Monday, May 20, 2013

Historic Meadowbrook Stables

Meadowbrook Stables never intended to be a "hold out" but now sandwiched between cookie-cutter housing developments and what little green space is left inside Washington, D.C.'s Beltway, it's the one of only a handful of stables left in the concrete jungle that circles our nation's Capitol.

Some records claim it was built in 1930, others 1934, but at the time it was one of the finest.  Now sitting on about 10 acres in Rock Creek Park not far from Connecticut Avenue in Chevy Chase, Maryland, the property still possesses glimpses of its illustrious past.  The farm is Federal but is run by the Maryland National Capitol Parks and Planning Commission (MNCPPC); they lease the land to someone to run the stable which houses a riding academy as well as private boarding.  Many of the riders compete in local and rated horse shows in the region.  There are about 50 horses on the property today.  And there are "rules" that aren't quite the norm in most horse properties.

Tractors can't come out before 7 am.  Loudspeakers are not allowed to be used until 9 am (not an issue except the three times a year the facility hosts horse shows).  An ornery neighbor likes to complain about the dust from the ring even though she can't see the facility from her house. Manure has to be picked up and removed, a huge expense.  And being in the "city" lends itself to watching out for people who wander in "just to look" but most likely know nothing about being around horses.  The property had a facelift about 7-8 years ago and looks great, but in keeping with its historical roots.  Renovations must be "approved" following a strict code.  But the modern touches do exist, like the outdoor lighting that is used in winter months.

The property was the site of the first official raising of the D.C. flag seven years after its completion.  It was "originally established by the Meadowbrook Saddle Club to encourage Olympic-type equestrian events and to make open country riding possible for city residents."  (From a plaque located outside the barn).  

Pegasus Stables once existed a few blocks away but was torn down to make way for housing.  Pegasus was the public barn for recreational riders while Meadowbrook was the private barn where the ambassadors kept their horses those who were more serious show riders.  The Chevy Chase Country Club (just a few blocks away) used the stables to board their members' horses.  And the Meadowbrook Hunt once existed, with many members riding from this site, if you can imagine a fox hunting club existing today inside the Beltway.

I took a photo of an old magazine article dated from the 30's and there were no big trees, no houses anywhere in site, and these jumps are huge (riders and horses were bolder back then).

This is the old farrier shed that still exists on the property today, much like it did way back then.  The same tree is also there, only much smaller.  And the lovely old stone fireplace is still there as well!  

The inside of the barn is charming and part of the space was once an apartment, house, area used by the hunt club.  There is an old newspaper article showing a group of riders in tweed coats and breeches hanging around this old stone fireplace with drinks.  Probably talking about a good day's hunting. Today this is part of the tack room and office.

Another old photo from the past:

Not sure when this one was taken:

The barn is old but still charming and the horses look happy. It is cool in summer and warm in winter according to those who know...

Today the barn has all the amenities you would want, like good outdoor (and indoor) wash stalls:

The old stone foundation still encircles the entire structure:

 Upstairs in the "loft" is a tack shop and more storage. Supposedly, the hunt held their formal hunt balls upstairs too.

 The barn has a round pen (for lunging) and turn out:

 The three rings have good footing:

 And the landscaping is lovely!

Another old photo/article showed Calvary riders jumping their horses (from Chile) at a show (date unknown) at Meadowbrook, as a warm-up for the Washington International Horse Show. What a past this place has!  If only these stalls could talk!


  1. Last week I was in Silver Spring, MD and all around Montgomery County doing genealogical research into my husband's family. There were many farriers/blacksmiths in the family. If only I had known about this. Maybe next trip.
    It was a lovely post on all counts. Thank you.

  2. I had a friend who boarded there. My husband and I were lucky to be able to ride w/her in the park a few years ago. We still talk about it.


  3. I forgot to ask - Isn't Rock Creek Park Horse Center w/in the beltway too?

    1. RCP is more of a "rental" facility. They don't teach lessons, don't ride the show circuit and is not nearly as nice as Meadowbrook.

  4. Rock Creek Park Horse Center is in DC proper.

  5. I'm fairly certain they do lessons:

    I agree though the facility isn't as nice or has the historic appeal but I think that it means there are 2 barns w/in the beltway.

  6. “If only these stalls could talk!” - I'm sure they have the greatest story to tell us. Reading your post is like having a tour from the past, and I realized that this stable is definitely one treasure that's worth keeping. No wonder the management, or owner, keep on renovating it from time to time. It is to make sure they preserve the beauty of the stable and keep the horses in a safe environment as well. Audra Dahlke @

  7. It is amazing to see that such horse centers are still around. They may not all be posh and have all the amenities, but it is a nice environment.

  8. I was born in 1944 and we lived right across the road from the stables on Meadowbrook Lane until I was 8 or 9. It was my first introduction to horses and I've been in love ever since. A stable boy put me up bareback on an Appy once and walked me around the dry lot. I did get to ride out of the Pegasus stables a few times but then we moved into the District and I got involved in playing ball. At the young age of 71 I am now finally riding again. Thanks for the memories.

  9. Actually, Pegasus was the kid barn, Meadowbrook was for adults.


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