History of Medicine
At the time of the first European explorations, no Native American settlements existed in this area. The land was as it had been for millennia, heavily forested and largely unoccupied when, in the early 18th century, planters, seeking new land for tobacco growing, moved inland from the older Tidewater areas. The NLM area was part of two landgrants, “Clagett’s Purchase” and “Huntington”, made to Thomas Fletchall in 1715. By 1783 most of the land had been cleared and is described in the tax list for that year as “much worn”, probably from tobacco cultivation. The land was then owned by Robert Peter, one of the wealthiest men in Montgomery County and the first mayor of Georgetown.
Courtesy Library of Congress. Geography and Map Division.
An 1894 map shows a short lane leading from Rockville Pike to Winona (“Dr. A. Peters”[sic]). (See also the 1879 map in the Gingle display). Jones Bridge Road, across the Pike, was later straightened to cross the Pike just north of the Winona site. “Geo. Dunlop,” near Jones Bridge Road, marks Hayes, a house built in the 1760s and still standing. The Dunlops were also descendants of Robert Peter.
Robert Peter’s descendants married into the first families of the new Republic. Robert’s son, Thomas, married Martha Parke Custis, Martha Washington’s granddaughter. Their Georgetown home, Tudor Place, still stands. In 1873, Thomas and Martha’s granddaughter, Martha Custis Kennon, and her husband, Armistead Peter, a descendent of Robert Peter’s son, George, inherited the Bethesda land and built a summer home called Winona on this site. Armistead was a physician who was in charge of a smallpox hospital during the Civil War.
Portraits Courtesy Tudor Place Foundation, Inc.,
After Armistead's death in 1902, the land was divided among his four children. His son, Beverley Kennon Peter, inherited the house itself and surrounding 116 acres. Another son, George Freeland Peter, built a summer home on his part of the inherited land in 1930. It is now called the Stone House and is a part of NIH.