Check out the story below provided to FFG from an anonymous reader!
Between 1954 and 1955, the Central Intelligence Agency began the search for a new headquarters site in the Washington DC metropolitan area. The CIA had at its founding in 1947, inherited the old OSS location on E Street in Foggy Bottom and also used the temporary buildings along the National Mall. These buildings were not only overcrowded, but were difficult to maintain and were particularly uncomfortable in DC’s extreme summer and winter temperatures.
Upon his appointment as Director of Central Intelligence in 1953, Allen
Dulles made it a priority to select a new headquarters site. For reasons of
privacy and security, a campus type setting was preferred.
The CIA evaluated more than two dozen sites: two in DC, three in Arlington,
four in Alexandria, nine in Fairfax and a full 14 in Maryland. At that time,
about half of CIA employees lived in the District, 20 percent in Maryland
and 30 percent in Virginia.
Although not part of the formal decision-making criteria, it was
well-understood that commuting time and state tax considerations for certain
locations would hurt employee morale. At that time, Maryland required
non-residents to pay a place of work tax, while DC and Virginia did not.
According to a CIA historical document, among the sites considered in
Maryland were Forest Glen, Greenbelt, Ranfer, Pooks Hill, Casey, Reich, and
Suitland. Other Maryland properties were too far from key
official points, including Gillespie, the Clinton property in Brandywine,
the Cullom property in Gaithersburg, the Whalebacker property in Odenton,
Bellpre Road, Hyattstown and at least one other location.
How did Forest Glen shape up in comparison to its rivals? On the plus side,
utility availability was excellent and public transportation was deemed
adequate. At the time, even the CIA had to concern itself with zoning rules. Based on the assessment at the time, the Forest Glen site was compatible with CIA ‘s requirements and with the existing and proposed comprehensive zoning plan.
While roads were not thought satisfactory, it was noted that a proposed east
leg addition planned for then-U.S. Route 240 would provide sufficient
access. (U.S. 240 was merged into other roads and decommissioned in 1972.)
Moreover, the area and topography were not thought to be ideal. Also, the
Forest Glen site was considered to far away from key government sites.
Part of the land belonged to the Army, so availability of the parcel would
depend upon a decision by the Department of Defense to release the land for
The exact locations are not clear from the documents, but it is possible
that the property might have included some of the DoD holdings near the 23
acre National Park Seminary, now called Walter Reed Annex Institute of
Research (Fort Detrick).
A local businessman and developer also pitched a potential Forest Glen site.
According to a declassified CIA document at the National Archives, a telegram
was sent by Isador S. Turover of Bethesda, to Harland Bartholomew, the Chairman
of the National Capital Planning Commission on November 4, 1955 regarding the Forest Glen site. Turover was a businessman who founded a large lumber company and became involved in the construction of many federal government buildings and other housing
developments. During World War II, he served with the War Production Board
and Office of Price Administration. It is speculated that he may have been one of the many
so called “Dollar-a-Year” men, paid at the rate of one dollar per year because
serving the government entirely unpaid was illegal. He also led many
programs to sell war bonds. He was also a philanthropist who worked
tirelessly on behalf of a number of charitable organizations, and he even
helped organize the purchase of the famous ship Exodus which transported
displaced Jews from Europe to Israel. He was a leading chess grandmaster
and not only directed national chess organizations, but won many chess
championships in DC and retired undefeated.
In his telegram, Turover alludes to the Cold War concerns of a Soviet
nuclear attack against DC-area targets. His note also suggests that as an
important property developer, he had been made aware of interest in
identifying potential parcels for the new CIA headquarters site. Finally,
he apparently overestimated the fraction of CIA employees living in
Maryland. He wrote:
“Since two thirds of CIA personnel reside in Maryland, consideration should
be given to an available site of 125 acres close in Montgomery County
Bounded on the South by Rock Creek Park and proposed Belt Highway, on the
North by the B&O Railroad tracks and Capital (sic) View Stations, and on the
East by the Water Reed Paraplegic Hospital at Forest Glen. Terrain Ideal
for built in underground storage and shelter facilities as well as privacy
for the CIA Installation Site Plat on File with CIA and General Services
Administration. I shall be glad to furnish additional information.”
By the Paraplegic Hospital, Turover meant the National Park Seminary site,
which the Army used for recuperation of injured soldiers. The Capitol View
Station, like the Forest Glen station, was first constructed in 1887.
Capitol View had been near Stoneybrook Drive, along the railroad tracks.
From the description, it appears that the site he describes most likely
includes the 57 acre property now occupied by the Washington DC Temple of
the LDS Church, and adjacent land including the area to the east of the
church now occupied by houses.
In 1959, the CIA broke ground on its new Headquarters on what is now 258
acres in the unincorporated community of Langley in Fairfax County,