Around Germantown (MD) Then & Now by Margaret Coleman

Around Germantown (MD) Then & Now by Margaret Coleman takes a look at what Germantown was like before 1980 and what it was like after the Maryland-Nation Capital Park and Planning Commission adopted the area.  Coming from Massachusetts where many of the towns are older than the actual state and older than the United States, I had no idea that towns/cities were actually planned out ahead of time.  I really thought that they just came about when people started settling into an area and the businesses just cropped up naturally to service those people.  Silly, me.

Germantown, Md., is made up of six villages and the heart of the city has been moved a couple of times as populations and transit projects changed.  My husband and I looked at this book together and I told him we must have been destined to move here, since some of the founding families have the same last name as those of the town we grew up in.  The town also was settled by German farmers in addition to the English farmers already here.

We really enjoyed the photos of places that were and what they came to be, though it saddened us that so many of the original historic structures in the town had burned (on purpose or accidentally) and were not restored and of those that were restored were moved to other locations.  Unfortunately, progress seems to be the mainstay of this town as historic homes have been replaced by gas stations and other signs of commerce.  The tone of the book doesn’t seem as maudlin as I do about it, however.

Around Germantown (MD) Then & Now by Margaret Coleman is an interesting peak into the history of this town, its people, and its growth over the years.  I’d recommend it to locals interested in the area they have moved to or to those who have lived here but know little of its history.  I’ve always enjoyed these types of books even if I don’t live in the areas discussed.  The inclusion of photos of places then and now rounds out the story.

This is my 55th book for the 2011 New Authors Reading Challenge.