a Chevy Chase, Maryland, Landmark
Rossdhu Gate is all that remains of a grand estate built by Mrs. Daisy Calhoun, a socially active Washington matron, with her third wealthy husband, Clarence Crittenden Calhoun, a Washington lawyer. In 1926, the couple purchased almost 100 acres, all of what is now the Rollingwood section of Chevy Chase (considered a rural area then) after their offer fell through to purchase the land that is currently the British Embassy in Washington, DC. Daisy’s dream was to evoke the memory of the Calhoun clan's stronghold, Rossdhu Castle, a 15th-century stone castle that rose from a promontory on the west side of Loch Lomond in Scotland, hence the Gaelic Rossdhu, which literally means "headland dark". Sir John Colquhoun 15th of Luss was knighted by Mary, Queen of Scots, who twice stayed at Rossdhu Castle, which is mentioned in the mysterious "Casket Letters", her alleged secret correspondence with Bothwell.
Daisy and Clarence Calhoun held their castle's grand opening celebration New Year's Eve, 1927. The 30-room castle sat on a hill facing Rock Creek Park (now a cul-de-sac named Rossdhu Court). The gatehouse, bordering a large pond named Wee Loch Lomond, was used for winter entertaining when ice-skating was in season. Daisy referred to it as Braemar Lodge. She had christened the land Braemar Forest, in honor of her own Scottish ancestors (House of Mar). It is said that a stone from the original 11th-century castle ruins of Robert the Bruce is set somewhere in the Gatehouse.
The crash of 1929 brought an end to the lifestyle the Calhouns enjoyed. To raise money, they used the castle as a night club beginning in 1931, but it was too far from downtown to succeed. By 1935 the Calhouns were penniless and Daisy was forced to move into the gatehouse after her huband's death. The castle, gatehouse, and nine acres were auctioned in 1939 for $40,000 and the castle was converted into apartments. In 1947 the land was rezoned for single family dwellings and the castle became vacant with no buyers. Sadly it had to be demolished in 1957 when the county told the owners, "Either put a fence around it to keep out the vandals or tear it down!"
Mr. and Mrs. Bert Williams, who owned Grandma's Attic (an antique store in Chevy Chase Lake) occupied the gatehouse from 1939 until the 1970s. Following his death in 1974 and hers in 1977, the gatehouse was purchased by a young couple who quickly became overwhelmed with repair costs and lost it to the bank. A contractor then bought it, refurbished it and sold it to Frank and Jeanne Broulik in 1979. It is currently owned by their youngest child, Jan, and partner, Joe Phillips.
Cito maturum - cito putridum!