Early Family Businesses
— Silver Heritage Georgia Avenue —
"...A Full Line of Dry Goods and Clothing"
was available at Moses Sclar's Grand Leader Store (8221 Georgia Avenue), which opened in 1926 and adjoined John and Joseph Dolan's project (see opposite side) to the south. In operation for over a quarter century, this Jewish family-owned business was run with the assistance of Moses' wife, Catherine, and their children Ada, Reuben, Fannie, and Jacob.
Mr. Sclar, orphaned at the age of nine, emigrated from Russia to the U.S. in 1909 and settled in Pennsylvania where he worked as a merchant. In 1926 when he learned that a community in Maryland named Silver Spring had no department store, he packed up his wares and moved. Joined later by his wife and children, his new shop was an early success with farmers who came to town on Saturday evenings to buy shoes, clothing and dry goods.
Because there were no synagogues in Silver Spring, many Jewish couples were married in the Sclar's apartment located over the store. Rabbis from Washington D.C. would officiate at the ceremonies. The Grand Leader's original ground floor bay display case windows, second floor balcony, and facade remain intact.
Sidebar: Sparkling Spring to Community
Welcome to Historic Silver Spring. Georgia Avenue, one of our two original main streets, was constructed in the early 19th century as the Seventh Street Turnpike, a dirt road connection Washington City to Brookeville, Md. A village named Sligo, established in the 1830s by Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Workers from County Sligo, Ireland, was located at the corner of Georgia and Colesville Road, our other main street.
A mica-flecked spring discovered in 1840 by U.S. presidential advisor Francis Preston Blair while riding his horse Selim, inspired the name of Blair's estate Silver Spring, constructed near the Spring's site.
Silver Spring's original Baltimore & Ohio Railroad station, built in 1878, formed the nucleus from which today's community radiated. The majority of these early-to-mid 20th century buildings still grace Georgia Avenue and Colesville Road and their many side streets. Explore the area and discover the fascinating history of the pioneering entrepreneurs, businesses, and institutions that developed our vibrant and diverse community.
Learn more about Historic Downtown Silver Spring at www.sshistory.org