Rockville man’s historical collection destroyed in recent flooding

Rockville home with historical collection flooded.
“Everything on the first shelf is ruined, I mean these books are basically putrefying by this point,” Ed Grosvenor of Rockville, Md. said, staring at one of his bookshelves. Among the books he lost, was one signed by former president Theodore Roosevelt, and several first edition books which give first hand stories about America’s founding fathers.

Currently, Ed Grosvenor and his wife are working around the clock to figure out what can be saved, but he fears what this will mean for the future of the online magazine.

For historian Edwin Grosvenor, when a quick wall of water inundated his basement, it took with it many priceless books and pieces of art, which he uses to tell America’s story.

Weeks before the storm, Ed Grosvenor had moved items from his mother’s home and his son’s belongings into the basement. Many of those items now sit in large trash bags in his backyard.
Weeks before the storm, Ed Grosvenor had moved items from his mother’s home and his son’s belongings into the basement. Many of those items now sit in large trash bags in his backyard.

(1/4)
Rockville home with historical collection flooded.
Weeks before the storm, Ed Grosvenor had moved items from his mother’s home and his son’s belongings into the basement. Many of those items now sit in large trash bags in his backyard.

The deadly flash flooding caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ida last week in Rockville, Maryland, destroyed what many families spent their lives building.

When a quick wall of water inundated historian Edwin Grosvenor’s basement, it took with it many priceless books and pieces of art, which he uses to tell America’s story.

“This just breaks my heart,” said Grosvenor, as he moved books — some of which date back hundreds of years — into a box that will go into the trash.

Grosvenor was out of town when the storm sent almost 5 feet of water in only a few minutes into his home’s backyard on Crawford Drive. The wall of water then seeped through his basement door, filling his library and home office with over 2 feet of water.

Grosvenor is the publisher of American Heritage, a 72-year-old magazine dedicated to covering the history of the United States. Much of the work featured in the now-online-only magazine comes from his vast collection of books and documents, some of which Ida has now destroyed.

“It’s really ironic because we’ve covered all these disasters for 72 years — hurricane, floods, you know. David McCullough was an editor for us and wrote an article on Johnstown floods, which then became his bestselling book. So we’ve covered all these disasters, and now it hits us here in Rockville,” Grosvenor said.

The waters also destroyed some of the historical art he has collected over the past decades, including a 300-year-old engraving of Henry VIII on which a water line was visible.

He said crowbars had to be used to open the filing cabinets, where he kept his documents, because the water that made its way inside caused the contents of the paper cabinets to expand.

For Grosvenor and his family, the heartache caused by the flood was also compounded by the loss of irreplaceable family keepsakes.

Weeks before the storm, Grosvenor had moved items from his mother’s home and his son’s belongings into the basement. Many of those items now sit in large trash bags in his backyard.

“We’ve been going through our photographs, trying to peel them apart and save them, but we’ve lost really a lot,” Grosvenor said.

Grosvenor’s home is just down the street from Rock Creek Woods Apartments, where a 19-year-old man lost his life when floodwaters entered his apartment. One hundred and fifty others at the complex were left without homes because of the storm waters.

Grosvenor feels that the flooding on his street is a result of inadequate storm-drainage systems in the neighborhood.

Currently, Grosvenor and his wife are working around the clock to figure out what can be saved, but he fears what this will mean for the future of the online magazine.

He said he is thankful for the support he has received from friends, family and readers of the magazine, with some people donating money to help.

“It’s just stuff, you know, I guess, but it’s heartbreaking still,” he said.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow WTOP on Twitter and Instagram to engage in conversation about this article and others.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2021 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan tours storm damage in Edgewater on Thursday, Sept. 2. (Courtesy Maryland Governor’s Office)

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan tours storm damage in Edgewater on Thursday, Sept. 2. (Courtesy Maryland Governor’s Office)

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan tours storm damage in Edgewater on Thursday, Sept. 2. (Courtesy Maryland Governor’s Office)

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan tours storm damage in Edgewater on Thursday, Sept. 2. (Courtesy Maryland Governor’s Office)

A tornado flipped a truck in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. (WTOP/John Domen)

A house was shifted 10 to 15 feet from its foundation in Anne Arundel County after a tornado hit. (WTOP/John Domen)

Route 26/Liberty Rd bridge, the Monicacy River flows way over its banks. It crossed 26 near the east end, so the bridge is closed.

Route 26/Liberty Rd bridge, the Monicacy River flows way over its banks. It crossed 26 near the east end, so the bridge is closed.

(WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Michaels Mill Road in Buckeystown is closed, just off Route 80, because Monocacy River is over its banks on Thursday, Sept. 2.

The bridge on Route 26 over the Monocacy River is closed. The river is over its banks — and across the road, here — and is expected to be all day on Thursday Sept. 2.

Ballenger Creek is over its banks, and nearing the bridge that carries Route 85/Buckeystown Pike on Thursday, Sept. 2.

(WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
(WTOP/Jason Fraley) (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Damage from the tornado is seen in Anne Arundel County on Sept. 1, 2021. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)

Damage from the tornado is seen in Anne Arundel County on Sept. 1, 2021. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)

Tornado damage on Mill Swamp Road in Anne Arundel on Wednesday evening. Power lines are seen down. Dozens of 40-foot trees snapped with only ten foot spikes left. (WTOP/Joel Oxley)

Tornado damage on Mill Swamp Road in Anne Arundel on Wednesday evening. Power lines are seen down. Dozens of 40-foot trees snapped with only ten foot spikes left.

Tornado damage on Mill Swamp Road in Anne Arundel on Wednesday evening. Power lines are seen down. Dozens of 40-foot trees snapped with only ten foot spikes left.

Damage from the tornado is seen in Anne Arundel County on Sept. 1, 2021. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)

Damage from the tornado is seen in Anne Arundel County on Sept. 1, 2021. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)

Damage from the tornado is seen in Anne Arundel County on Sept. 1, 2021. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)

Damage from the tornado is seen in Anne Arundel County on Sept. 1, 2021. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)

Damage from the tornado is seen in Anne Arundel County on Sept. 1, 2021. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)

Damage from the tornado is seen in Anne Arundel County on Sept. 1, 2021. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)

Debris is strewn along West Street in Annapolis, Md., Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021, after severe weather moved through the area. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Debris is strewn along West Street in Annapolis, Md., Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021, after severe weather moved through the area. (AP/Susan Walsh)

Debris is strewn along West Street in Annapolis, Md., Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021, after severe weather moved through the area. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Debris is strewn along West Street in Annapolis, Md., Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021, after severe weather moved through the area. (AP/Susan Walsh)

Debris is strewn along West Street in Annapolis, Md., Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021, after severe weather moved through the area. (AP/Susan Walsh)

Debris is strewn along West Street in Annapolis, Md., Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021, after severe weather moved through the area. (AP/Susan Walsh)

Debris is strewn along West Street in Annapolis, Md., Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021, after severe weather moved through the area. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Debris is strewn along West Street in Annapolis, Md., Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021, after severe weather moved through the area. (AP/Susan Walsh)

Severe weather rattled the D.C. region, causing damages.

A tornado toppled utility poles and signs, as well as ripping off some roofing in Annapolis, Maryland.

A street in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, after a radar-confirmed tornado touched down on Sept. 1, 2021. (Courtesy Steve Adams / Anne Arundel Co. Economic Development Corp.)

The aftermath of a storm in Edgewater, Maryland, on Sept. 1, 2021. (Courtesy Amy Freedman)

Storm damage in Maryland on Sept. 1, 2021.

(Courtesy Amy Freedman)
A car is seen in Vienna, Virginia, on Sept. 1, 2021. (Courtesy Fairfax County Government)

Beach Drive at Connecticut Avenue flooded Wednesday. (Courtesy Montgomery County Park Police)

(Courtesy Montgomery County Park Police)
Road closure at Browns Mill Rd at Windstone Drive, in Fairfax County. Nearby Difficult Run floods often. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)

lightning
Lightning is seen over D.C. on Sept. 1, 2021. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)

Broad Branch Road
The force of flood water compromised a section of Broad Branch Road in Northwest on Sept. 1, 2021. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)

Broad Branch Road
A tree is down on Broad Branch Road in Northwest on Sept. 1, 2021. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)

lighting in crystal city
The skies lit up with lightning strikes early Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021. This is the scene in Crystal City. (WTOP/Colleen Kelleher)

view through car windshield of rain
The rain was so strong that at times early Sept. 1, 2021 you could not see the line markings on the road. (WTOP/Colleen Kelleher)

(1/46)
Debris is strewn along West Street in Annapolis, Md., Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021, after severe weather moved through the area. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Debris is strewn along West Street in Annapolis, Md., Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021, after severe weather moved through the area. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Debris is strewn along West Street in Annapolis, Md., Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021, after severe weather moved through the area. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
lightning
Broad Branch Road
Broad Branch Road
lighting in crystal city
view through car windshield of rain

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up