March 8, 2023

‘Remembering Rockwood’ Online Presentation of Montgomery History on Tuesday, March 14, Will Look at History of Historic Property Near Great Falls

Before it was a Montgomery County park and event destination, Rockwood Manor Special Park near Great Falls was a grand estate. It later became a national Girl Scout camp and was the subject of a loud public fight over its future. That is part of its history of more than a century, which will be discussed in Montgomery History’s special online presentation Remembering Rockwood at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, March 14.

The presentation will be led by author Ann Robertson. She will share why Rockwood was so important to save. When Girl Scouts USA sold the camp to residential developers, neighbors and individual Girl Scouts fought to stop the sale.

To register to view the presentation, go to

In 1920, Carolyn Gangwer Caughey (pronounced “Coy”) ventured out of Washington, D.C., west along the Old Conduit Road (MacArthur Boulevard) to her newly purchased estate near Great Falls. Tall cedars, poplars and oaks covered rock studded hills rolling gently down to a stream valley. The natural elements immediately suggested to Mrs. Caughey a name for her country estate: Rockwood.

A wealthy socialite whose ancestry dates back to the American Revolution, Carolyn was a skillful businesswoman with a love for architecture and a keen knack for moneymaking in real estate. Who’s Who in the Nation’s Capital listed her as “active in civic betterment, especially related to better constructed and better-planned homes.” It also credited her with designing one of the largest apartment houses in the Nation’s Capital at that time. She designed and personally supervised the construction of her new home. Frequent visits to auctions and antique dealers in the area helped her to furnish her country estate.

Mrs. Caughey willed it to the Girl Scouts in 1936. From 1939 to 1979, Rockwood Manor was the site of the Girl Scout National Center. In 1983, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission began operating the park as a conference and education center.

Rockwood Manor is now operated by Montgomery Parks. It is adjacent to Great Falls National Park and features the Rockwood Manor Retreats and Events, serves as a unique retreat ideal for weddings, meetings and small conferences. The park also features a variety of overnight accommodations, including dormitories for youth groups.