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February 27, 2012 Mid-Century Modern

Led Zeppelin and the Modernist Wheaton Rec Center

Wheaton Rec Center

When most people talk about the 1964 Wheaton Youth Center (now the Wheaton Community Recreation Center), they are likely discussing the question of whether Led Zeppelin played a show there in 1969 or not. (The center is said to have served as a premier spot for concerts back in the day, including Alice Cooper, Bob Seger and Rod Stewart.) I was more interested in learning who designed the modernist rec center on Georgia Avenue, so I called Clare Lise Kelly, research and designation coordinator of  the Montgomery County Planning Department’s Historic Preservation Section.

Clare said the structure was designed by one of the area’s leading modernist firms: Keyes, Lethbridge and Condon. The team, which was responsible for Carderock Springs, Potomac Overlook, Tiber Island among others, won a local AIA award of merit for the design. I love the roof line of the main gym, with its aquatic feel. The same design is carried through in the covered walkway. Reminds me of the Marina-style Safeways, some of which still dot the area. The one a bit south of the rec center on Georgia was torn town. Could the rec center meet the same fate? It could. There is discussion now about combining the rec center with the nearby library in a new structure, although it looks like the County Council has delayed decision on the proposed $35.9 project for now.

Wheaton Rec Center

Wheaton Rec Center

Wheaton Rec Center

A close up of the wavy window screens.

Wheaton Rec Center

The side of the gym. Did Led Zeppelin play in there?