NPS - the Cassedy Era

The best source of information on this phase of the Seminary
comes from a series of articles written by Ric Nelson for the

NPS Alumnae Bulletin.
Those articles, and many of the photos which appear here,
are copyrighted by Ric Nelson. 
The photos are used here with his permission.

In 1888, John and Vesta Cassedy became Principals at Norfolk College for Young Women. They are credited with giving the College a new direction and stimulating enrollment.

However, Norfolk College was an urban school, and the Cassedys had a dream of establishing a suburban school of their own at which they could implement their personal educational philosophy. Excursions aboard the Norfolk and Washington Steamboat line in the company of the Norfolk students gave them the chance to get acquainted with the Maryland suburbs.

It was on one of these trips in 1891 that they chanced to meet an old student from their Lassell Seminary days, Mary Osborne Beach and her new husband, T.F. Schneider. He told them about the Forest Inn he had designed for the Forest Glen Improvement Company.

By 1893, their dream was stronger. At the Columbian Exposition, they purchased a book of house plans, since they planned to build a house wherever they settled. Many of the sorority clubhouses at Forest Glen would later spring from the pages of this book.

Two properties were on their short list of places to lease (they didn't yet have the money to buy). They asked Schneider about the availability of the Inn, but at the time, the conversion to a casino was hoped to give the Inn a new chance at success. So, their search targeted the Woodlawn Hotel in Rockville. However, the Woodlawn was for sale and not for lease, and there was a strong isolationist sentiment in Rockville that would not have provided their school a warm welcome. On the way back from a trip to Rockville, their train stopped at Forest Glen, where they had their first glimpse of the Glen and the Inn.

Soon after, Schneider contacted them and told them that the Inn's plans had failed, and that the property was available after all. They met with Seymour Tullock, and then were introduced to Brainerd H. Warner, President of Columbia National Bank, who helped them raise capital. They also got a much warmer reception from Forest Glen businessmen than they had experienced in Rockville. Some of the people they met were:

  • Grover Price (owner of the General Store and Post Office)
  • J.N. Shauck (railroad stationmaster)
  • Dr. George H. Wright (owner of Carroll Springs Sanitarium)
  • William P. Miller and George M. Wolfe (storeowners in Linden).

The lease was signed on April 2, 1894. The Cassedys set to transforming the hotel from a casino to a girl's finishing school. The bars, gambling halls, and pool rooms in the hotel building were turned into parlors and classrooms. They found a great source of furnishings: the Washington auction houses, which had a good supply of items which departing ambassadors typically sold rather than take home.

The property consisted of four buildings:

  • the hotel itself (from now on called the Main Building)
  • a Maintenance building
  • a Gas House
  • a separate bowling alley and billiard room

They already had hot and cold water upstairs for baths, many bedrooms, a large kitchen and dining room, and a modern sanitary system. They built a rainwater cystern to capture water for the boilers, and they worked throughout the Summer remodeling the building to get it ready for opening day. Finally, on September 27, 1894, the National Park Seminary opened the first school year with 48 students.

The story continues...
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This page was last maintained on 05/21/98.