Last updated: 5/2/2012
3610 Brookeville, Rd.Olney, MD 20832
1109 Spring Street, Suite, 800Silver Spring, MD 20910
2nd and 4th Saturdays
To request a guided tour of the cabin during the week, please contact 301-650-4373.
Now owned by the Montgomery County Department of Parks, the cabin has been fully restored and furnished to depict the various periods of its history.
Programming at this unique African American architectural and cultural site centers on promoting awareness of and education about slavery, and the free Black rural neighborhoods that appeared after the Civil War and how these small communities evolved and influenced the larger culture.
This cultural history resource is open with trained volunteers on each 2nd and 4th Saturday, April through October, from noon to 4pm, and by appointment. There are two annual events at the Cabin: Montgomery County Heritage Days (last full weekend in June) and Maryland Emancipation Day (first Saturday in November).
The historic Oakley Cabin survives today as a living monument to a culture and an American folk experience that is fast disappearing into the past. Built during the 1800s the Dorsey farm called Oakley, the 1 ½ story log cabin was one of three cabins that were at the center of a small roadside free Black community.
Oakley Cabin was acquired by the Montgomery County Department of Parks in 1969. There was a resident in the house at that time and he was allowed to stay. After the resident left the Cabin it was damaged by arson in 1986. It was fully restored by a company well versed in historic restoration. They used tools and techniques from the period of original construction and replaced some of the interior wood with pieces from a barn of the same date. Antique and reproduction items were purchased to furnish the Cabin to represent the 1880-1910 period of its history. The Cabin was opened to the public by appointment only and for special programs in 1996. The first annual celebration of the emancipation of enslaved persons in Maryland (November 1, 1864) was held on November 1, 1998.
The Cabin opened to the public on a regular basis, once a month in 2001; and opened to the public every Saturday afternoon April through October in 2002. Trained, volunteer docents provide guided tour of the Cabin. The Friends of Oakley Cabin and the Underground Railroad, a non-profit support group, was formed in 2001 to provide research and programming support for Oakley Cabin.
The Cabin is furnished to the 1890 to 1910 period when there were many people of African American descent living in the area along Brookeville Road between the Oakley Farm and the Jones Farm – forming a roadside community. The people who lived in the cabin would have been poor, so would not have had many possessions. Items in the Cabin would have been mainly for practical use. Some would have been hand-made. Some would have been items thrown away by the more affluent people who employed the Oakley Cabin residents. Although most people listed their occupation as “farm laborer” or “keeping house,” it is known from census records that a carpenter and a laundress lived at the Cabin at one time, and there examples of tools that they would have used in their trades on display. Local lore holds that the Swailes family was famous for their craft in making baskets. It is known that members of the family lived in the Cabin, so we have one authentic “Swailes Basket” as well as a number of other baskets.
The research collection for this property is housed in the offices of Montgomery Parks. The collection includes archaeological research and artifacts.
Oakley Cabin's educational programming is supported by a corps of volunteer docents and demonstrators. Oakley Cabin docents receive free classroom and on-site training and materials. Special Annual events are held at the cabin: Opening Day Celebration (April); Montgomery County Heritage Days (June); Back in Grandma's Day (September); and Maryland Emancipation Day (November). These events are free and open to the public. Montgomery Parks also offers several badge workshops for Junior GirlScouts. Contact the office for details.
Volunteer docents have training sessions every year in March. School tours and tours for groups are provided on request. A Teacher Packet (also one on the local Underground Railroad) for 4th/5th grades is given out on request. Special Acitity Days, invloving participatory demonstrations of activities and crafts of the period, are held on five Saturdays a year. No fees.
Access: Students, Scholars, Members
Appointment required: Yes