Since You Asked: Sept.-Oct. 2011

Since You Asked: Sept.-Oct. 2011

How Round House Theatre got its name and other curiosities about the area.

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How did Round House Theatre get its name?

—Mark Walston, Olney

The theater company originally opened as Street 70 in 1970, and functioned without a permanent home for seven years, according to Round House Associate Producer Danisha Crosby. In 1977, it moved into what had been the Bushey Drive Elementary School in Silver Spring. The building was round, and the Round House name came shortly after the move, Crosby says. Though the theater company moved from the round building to its current rectangular home in Bethesda in 2002, and opened a new (also rectangular) theater in Silver Spring in 2003, the name has remained.

A neighbor who grew up here told me there was a Frito plant on Elm Street and Arlington Road in the 1940s. What was its exact location?

—Susan Rubel, Bethesda

The Frito Capital Company was at 4860 Bethesda Ave.—the current location of the Apple Store—according to a 1949 telephone directory in the Montgomery County Historical Society library.

Frito-Lay spokeswoman Aurora Gonzalez says the plant was purchased by H.W. Lay & Company in the 1950s, and that it made Fritos corn chips until a new plant in Brentwood, Md., replaced it in about 1963.

William M. Offutt, author of Bethesda: A Social History (1995), recalls the plant being served by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. He says the scent of Fritos chips baking “added a very distinct smell to the neighborhood.”

What’s going to happen to the property now housing the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) on Sangamore Road in Bethesda when the NGA moves to Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County, Va.?

—Clare Cumberland, Bethesda

The 3,000 NGA employees at the 39-acre, five-building Sangamore Road facility have been moving since January to Fort Belvoir’s Springfield, Va., campus. The move is in accordance with the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) commission’s orders. NGA spokesman Marshall Hudson says, “The last guy here will shut the lights off in September.”

The facility won’t sit empty for long. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) is redeveloping the site as an “intelligence community campus” that likely will house the same number of workers as previously, ODNI spokesman Michael Birmingham says. Plans call for employees from multiple intelligence agencies to call the campus home, and an additional building may be added, Birmingham says. Employees could start moving there during the 2012 federal fiscal year, which starts on Oct. 1. 

Have a question you’d like answered about someone or something in the Bethesda area? Email your question to sinceyouasked@bethesdamagazine.com. Please include your name and the city in which you live.

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