Belward Farm, located at the intersection of Darnestown and Muddy Branch Roads, is one of the last remaining pieces of undeveloped farmland left in the Gaithersburg/Rockville area. Developers have been drooling over these 138 rolling acres for years, but owner Elizabeth Beall Banks spent most of her life fighting to protect the land. According to an article in the Washington Post, "Banks once scared county planning officials off her land with a shotgun. Another time she stood in front of bulldozers, hugging trees to stop development around her. She turned down numerous lucrative offers to turn the grassy fields into a housing development." Banks, who died on January 17, 2005, eventually sold her land for $5 million (when at the time it was worth $40 million+) to Johns Hopkins University.
The old house located on this property was built by Ignatius Ward in 1891 to replace an earlier structure that burned down. This house is a great example of a 19th-century farmhouse with Victorian features. The photo on the left was taken in 1974.