1630, John Winthrop, speaking to the Pilgrims, said, "We
must consider that we shall be as a City upon a Hill, the eyes
of all people are upon us."
as those early settlers realized that they were setting an
example, so we in Damascus should realize that we have an
opportunity to set an example. We have traditionally had a
strong sense of community, which has been envied by our
the early 1800's to the present, Damascus has been a commercial
center for the rural communities which surround it. Its
significance is based upon its historic role as a crossroads
community providing goods and services to travelers and
residents of the area.
at the highest point in the county and at the intersection of
two important early roads, the Old Quaker Road (Route 27) and
the Damascus - Laytonsville Road (Route 108). The town of
Damascus was founded in 1816 by Edward Hughes, who laid out the
town and was appointed its first postmaster by the fourth
president of the United States, James Madison.
town is first mentioned on April 30, 1816 when Edward Hughes
received approval from Congress for a postal route through the
new town. A plat of the town is dated October 1816.
post office was established November 28, 1816.
October 12, 1816 in the Frederick Town Herald, Edward Hughes
advertised some of his lots for sale. He stated "There is
at this place an extensive opening for mechanics of all the
different kinds, and it bids fair to improve very fast;...
There is at present two blacksmith shops, a saddler's shop and
a store in the place --- a tailor, a wheel wright, and a
shoemaker are much wanted, and would meet with great
"town of Damascus" in 1816 contained only 14 lots of
various shapes and sizes, averaging 1/2 acre, which were
located on the south side of what is now called Main Street.
Druid Theater, the present post office, and the United
Methodist Educational Building are some of the structures
which stand today on land which was part of the original town.
Hughes named the new town after the early land tract called
"Pleasant Plains of Damascus." The 14 lots lay in
the southwestern corner of this tract.
Plains of Damascus" was an original land tract containing
1,101 acres which was patented (deeded) to Matthew Pigman on
April 13, 1774. This large tract, irregular in shape, extends
from the center of the present town eastward to the Mullinix
Mill Road area.
of the early settlers in the Damascus area were descendants of
prominent families who had settled earlier in Anne Arundel
County and in other parts of Montgomery County. Descendants of
these early settlers, with such names as Burdette, Morley,
Miles and Griffith, can still be found in the Damascus area.
the years the town of Damascus has expanded in all directions
onto a number of other original tracts.
spite of Hughes' enthusiasm, the town grew slowly, due, no
doubt, to the fact that it was never linked to the railroad.
By 1890, however, Damascus had grown sufficiently for the
townspeople to seek incorporation. Damascus was incorporated
for 24 years, until 1914, when the corporation was dissolved
to allow for the construction of the first paved road within
the town limits by the State Roads Commission. Now Route 27
(Ridge Road), it was the main road from Washington to
Frederick from 1914 to 1926.
important early roads passed through Damascus, connecting it
with larger communities in the state and with the District of
Columbia. The Old Quaker Road (Route 27, Ridge Road, south of
Damascus) was an important thoroughfare in Maryland even
before the Revolutionary War. It served as one of the
"principal market roads" of the province and as a
main route from Fredricktown to Annapolis. Maryland Route 108
was an early route from Laural to New Market, roughly
following the Pautauxant River Valley.
March of 1884, with the increase in the county's population,
Damascus became the center for a new election district,
election district number 12.
last two decades have seen much of the farmland around
Damascus converted to housing, as federal agencies and private
corporations opened offices in Montgomery County and drew
newcomers to the area. The countryside around Damascus still
remains predominantly rural, however, and Damascus (which now
has a population of approximately 8,000) still remains a
commercial center for the rural communities of Clagettsville,
Browningsville, Cedar Grove, Woodfield, King's Valley, Purdum
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