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Warner Circle Special Park – Facility Plan

Division: Park Planning and Stewardship

overview  facility_plan_notice revised_staff_report 09152011
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Warner Circle Special Park is a 4.5-acre property located at 10231Carroll Place in the heart of the Kensington Historic District. It was originally the home of Brainard Warner, the founder of the town and a significant figure in the development of Montgomery County and Washington, DC. The site was acquired by M-NCPPC in 2005-2006 through the Legacy Open Space program to preserve the historic landscape that has served as de facto public parkland for decades and to preserve the historic buildings by providing a public benefit through their adaptive reuse. The property is a primary resource in the Kensington Historic District, listed on the Montgomery County Master Plan for Historic Preservation. The district is also listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The site includes an 1892/1914 Queen Anne house and a 1914 carriage house. Although the buildings have been vacant for more than five years, the surrounding park continues to be used on a daily basis.

The 2011 Facility Plan calls for the historic buildings to be used as offices for the Department of Parks. However, since that time, the possible use of the building has been reconsidered and will be available for other uses and/or occupants as yet to be determined. The rehabilitation project has been awarded four state bond bills, and thus the site and buildings are subject to a preservation easement held by the Maryland Historical Trust. The easement requires review of any proposed alterations to ensure the preservation of the site’s architecturally and historically significant features.


Initial efforts by Parks to find a use for the historic buildings focused on identifying a private partner to fund the capital costs of rehabilitation in return for a low- or no-cost lease on the buildings. After significant coordination with the community over a two-year period, a Request for Proposals (RFP) was published in February 2008 to seek a private partner for an appropriate adaptive reuse. Despite extensive outreach efforts and significant verbal interest in the buildings at several open houses, the lengthy search process did not result in any viable applicants that met the RFP criteria.

Staff then pursued a publicly-funded reuse of the buildings that would be compatible with the maintenance of the open space and provision for historic interpretation on the site. An architectural/engineering team created a Concept Plan (15% design) for the park and adaptive reuse of buildings. The plan included rehabilitation of the historic buildings, demolition of two large, historically non-contributing nursing home wings – built in the 1960’s, and construction of a significantly smaller wing to house Department of Parks laboratories and offices, and a meeting room. Several years of close coordination with the Kensington community resulted in identification of community interests that were incorporated into the concept plan. Parks staff also coordinated with the M-NCPPC Historic Preservation Section and the Planning Department, and the Maryland Historical Trust.

Staff and the design consultants took the Concept Plan to the Planning Board in a briefing on September 24, 2009. Community members also spoke in favor of the concept. The Planning Board was strongly supportive of the project, commented in particular on the excellence of the design, and urged continuation of the design process.

Parks completed a Facility Plan (35% design) for the park in the summer of 2011. It included schematic design for the new addition and rehabilitation of the historic structures, a landscape master plan (15% design), an archeological and historical research report, a storm water management concept plan, an exemption from the Forest Conservation Act, and a LEED checklist. The community was apprised of all the concepts and pending storm water approvals through a series of meetings.

The Facility Plan was presented to the Planning Board on July 28, 2011. The Board approved demolition of the nursing home wings and construction to enclose the newly opened walls. However, it raised concerns about the proposed construction of laboratories and a meeting room, suggested that Parks reduce the scope of the Facility Plan design, and suggested that Parks re-evaluate the proposed use as Parks office space.

In response to the Board’s concerns, Parks reduced footprint for the project to include only the historic buildings and a possible elevator addition.  It presented the revised Facility Plan to the Board on September 15, 2011.  The Board approved the new plan, agreed that Parks be considered as the future tenant, and approved the revised cost estimate.

Status/Project Update

Funding from state bond bills and county funds allowed for the completion of Phase I of the project which was undertaken in 2013 – 2014.  It included demolition of the non-contributing nursing home wings, construction of walls to enclose the openings created by the demolition, reconstruction of the south stone terrace, construction of a porch on the east elevation, reconnection of the loop driveway that once encircled the house, and minor landscaping. Additional Legacy Open Space funding paid for roof repairs on both buildings.

In January 2015, the first of two community meetings was held to discuss potential uses for the buildings and park. A second meeting was held in May 2015. The results of these meetings can be found at Kensington Historic Buildings Project.

Phase II of the implementation of the Facility Plan calls for stabilization measures. Started in 2015, it includes, but is not limited to repair of the front porch, clean-out of the interior, and window repairs as funding allows. Phase III, the full rehabilitation of the building interiors, is not expected to begin before FY 2018, when funding might next be available for this project.

Calendar and Meeting Notes

Links to review meeting notes and Planning Board memos will be attached to each applicable calendar event as it is scheduled and completed.

2005 – 2006 Land acquisition
Community design charette
2006 – 2008 Request for Proposals for public/private partnership pursued
March 2009 Concept design (15%) phase started
July 13, 2009 Meeting with Town of Kensington Warner Circle Committee (concept design options discussion)
September 14, 2009 Concept design presented to Kensington Town Council
September 24, 2010 Montgomery County Planning Board briefing – 15% concept design M-NCPPC
Montgomery Regional Office
8787 Georgia Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20910
February 1, 2010 – Facility Planning ( 35% schematic design) phase started
– Met with Warner Circle Committee (Facility Plan kick-off)
April 6, 2011 Parks met with the Town of Kensington Warner Circle Committee (Facility Plan and Meeting Pavilion discussion)
July 7, 2011 Parks met with the Town of Kensington Warner Circle Committee (storm water management discussion)
July 28, 2011 Montgomery County Planning Board review of Facility Plan
Facility Plan Staff Report
Montgomery Regional Office
8787 Georgia Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20910
September 15, 2011 Montgomery County Planning Board approved the Facility Plan
Revised Facility Plan Staff Report
Montgomery Regional Office
8787 Georgia Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20910
September 2011 – January 2013 A/E design development and permitting
June 2013-March 2014 – Demolition of nursing home wings
– Completion of Phase I construction
Fall 2014 – Present – Interior cleanup
– Porch repair
– Community Meetings to discuss possible use and tenants

M-NCPPC Staff Contact

Julie Mueller, Project Cultural Resources Manager

Last Updated: May 4, 2022