Montgomery Parks Recognized with Historic Preservation Award for Rehabilitation of Seneca Store and Upton Darby House

Montgomery Parks Recognized with Historic Preservation Award for Rehabilitation of Seneca Store and Upton Darby House

Per Montgomery Parks:

WHEATON, MD –  Montgomery Parks has received the 2020 County Executive’s Award for Historic Preservation from Montgomery Preservation, Inc. The award recognizes the department’s efforts in the rehabilitation of the  Seneca Store and the neighboring Upton Darby House located in Poolesville, as well as the associated archaeological investigations of the sites and development of interpretive signage.   

For 33 years, Montgomery Preservation, Inc. has honored individuals and groups for their contributions in preserving, restoring, and interpreting Montgomery County’s architectural heritage and historic landscapes for future generations. Montgomery Parks was one of nine recipients to be honored this year. In lieu of an in-person awards ceremony, Montgomery Preservation produced video highlighting this year’s honorees.

“This award recognizes the superb preservation work that Montgomery Parks continues to conduct at its historic properties. Undertaking and completing a comprehensive project such as the rehabilitation of the Seneca Store and Upton Darby House enriches and inspires us all,” said Sandra Heiler, Montgomery Preservation Board Member. 

The rehabilitation of the historic Seneca Store i included the general store’s original tongue and grooved ceiling, wood floors, and shelving, as well as structural upgrades. New mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems were installed and a new one-story, 300-square-foot rear kitchen and staff restroom was added. Additional accessibility improvements were made and the building was brought up to current code requirements so that it could once again be leased to a commercial tenant.   

The rehabilitation of the Upton Darby House included reconstruction of collapsing sections of rubble stone foundation and replacing the failing roof system. Interior improvements included renovating the kitchen and bathrooms and refinishing the floors.  

In conjunction with the rehabilitation work, archaeological investigations were conducted and led to significant discoveries, including an 18th-century stone mill wheel pit measuring approximately 16′ x 16′ x 4 1/2′ Although remnants of other 18th-century mills have been uncovered in Montgomery County, few have such intact mill wheel pits. More than two thousand artifacts were found in the excavated area.    

Over the duration of these projects, interpretive panels, posters, and banners were created to educate the public about the historic aspects of the store and its surroundings, as well as about archaeology in general.  

“We are proud to receive this recognition from Montgomery Preservation. This project is indicative of our continued commitment to cultural resources stewardship,” said Mike Riley, Director, Montgomery Parks.   

History of the Seneca Store and Upton Darby House  

The Seneca Store, a gable-front, two-and-a-half story general store first opened its doors in 1901.  It served the community continuously for 109 years before closing in 2010. It was operated by the Allnutt family until 1965, when employee Raymond E. Poole took over the business.  The Poole family continued to operate the store specializing in goods and services for local equestrian, hunting and farming communities, and is now managed for Southern States (leasee) by Poole family members.  


The Upton Darby House was constructed in 1855 by John Darby and later named for his son, Upton.  The Darbys operated adjacent mills which had been established in the late 18th century. The Allnutt family purchased the house in 1900 just before building the Seneca Store. Both properties remained in the Allnutt family until they were purchased in 1972 by The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.  


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