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Oakley Cabin African American Museum and Park

Oakley Cabin

Contact Information

3610 Brookeville Road
Olney, MD 20832
General Information: 301-650-4373

Hours of Operation
Park is open year round, sunrise to sunset.
Oakley Cabin African American Museum: Open 2nd and 4th Saturdays, 12:00 – 4:00 pm with free guided tours, April through October.

EVENTS | GROUP TOURS | DIRECTIONS | VOLUNTEERS | HISTORY | THE MUSEUM AND PARK

Oakley Cabin African American Museum and Park is a 19th-century African American historic site. Built as one of three cabins adjacent to the historic Brookville Road, Oakley Cabin was the center of an African American roadside community from emancipation well into the 20th century. The dwelling, inhabited until 1976, is now operated as a living history museum. Educators will find Oakley Cabin a valuable resource in teaching local and African American history. The Oakley Cabin African American Museum and Park provides hands-on living history experiences.

NOTE: In the event of severe weather, please call ahead to make sure the park will be open. On Saturday mornings, please call 301-650-4373 and a recorded message will advise you of the park hours. Tick season is here! Be prepared when you're outdoors. Click the link to learn more about Ticks & Lyme Disease.

Events

 
Members of Griots Circle of MD, 2013Free Guided Tours
April 12 - November 1

Join us at Oakley Cabin every 2nd and 4th Saturday, April through November 1, for free guided tours of the historic cabin hosted by delightful and experienced docents.

Group Tours

Group ToursMontgomery Parks is proud to be able to offer Group & School Tours at Oakley Cabin, one of our most prominent historic sites to the public. All tours will be presented by specially trained docents who will make history come alive for your group.

Directions

Directions to Oakley Cabin

From the 495 Beltway, take the Georgia Ave (MD-97 N) exit north. Travel north on Georgia Ave (MD-97 N) for 12 miles. Continue LEFT on MD-97 N through Olney and Historic Brookeville, then make the first LEFT onto Brookeville Rd. Oakley Cabin will be less than 1 mile on your left.

ALTERNATE ROUTE : From the 495 Beltway, take Exit 28 / New Hampshire Ave (MD-650 N).
Continue north on New Hampshire Ave for 10 miles. Make a LEFT onto Olney-Sandy Spring Road (MD-108 W). Make a RIGHT onto Georgia Ave (MD-97 N). Continue LEFT on (MD-97 N) through Olney and Historic Brookeville,then make the first LEFT onto Brookeville Rd. Oakley Cabin will be less than 1 mile on your left.

Volunteers

Visitors learn historic cooking tips from volunteer reenactor Anita Henderson, 2005 Become a Volunteer Docent and make history!

Train to become a volunteer docent or tour guide at Oakley Cabin. Oakley Cabin survives today as a living monument to an African American experience that is fast disappearing into the past. Programming at this unique African American historic site centers on promoting awareness of and education about the Reconstruction Era, the free black rural communities that appeared after the Civil War, and how these small communities evolved and influenced the larger culture.

Volunteer docents provide tours of the historic cabin, sharing with visitors of all ages the rich history of the people who lived there, the cabin, and a general history of the local area of Brookeville and Montgomery County. Volunteers docents must be 16 years of age or older.

Apply online at ParksVolunteers.org to become a volunteer docent. SSL hours are eligible. For more information, contact Shirl.Spicer@montgomeryparks.org.

Volunteer for special events at Oakley Cabin!

Become a part of history! Come join a terrific group of history lovers and become an Oakley Cabin special event volunteer. Volunteer to help with hands-on activities or old-fashioned games for children and more during Oakley Cabin's special events held April through the first weekend in November. Volunteers are needed at the Opening Day Celebration (April), Montgomery County Heritage Days (June), and the Maryland Emancipation Day Celebration (November).

For more information, call 301-650-4373. Special event volunteers must be 13 years of age or older. To become a special events volunteer, please apply online at ParksVolunteers.org. SSL hours are eligible.

History

Oakley Cabin was originally part of the Oakley Farm, which occupied part of Colonel Richard Brooke’s large land tract known as “Addition to Brooke Grove.” Brooke was a Revolutionary War hero known as “the Fighting Quaker.” He built the “big house” called Oakley in 1764, which was destroyed in the 1970s.

Brooke, who died in 1788, willed all his property to his only child, Ann, who later married William Hammond Dorsey. They had five children. Like her father, Ann and William never lived on the Oakley Farm. Instead William built their home, Dumbarton Oaks, in Georgetown. When Ann died in 1802, William sold all of his Georgetown property and moved to Oakley. William died in 1818. The Dorseys’ son, Richard B. Dorsey, transformed Oakley into a farm, on which his 23 slaves worked.

Dr. William Bowie Margruder bought Oakley farm in 1836. A local doctor to both white and black families, Margruder owned 19 slaves to help farm the land. Prior to 1879, two more cabins were built on the property. Oakley Cabin is the only remaining one. After Dr. Margruder died in 1873, Josiah J. Hutton purchased the farm.

The 1½-story Oakley Cabin has a stone chimney with brick stack. Oak and chestnut logs are joined with dovetail joints and chinked with stones, now largely covered with cement. There are two rooms divided by a bead board partition wall. A boxed staircase leads to the upper loft.

According to census records from 1880 to 1920, between 22 to 37 people lived in the three cabins. The residents were both black and white, with jobs ranging from farm laborers and carpenters to blacksmiths and laundresses. The cabins formed a small roadside community that likely shared household tasks and sold produce and hand-made articles to travelers on the Brookeville Road. It represented a cross-section of cultures that make up the unique African American folk experience.

The Museum and Park

Oakley Cabin is a museum furnished to depict the various periods of its history and development. The ground floor room represents communal life at the cabin, centering around the open hearth. In the small adjoining room are displayed the 19th century tools and artifacts excavated in archeological digs at the cabin. Archaeologists are currently piecing together the evidence to try and date the construction of the cabin.

The oak and chestnut log cabin is a reflection of vernacular architecture and excellent craftsmanship through its dove-tailed notching and artful pegging. The rafters on the roof are “bird-mouthed” over the top log that serves as a plate. The floor of the first level sits on a double sill with a notch in the foundation to allow two logs – one for the floor and one for the wall.

The cabin sits on a 2-acre tract that is part of a larger park running along Reddy Branch. The mill pond for Newlin’s Mill was located in the low area behind the cabin. A trail, partially laid inside the old millrace, leads from the cabin to the site of the mill at the intersection of Brookeville Road and Georgia Avenue. Numerous wild plants can be seen, many of which are edible or medicinal and were used by local people. Hawks, foxes, deer, raccoons and other wildlife can often be seen from the cabin or trail. The trail also passes stone quarries used to dig local stone.

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