The building that now houses Gaithersburg's City government offices and Council chambers was originally a private residence built in 1895 by Rosa and Henry Miller. In 1913, this five-acre estate was purchased by Edward P. Schwartz, a successful realtor from Washington, D. C. The distinguished country property was replete with tennis courts, a cook's cottage, a two-car garage, a windmill and a pump house. The Schwartz home was the first residence to be supplied with the luxurious amenity of electricity. The Victorian house remained a residence until it was purchased by the City in 1958 and turned into the Gaithersburg Civic Center, or City Hall.
In addition to being a successful real estate broker, Edward Schwartz was an enthusiastic amateur gardner. Adjacent to his home and extending to the railroad tracks and to Hutton Street, Schwartz cultivated what came to be known as the "World Famous Schwartz Peony Garden." Gaithersburg was already regarded as a country retreat for Washington D. C. residents, and the gardens drew numerous vacationers during their peak bloom in late May. The garden was comprised of more than 40,000 blooms from 410 varieties of peonies from around the world. Notable visitors to the elaborate display included President Woodrow Wilson and Mr. Gilbert Grosvenor, President of National Geographic Society, who took extensive photos of the impressive peony collection. Visible from the railroad tracks, the garden attracted the attention of train passengers who crowded to witness one of the largest peony gardens in the nation. The peonies were later painstakingly transplanted to Seneca Creek State Park. In 2004, some of the peonies were relocated to Gaithersburg History Park.
(Caption of the top photo): The Schwartz House
(Caption of the bottom photo): The Schwartz Peony Garden, early 1900's