Then & Now: Thomas & Co. Cannery in Gaithersburg

“Then and Now” photos are an excellent way to explore the passage of time. In this special post, I have combined one of Lewis Reed’s original photograph’s for “then” and matched it with a corresponding contemporary shot for “now”. Taken approximately 100 years apart, these photos show the Thomas and Company Cannery in Gaithersburg, then and now.

Thomas & Company Cannery (THEN): The largest and longest-lived cannery in Montgomery County, the Thomas and Company Cannery operated from 1917 until 1962. While Baltimore had been the center of the canning industry in the 19th century, the outbreak of World War I created a need to rationalize. Frank and Clyde Thomas were leaders in the 20th century canning industry in Maryland. In 1917, the Thomas family opened a cannery in Gaithersburg, the first in Montgomery County. The factory was the focus of local industry and economy, providing an important market for farmers, and employment for local migrant workers.

The factory canned peas, pumpkin and corn, supplied both the local retail market and the war effort during WW I and II. During the war years, the cannery expanded operations and functioned on a three shift schedule to provide vegetables for shipment to troops. After the war, the cannery continued to produce vegetables under the brand names MY-T-NICE, EVER-GOOD, BARBARA FRITCHIE and ON-TOP corn, peas and succotash.

Built along the B & O Railroad to facilitate shipping, the brick cannery had three main parts: the central processing station, the shipping section and boiler plant. The cannery was designated a Gaithersburg landmark in 1987.

Thomas & Company Cannery 1917

Circa 1917 photo taken behind the Thomas and Company Cannery in Gaithersburg. The Cannery was the first and largest vegetable cannery in Montgomery County. It closed in 1963 after fire damage and lay empty until its recent restoration. Photo by Lewis Reed.

Gaithersburg Cannery

Thomas & Company Cannery (NOW):  The building saw various uses after the closing of the Cannery, but then lay empty until its recent restoration for office and commercial use.

Thomas Cannery Gaithersburg

Source: Maryland Historical Trust

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About Reed Brothers

I am a co-owner of the former Reed Brothers Dodge in Rockville, Maryland. Lewis Reed, the founder of Reed Brothers Dodge was my grandfather. We were a family-owned and operated car dealership in Rockville for almost a century. I served in the United States Air Force for 30 years before retiring in the top enlisted grade of Chief Master Sergeant in July 2006. In 2016, I received the Arthur M. Wagman Award for Historic Preservation Communication from Peerless Rockville for documenting the history of Reed Brothers Dodge in both blog and book format. This distinguished honor recognizes outstanding achievement by writers, educators, and historians whose work has heightened public awareness of Rockville’s architectural and cultural heritage, growth and development.

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