Throwback Thursday: MJC Opens Doors in History


An image from the book “Montgomery College, Maryland’s First Community College” provided by Marcus Rosano

For this Throwback Thursday, we’ll delve into the history of how MC started. The original article is from Oct. 11, 1950, the first semester MC had its own campus. More up-to-date information will follow, marked by two asterisks (**). Because the Article is so short, we also typed up one of the other front page articles. Enjoy!

The front page of the Knights' Quest from Oct. 11, 1950
The front page of the Knights’ Quest from Oct. 11, 1950

Original Bliss Dates Back to 1880

[No writer attributed, transcribed by Saagar Ahluwalia]

About 1880 a Mr. Gilbert had a bright idea and built a summer hotel just outside of Silver Spring, Maryland. That hotel became the first building in the community of Takoma Park, thereby making Mr. Gilbert the founder of one of the most desirable residential sections of the metropolitan area.

In 1906, a girls finishing school leased the Takoma Park Hotel, but because of an inadequate heating plant, the girls were, shall we say, frosted out. The building lay idle for a year; and in 1908, Professor Louis D. Bliss bought the defunct Takoma Park Hotel and six acres of grounds about it. This hotel was completely renovated, a new heating plant was put in, and laboratories were installed. Thus were the permanent quarters of Bliss Electrical School founded.

Six weeks after the first class on the 6th of November, 1908, the entire 160 room building burned with all the equipment and improvements. The only thing saved was Professor Bliss’ lecture notes. The school was $100,000 in the hole. The school seemed to be finished, but the residents of Takoma Park lent their Town Hall for classes, and private homes were opened to the 160 students of Bliss. New funds were obtained and a laboratory building was built on the front lawn. This building, with the addition of stucco, is now the library. The next year, part of the administration building was constructed, and some of the old radiators which had survived the fire were installed in the large lecture room, and are still in use. The construction of the new buildings was finally completed in 1930, and the school became one of the best equipped electrical schools in the country. And now, MJC has taken over this school and campus.

Many of Bliss’ classes have been incorporated into the MJC curricula. Bliss Electrical gives to us, the students of MJC, the best-equipped electrical labs in the tri-state area, a campus with a long and varied history, the main B & O Railroad tracks (a fact all instructors will appreciate), a well-equipped cafeteria, a larger library, more classroom space than we have had before, and finally, but most important of all, MJC has a campus all its own.

**According to Montgomery College, Maryland’s First Community College by William Lloyd Fox, Montgomery College was the first community college in Maryland. In the 1930’s, there were five junior colleges, but all of them were private. A year after World War II ended, Montgomery College started in Bethesda, using Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School’s building during the evening hours. By the summer of 1950, MC was beginning to make the move to it’s own campus in Takoma. This article is from the first semester that MC had its own campus. The Takoma campus is the oldest, but according to MC’s website, Rockville campus opened in 1965 and Germantown opened in 1978.

Campus Door Opens with Tea

Tea Room Gaily Decorated

[No writer attributed, transcribed by Saagar Ahluwalia]

On the twenty-fourth of September a tea was held for all the new and old women students of Montgomery Junior College. This was the initial opening of Orientation week for he new students of the school. The [tea] took place between the hours of three and five in the Dining hall of the college.

Fifty girls of this year’s freshmen class came to the tea. These girls formerly attended Bethesda Chevy Chase High School, Blair wilson, Richard Montgomery and many others.

The room was decorated with large bouquets of flowers and a fire was built in the fireplace.

Refreshments of tea, punch, and cookies were served.

Mrs. Jesse Bougue, Mrs. Virgin is Pinney, Mrs. EstherPrice and Mrs. Mary Holberg helped to serve the refreshments. South of the Alumnae helping to pour were Joan Gross, Betsy Canada, Charlotte Geary and Betty Lou Wolfe.

The head of the tea committee was Rita Watts who was assisted by Sally Hall, Meta Fong, Mary Deeds, and Charlotte Geary. Johnny Scott and Donald Rehlaender were on hand as doormen and also to welcome the students.

Mr. Schic, who teaches electronice, furnished the music by playing records during the tea. In the receiving line were Mrs. Price, Miss Higgins, Cissy Berry and Meta Fong.

An image from the book "Montgomery College, Maryland's First Community College" provided by Marcus Rosano
An image from the book “Montgomery College, Maryland’s First Community College” provided by Marcus Rosano

Dean Price** came to the tea to meet the students and to extend a welcome to them.

**Dean Price was the founding Dean, and the one pictured in Montgomery College, Maryland’s First Community College.