Where Does Bethesda Gets Its Name?

A few weeks ago I made a short post about the general history of Bethesda (“How Bethesda Got Started”). One of the interesting facts that I learned was that Bethesda took its name from a Presbyterian church called Bethesda Meeting House (BMH). So I wanted to research more about the church and it turns out it was two miles away from where I live. Moreover, I maybe passed thousands of times by it and never paid attention to it. Last week I went for “a pilgrimage” and wanted to share with you some of my findings.

Bethesda Meeting House, Sep. 22, 2017 © Bethesdan

The Bethesda Meeting House is located on Rockville Pike, north of Cedar Lane. It will be on your left as you pass Cedar Ln. It is easy to miss it as it is a relatively small building and situated behind the trees. It is built in the Greek Revival architecture with Gothic-style windows. It was built in 1820 and burned down on November 23, 1849. The building served as  a Presbyterian Church from 1850 to 1925.

In 1850s, there were just a few commercial establishments on the territory of the modern Bethesda. One of the most iconic establishments was Darcy’s Store, which belonged to William Darcy and served as a post office. On January 23, 1871, Robert Franck took over the business. It was Rev. Edward Henry Cumpston, a pastor of BMH, who convinced Robert Franck to change the name of the post office from “Darcy’s Store” to “Bethesda.”

The BMH congregation decided to build a new church on Wilson Lane in 1923. This church is now called Bethesda Presbyterian Church. In 1950s, the ownership of the BMH was transferred to the trustees of the Temple Hill Baptist Church. BMH was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.

Sep. 22, 2017 © Bethesdan

As I was leaving the property, I saw a memory stone under a tree. It was dedicated to George Baldwin McCoy (First Lieutenant of the Eighteenth Infantry) by Wendell Wolfe Chapter of Daughters of American Revolution in 1823.

For more information about the history and architecture of the BMH, check out this Nomination Form of National Register of History Places.

For high resolution pictures of BMH, check out the gallery below:

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