Olney: The History of the Olney Ale House

by MCS Staff

Back in July of 2021 it was announced that the Montgomery County Green Bank and Sandy Spring Bank would be teaming up to provide flexible financing to help the Olney Ale House re-open.

We spoke with a representative from Montgomery County Green Bank in September, who let us know that the construction is moving along well and that construction could take around 3-5 months, but that is just an estimate. They said they want to make sure to keep the county up to date on potential activities around the reopening and would provide additional information soon. We have not heard any additional information since.

kitchen fire at the Olney Ale House caused the restaurant to temporarily shut down in 2019 and COVID-19 only compounded the issues for the restaurant. As we wait for the reopening of the Olney Ale House, we wanted to share with you its history, courtesy of the Olney Ale House website.

In 1923, Richard Bentley Thomas and Ethel Farquhar Thomas purchased the five acre triangular shaped piece of property from the estate of Sam Owens. The property had a four room log cabin in the middle of what is today’s parking lot. The corner was known as Davis Corner.

Almost immediately construction began on a hipped-roof, pavilion-type building that would contain a kitchen, dining room and two bedrooms. This building was completed in 1924, and opened for business as “The Corner Cupboard.” They served homemade ice cream, breads, cookies, pies and cakes, as well as, sausage, scrapple and ham sandwiches from hams that were cured in their smokehouse. Garden vegetables were also grown and sold. The Corner Cupboard was a unique establishment and drew many loyal followers.

In 1930, a large addition was added to the original structure. This included bedrooms in the rear and a second floor with more sleeping quarters. At this time, heat was installed making it a year-round operation. The log cabin was torn down at this time.

1930 also saw the addition of the stone fireplace in the dining room. It was built by Adolphus Gordon. The rocks came from a factory building at Triadelphia. The left over rocks were used to build the bell tower at Sherwood High School.

Two famous visitors of this time were Herbert Hoover, perhaps visiting the area because of his Quaker background and Dean Acheson, who owned a summer home in the area.

In 1937, the business was sold and became the Francis Lattie Inn. Miss Lattie operated the business as a tea room and carried on many of the former owners’ traditions.

The business has changed hands many times and operated under a variety of different names. “The Anchorage” had a retired naval officer Harold Hilliard at the helm, a Maggie Levesque purchased it but little is remembered of her time, then Mrs. Cramer bought it and named it the “Country Corner Inn.”

In the late 50’s, Irma Turnbull purchased it, she kept it until 1962 and then sold it to the McKenzie’s. Mrs. McKenzie had been one of her waitresses. Both of these owners operated under the “Country Corner Inn.” Mr. McKenzie was an engineer at WTOP and when they remodeled the station he brought out the large windows that were being discarded from a sound booth. They are currently installed in the bar room.

Sometime in 1970, the Matney’s purchased it. They added what is now known as the Beer Garden. They operated as a steak house and sold liquor. Two years later, they sold it to George, Fred and Anita Virkus and the “Olney Ale House” was born.

In 2000, it was purchased by the current owners.

Among some of the reported famous visitors are Burl Ives, Eve Arden, Tyrone Powers, Talulla Bankhead, Harry and Bess Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, Milo O’Shea, Chris and Susan Sarandon and Jason Miller.

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1 comment

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John MacDowall March 25, 2022 - 2:08 pm

This business doesn’t LOOK like it’s ever reopening!

What is going on?

Reply

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