCA does by paying your dues today. Checks can be mailed to CJCA, P.O. Box 31, Cabin John, MD 20818. Payment is also possible online at www.cabinjohn.org under the Support CJCA tab....
CJ Residents Enthused About Minnie’s Island Non-Profit
April 16, 2021
The CJ founders of a newly created entity that aims to assume control of Minnie’s Island, received near universal support from the roughly 50 people who listened to their plans at the March 24 CJCA Zoom meeting. Minnie’s Island, located in the Potomac River about 100 yards off-shore from Lockhouse 8 on the C&O Canal, is roughly eight acres of wild habitat with a dilapidated wooden lodge and large deck at one end. Led by Pascal Pittman of 80th Place, the Minnie’s Island Community Conservancy (MICC) is being formed to receive ownership of the island from the Potomac Conservancy. The other founding members of MICC are CJ residents Burr Gray, Jack Mandel, and Mac Thornton. A day after the meeting MICC became a registered corporation, allowing it to begin working on its 501(c)(3) status. The organization “is dedicated to the preservation of the ecological, architectural, scientific, and humanist legacy of Minnie’s Island,” according to its mission statement. To achieve its aims, MICC is counting on community awareness, volunteerism, and donations to support the refurbishment of the cabin, the removal of non-invasive species from the island, and on-going maintenance, Pascal told meeting participants. For the structure, he envisions bringing to working order the composting toilet, a woodburning stove, and a well. The addition of solar panels would allow for electricity. It will take a couple of years, he noted. But then the island would be ready to host six to eight people at a time for recreation, educational programs, conservation, and scientific research. MICC also is in discussions with the National Park Service to take on maintenance responsibility for Lockhouse 8. Pascal explained that its role would be two-fold: the lockhouse would serve as a staging area for access to Minnie’s, primarily by enabling the canoes and kayaks needed to reach the island to be stored in its basement. It would also allow the group to schedule more educational programs as they would be able to use the lockhouse as meeting space if inclement weather kept the group from transporting people to the island. Pascal said they are hoping to raise funds initially by having folks donate $250 a year and volunteer time working on island projects. But he stressed that Minnie’s would not be “a Sycamore Island private club” and that its fundraising is not part of a “pay to play” plan. He assured meeting attendees that the public would have access to the island “in a controlled manner.” To find out more about MICC, email Pascal Pittman at email@example.com. By Susan Shipp, CJCA President...
Scroll to Top