Title: Book opens new window into history of Silver Spring
Author: Alison Bryant
Panera Bread now fills the storefront once inhabited by Wright's Jeweler-Optician on the corner of Georgia Avenue and Colesville Road. McDonald's has replaced the Continental Oil Company. And The Portico Apartments mask the footprint of a row of bungalows on today's Fidler Lane.
Old and new images pair up, sometimes in stark contrast, in Jerry A. McCoy's new book of historic images titled "Then & Now: Downtown Silver Spring.''
"It's a good market to be able to educate these folks as to what makes Silver Spring unique and what things are important and what things we should hold onto and incorporate into a new, revitalized Silver Spring," said McCoy, president of the Silver Spring Historical Society.
The book takes the reader on a photographic journey through the history of Silver Spring, comparing images from the past with images of the present-day bustling urban center.
"It's an extremely compelling book with stunning images, and many of the photos show how then is now,'' said Marcie Stickle, longtime Silver Spring resident and advocacy chair of the Silver Spring Historical Society. "... We are luckily able to retain and repurpose many of our original buildings, especially along main streets, ... and that's very exciting,"
Shortly after McCoy published his first book, "Images of America: Historic Silver Spring'' in 2005, which documents the area from 1840 to the 21st century revitalization, he began receiving questions about why he excluded certain images, he said.
"I knew there was a lot missing from the first book that I did want to include," McCoy said. "It took about five years to accumulate enough new material, and I was very adamant. This was my own self goal that I didn't want to repeat any images in the second book that were in the first."
It took McCoy five years and significant historical detective work to complete his latest book. Tracking down historic materials involves contacting descendants of early Silver Spring residents and Internet research, McCoy said.
The online auction site eBay proves a valuable source for finding items that originated in Silver Spring, he said. Some of the Silver Spring Historical Society acquisitions fund goes to buying back bits of history for the community, he said.
"It's always magic to my ears when someone says, 'Oh, I have an old scrapbook of Silver Spring photos, and I never knew what to do with it,' " McCoy said. "It's really hard to find, though."
Digging up historic items from Silver Spring is no simple task, McCoy said, though he can't quite pinpoint why.
"I think it's a combination that we're not incorporated, and it's a very transient community where people are always coming and going," he said. "And, I hate to say it, but there's sort of a lack of pride in the identity of the community as a unique place."
Those of the World War II generation provide much of McCoy's material, he said. Now, many of those former residents live in Florida.
"I think there's probably more Silver Spring history in Florida than anywhere else in America," McCoy said.
The book aims to inform the community about what came before and inform new residents about the rich history of Silver Spring, he said.
"There's such new lifeblood moving into the community," McCoy said. "New couples, new singles, and they just have no concept or idea of what history evolved in Silver Spring. And these folks are very intelligent and probably very inquisitive, and they want to learn more about their new community and new neighborhood."