The Friends of Warner Circle
Warner Circle Park News Update!
On January 31, 2019, Washington Landmark Construction (WLC) presented a proposal for use of the buildings at Warner Circle Park to the Friends of Warner Circle, the first public presentation following its Letter of Intent to Montgomery County Parks and Planning. The process continued with a public meeting in Kensington on May 14, 2019, at which WLC's proposal was well-received.
Since then, WLC has been working with the relevant County agencies to have its proposal approved, hoping to move forward with the rehabilitation and renovation of Warner Mansion and Carriage House as condominium buildings. (Note: the building plans in the Presentation are not final or binding in any way, but were meant to illustrate the proposed usage.)
NOW, in May 2021, more than two years after the initial community meeting about the proposal, the Friends of Warner Circle and the Town of Kensington are asking the Montgomery County government to take action on this proposal before the buildings at Warner undergo further deterioration. Please read the FOWC Petition linked HERE, and sign it if you agree with the points made. You can reach FOWC with any questions or comments HERE.
1. The WLC proposal will in no way affect public use of the Warner grounds, which is officially and for all time "Warner Circle Park." The Park is widely used for an extraordinary array of purposes and that will continue! Events like Opera in the Circle and Pumpkin Rock 'n Roll ... the proposed Reading Garden leading to Noyes Children's Library and the Noyes StoryWalks® ... fitness classes and art sessions ... these are only some of the diverse ways this land is used and enjoyed.
2. In the 16 years since Montgomery Parks acquired the Warner property, no other valid proposal has been presented. WLC, as "tenant" of the historic buildings, will be responsible for the over $5 million required to make the buildings usable - and that is money that Montgomery County has not been and will not be able to allocate.
3. The WLC proposal has the support of all stakeholders: the Montgomery County Historic Preservation Commission and the Maryland Historical Trust, as well as the District 18 state delegates. The Mayor and Town Council of Kensington have unanimously voiced their support for the proposal, both in a 2019 resolution and in a resolution they approved at a Town Council meeting on May 10, 2021. Following that Resolution, the Friends of Warner Circle (FOWC) has created a petition to urge County Executive Marc Elrich to sign off on the WLC proposal and move the project forward.
About the Friends: Engaging the Community to Advocate for Warner
Warner Circle Special Park sits on 4.5 acres located in the heart of the Kensington Historic District, right across the street from Noyes Children's Library. Brainard Warner, the founder of the town and of Noyes, and a significant figure in the development of Montgomery County and Washington, DC, lived with his family in the Warner Mansion.
Maryland-National Capital Parks & Planning Commission ("Parks") acquired the site in 2005-2006 through the Legacy Open Space program to preserve the historic landscape that has served as de facto public parkland for decades, and to preserve the historic buildings by providing a public benefit through their adaptive reuse.
The property is a primary resource in the Kensington Historic District, listed on the Montgomery County Master Plan for Historic Preservation and the National Register of Historic Places. It includes an 1893-1914 Queen Anne House and a 1914 carriage house. The site was a private residence until the late 1940s when it was converted into a nursing home. The Brainard Warner Manor is one of 117 historic structures located in Montgomery County Parks.
Since 2006, Parks has worked closely with the community to identify an appropriate use for the Warner Mansion and Carriage House and to get the word out to prospective tenants. While a tenant has not yet been found, the Friends of Warner Circle - made up of residents with a wide range of backgrounds and skills - has dedicated itself to moving the search forward. Partners in this effort include the Town of Kensington, Kensington Historical Society, Warner Reading Garden Committee, and the Noyes Children's Library Foundation.
The Friends of Warner Circle is a group of local residents who are working together to promote the beneficial future use, good stewardship, and public enjoyment of this historic cultural landscape and its buildings. You can read the Friend's Principles HERE.
If you’d like to learn more or get involved, contact the Friends of Warner Circle.
A Day in the Life of the Future Warner Circle
The vision for Warner Circle Park is of a thriving property, restored and renovated according to accepted historic preservation principles, engaging Kensington residents and visitors through use of the Park's green space for daily activities and special events; use of public spaces in the Mansion for community meetings and social gatherings; and use of the rest of the Mansion and Carriage House for a productive purpose that is in keeping with the guidelines created by the Parks Department through community meetings.
The community has already taken steps toward this vision with its Warner Reading Garden Committee; with the popular and exciting Pumpkin Rock 'n Roll event for the past three Halloweens; and with daily use by families, school groups, dog walkers, painters, Noyes patrons, and more. To get involved in making the vision a reality, click HERE to email the Friends of Warner Circle!