The Land

Aerial photo of the Anderson Farm, mid-1950's
Aerial photo of the Anderson Farm, mid-1950’s

In 1754, Richard Anderson relocated from Charles County to this area and in 1757 purchased approximately 400 acres on the Sinequa Trail, also called the Great Road (now, Frederick Road or Rt. 355). He cleared the land and began farming it The land where College Gardens is now remained in the Anderson family for more than 200 years, until its sale by Thomas M. Anderson Sr. (b. 1902, d. 1980) and his sons to the Pollenger Corporation in the early 1960s.

The crossroad that became Rockville developed just south of the farm and over the succeeding years Anderson family members served Rockville in many prominent ways.

Until the 1930s the farm was of a general nature with the owners often working at various outside jobs as well. The farm extended from Rt. 355 almost to Nelson Street, and from the King property back to Manakee Street. Originally it was about 200 acres, but 100 more were added when Tom’s mother, Julia Vinson (daughter of Judge John T. Vinson) married his father, George. These 100 acres are now the site of the campus of Montgomery College.

Anderson Farm became a dairy operation during the 1930s and remained one until it was sold. Tom’s aunt Mary was the last of the Andersons to live on the property. After she died the land was farmed by two farmer managers on a share basis. The managers were John Styles followed by Harold Young, who bought the cows when the land was sold and moved to Carroll County.

Harold and Zelda Young rented and operated the Anderson Farm as a large dairy farm from 1948 to 1962.

Zelda Young has shared her story of their life on this farm with CGCA members Mary and J.P. Richard, including the photographs of the farm and her family shown on this page.

Mary Richard and Zelda Young, July 2003
Mary Richard and Zelda Young, July 2003

According to Tom Anderson Jr., the land today is much as it was as a farm, with the woods and open spaces in the same areas.

The farm’s entrance was a road coming off Rt. 355 north of the woods near what is now Yale Place. This road was later used by the Kings in their farming operations. Originally there was a large frame house, added onto through the years, which stood close to the large European elm on Rice Court. After Aunt Mary died, it remained empty for some years and fell into serious disrepair. It was torn down in the 1930s.

Another farmhouse was built in the vicinity of the current site of College Gardens Elementary School. This is where the Styles and the Youngs lived, according to Zelda Young. Later, two tenant houses were built on the property: one in the vicinity of the empty field near Rutgers, the other, close to the pond. Some fruit trees can still be found among the brush that has since grown up after these houses were removed.

The outbuildings were torn down when the property was developed. There was a log house close to the pond where milk wagons were stored (now the pond in College Gardens Park). It is believed that the pond was put in by the Izaac Walton League in the ’30s. It was stocked with bass since it was spring fed and periodically the members of the Izaac Walton League harvested the fish for transfer to ponds in the area.

A stone barn and a masonry barn stood between the pond and the site of the house. At one time, up to 66 cows were milked daily in that barn.

The Youngs took pride in showing their prize-winning cows at the Montgomery County Fair.

Harold and his son Rick at the Montgomery County Fair
Harold and his son Rick at the Montgomery County Fair

Originally, some of the Andersons were buried in a cemetery near the house, but the graves were moved to the cemetery on Baltimore Road in the 1930s.

In December 1961 the Anderson brothers, John and George, sold the Anderson Family farm to the Pollenger Development Corporation. In 1965 the Planning Commission of the City of Rockville approved the plat map of the subdivision of College Gardens, a design that served to create and preserve the open space of College Gardens Park and the property that later became the Watts Branch Forest Preserve.