• The Schools of Section Four

    The Town of Chevy Chase

    Homebuyers often make the decision to purchase a property based on the quality of the school system.  In 1892, the Chevy Chase Land Company knew that good schools would be an important amenity to attract discriminating buyers.  Beginning in 1894, the Land Company embarked on a 100-year legacy of supporting the development and improvement of public schools in both DC and Maryland.

    Although a few small private schools existed, primarily in the Village, most of Chevy Chase’s public educational institutions developed in the Town of Chevy Chase, also known as Section Four: the Bradley Lane Public School, Rosemary Chevy Chase Elementary, Leland Street Junior High, and Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School.  Why?  Because here the Land Company had larger lots of land that they could donate.  In addition, Section Four once boasted a private college for women, the Chevy Chase College and Seminary, now the National 4-H Conference Center.

    This exhibit takes you through Section Four and explores the history of these early educational institutions.


    Bradley Lane Public School

    Bradley Lane Public School
    3905 Bradley Lane, Former Schoolhouse.

    In 1894, the Land Company offered its temporary sales office on the west side of Chevy Chase Circle between Magnolia and Grafton streets to the Montgomery County Commissioners of Education for a local school.   There were 15 students the first year, and a full house of 26 students the second.  With a rapidly increasing population of families with children, the school moved to a larger building in 1898 at 3905 Bradley Lane, just west of Connecticut Avenue.  The Land Company donated the lot to the County and built the structure, while the county school board paid the construction costs of $2,200.  Maryland resident children attended classes here until 1903, when enrollment dropped because of the popularity of the E.V. Brown School near the site of the current Chevy Chase, DC Public Library, just south of the Chevy Chase Circle.  The Land Company also provided the property for this education institutional to serve families on both sides of the border.  

    The Devereux family purchased the Bradley Lane School building and it has remained a private residence ever since.  Public schools in DC at this time were considered some of the best in the county, so many Chevy Chase parents chose to send their youngsters to school on the Connecticut Avenue streetcar over the border. 


    1912 Washington Times Article
    The Washington Times, July 31, 1912, p. 7.

    In 1911, DC public schools began charging non-resident students tuition fees, and later excluded them altogether from enrolling.  As shown in this newspaper article in the Washington Time in 1911, Chevy Chase, Maryland students were no longer able to attend schools in the District of Columbia.  

    Chevy Chase residents worked with Montgomery County and the Land Company to establish permanent schools, and the Chevy Chase School, presently known as Chevy Chase Elementary School, opened in 1917.






    “Rosemary” Chevy Chase Elementary School

    In 1913, the Land Company provided a parcel of land on the southeast side of Rosemary Circle for the community to erect a new school.  Residents raised $5,000 dollars and purchased four portable frame buildings as temporary classrooms to serve first through tenth grade students.  In 1917, Montgomery County opened its first official school building, a two-story art-deco inspired brick structure called the Chevy Chase School (although residents fondly refer to it as the “Rosemary School”).  Eventually, the high school students were relocated to regional schools, so that the school served first through seventh graders.  In 1936, the school expanded by adding another brick building with a long hall connecting the two wings.  Subsequently, the school underwent a renovation in the 1970s and, again in 2000, when the PTA, Montgomery County, and the Land Company funded the most recent renovation.  The new state-of-the-art Chevy Chase Elementary School is distinguished in its architectural interior and exterior detailing.  The design of the building is coherent and compatible with the original school, while preserving its unique location in the heart of the community.

    • CC Elementary School
      West Wing - Chevy Chase Elementary School, 1936,courtesy of the National Archives
    • CC Elm Maypool
      Maypole Ceremony, Chevy Chase Elementary School, 1939, courtesy  Eda Offutt


    Leland Junior High School (Presently the Leland Center)
    Leland Junior High School
    Photograph of the Leland Junior High School Original Building, courtesy of Elsie Irvine

    Once Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, this school reopened its doors in 1936, to 7th through 9th graders, as the Leland Junior High School.  In 1963, the County constructed a four-story addition on the Oakmont side of the lot, demolishing the original structure to make room for tennis courts and an outdoor play area, which still exist today.  The school closed in the spring of 1981 because of declining enrollment and was razed in 1988.  Offices for the Town of Chevy Chase and the Montgomery County recreational facility is on the Leland Junior High School’s grounds.  

    In April, 1956, Life magazine featured a story called “Parents’ Schooldays.”  It chronicled the adventures of seven parents of Leland Junior High School students who spent three days attending gym classes, discussing literature, making tie clasps in metal shop class, and taking exams.  The parents reported to the PTA that the teachers were doing “a better job than they had imagined.”

    CCHS has a collection of "Pine Log" yearbooks for Leland Junior High School.  Click here for a list.

    If you, or someone you know, would like to donate a copy of a "Pine Tree" yearbook that we DO NOT have in our collection, please contact us to inquire about donating it to CCHS.      

    BCC High School
    B-CC High School entrance, from a photograph in the 1948 Pine Tree, p. 94.

    Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School

    BCC High School was established in 1926 on Wilson Lane in Bethesda, but was relocated to the neighborhood in 1928 to a building that once stood where the Leland Community Center is today.  The original high school building was two stories and fronted 44th street, with wings extending towards Willow and Elm Streets.  After the number of students outgrew the building, the high school moved in 1936 to its present location on the old Watkins farm by East-West Highway.  The county then converted the Leland building into a Junior High School.

    CCHS has a collection of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School "Pine Tree" yearbooks.  Click here for a list. 


    If you, or someone you know, would like to donate a copy of a "Pine Tree" yearbook that we DO NOT have in our collection, please contact us to inquire about donating it to CCHS.  


    Chevy Chase College and Seminary (Presently The National 4-H Center)

    Located at 7100 Connecticut Avenue, the National 4-H Center began as the Springs Hotel which opened on May 13, 1894.  Lindley Johnson designed the building for the Chevy Chase Land Company to entice DC residents out to the suburbs for recreational activities.  Later renamed the Chevy Chase Inn, it offered landscaped grounds, stables, bowling alley, music every evening, and a dollar table d’hôte.  The Land Company planned this resort as a magnet to draw potential buyers of land.  Because it was a summer resort, it often remained empty during the winters, but eventually rented to a Miss Lea M. Bouligny, who started a school for young ladies during the winter.

    In 1903, the building underwent a renovation that included bricking the façade, adding two side buildings, and creating a trolley waiting room on Connecticut Avenue.  It subsequently became the Chevy Chase College and Seminary for Young Ladies, the name changing in 1927 to the Chevy Chase Junior College.


    The young women at the Seminary began their day with a rising bell ringing at 6:45am and ended with lights out at 10:00 pm.  They took courses such as cooking, dressmaking, and elementary hygiene to prepare them for managing their future households. They also studied subjects such as Latin, geometry, and typewriting to prepare them for college or a career.  As the picture of the basketball team suggests, there was also an emphasis on physical education to balance both mind and body. In 1951, the National 4-H Club Foundation purchased the property, and after a few years of leasing it to the Army and Johns Hopkins University, the group turned it into a conference center with an overnight capacity for 650 occupants, 30 meeting rooms, and dining and banquet facilities.

    For more information about the Chevy Chase College and Seminary, see our online exhibit which traces its history from 1903 to 1950 by clicking here.


    ©2006 Written by Evelyn Gerson for the Chevy Chase Historical Society, updated in 2014. 


    < Back to Exhibitions