Explore Black history in Rockville with the interactive African-American Heritage walking tour map developed by the City of Rockville’s Department of Community Planning and Development Services.
As one of Maryland’s oldest towns, Rockville’s history stretches back to colonial times. With its long history, Rockville is the location of several people and places that played a significant role in Black history from the 18th century through the 20th. Downtown Rockville contains over a dozen locations (both existing and demolished) that set the stage for the fight for rights of African Americans in the area.
The walking tour touches on the historic themes common to the African American experience, such as slavery, emancipation, religion, education, commerce, and civil rights. Use the interactive map to locate and learn about specific sites like Adam Robb’s Tavern, Beall-Dawnson House, and the Red Brick Courthouse.
The Beall-Dawson House was built circa 1815 for Upton Beall and his wife and daughters. Beall, from a prominent Georgetown family and Clerk of the Court for Montgomery County, desired a home that would reflect his wealth and status. In 1815 Rockville was a small rural community, despite being the County seat and an important crossroads town. Beall’s large brick Federal-style home, built overlooking Commerce Lane (now West Montgomery Avenue), was designed to impress both inside and out. Beall’s daughters–Matilda, Jane, and Margaret–lived in the house their entire lives, and were later joined by a cousin, Amelia Somervell Dawson, and her family. The house remained in private hands until 1965, when it was purchased by the City of Rockville and became Montgomery History’s headquarters.
Today, although all but one of the outbuildings are gone, the house itself still contains most of its original architectural features, including the quarters allocated to the household’s enslaved laborers, located directly above the kitchen. Docents are knowledgeable about the lives of both the upper-class white families and the enslaved African Americans who lived here, as well as typical life in 19th century Rockville.