A Literary Thrill at Rockville


I have previously written about VisArts (here) and Beall-Dawson House (here), two sites near the Rockville Metro station. Another point of interest is St. Mary’s Catholic Church, located right next to the Metro and MARC Train stations.

The church’s cemetery is where F. Scott Fitzgerald, author of such classics as The Great Gatsby, is buried. When I stopped by, his grave was adorned with flowers, pens, and liquor. Readers clearly have been making pilgrimages to pay their respects; interest in the landmark particularly spiked after The Great Gatsby movie came out in theaters in 2013.

F. Scott Fitzgerald's grave at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Rockville, MD. Rainy, covered with flowers, a few pens, a couple bottles of alcohol.

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s grave at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Rockville, MD

St. Mary’s is also a literary point of interest due to its role in the children’s novel Stealing Freedom by Elisa Carbone. Stealing Freedom tells the story of 13-year-old slave Ann Maria Weems, who escaped to freedom in Canada in the 1850s. Before her escape, historical records indicate she may have worshiped at St. Mary’s (where she would have had to stay in the loft reserved for slaves as well as free African Americans), and it is a recurring setting in the book. The smaller historical church stands to this day, while a more modern-looking building has been added as well for the still-active congregation.

Carbone is a local author, and a member of the Children’s Book Guild of Washington, DC. I heard her speak at the Guild’s luncheon back in 2005. Stealing Freedom takes place almost entirely in Maryland and DC, and Carbone’s research included using visiting St. Mary’s as well as the Montgomery County Historical Society (which maintains Beall-Dawson House as a museum), among other resources.

Rockville is not hopping with tourism and nightlife like parts of downtown DC, but it does serve as its county seat and offer a couple museums, historical points of interest, and restaurants and a movie theater. I also associate this station with Montgomery College, which I traveled to by Metro-plus-bus for a few classes in the years between college and grad school. While the REM song “Don’t Go Back to Rockville” often played in my head during the long commute after a long class session after a long workday, there have been some good reasons to go back to Rockville after all.

Rockville is on the Red Line.

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About Laura

Paralegal with Master of Arts in Teaching in Museum Education, frequent museum visitor, based in Washington, DC. I care about what museums can do, both in terms of public offerings and internal practices, to make the world a better place. I blog about museum education ("informed"), the social work of museums ("humane"), and visitor experience ("citizenry").
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