Nancy Pickard has always been interested in the architecture and style of old buildings, but even more in the stories those buildings could tell.
As the new executive director of Peerless Rockville, Pickard will get to indulge both interests, as she leads the organization dedicated to preserving Rockville’s culture and history.
Most preservation groups engage mostly in advocacy, but Peerless Rockville also does actual preservation work, she said.
“Here, you get to do a little bit of both, which is kind of unique,” she said.
The organization has a research library and a collection of artifacts and memorabilia from Rockville’s past. It also has a large digital library of photos from historic Rockville, Pickard said.
Pickard has been with Peerless Rockville since 2012, when she joined as program manager after interning with the group in 2011 while in graduate school at the University of Maryland.
As program manager, she handled events, educational programs and outreach.
In her new role, she is responsible for oversight of the whole organization and will work with the board of directors, she said.
Rockville has developed from a rural crossroads into a thriving business center, with tremendous growth, especially since the end of World War II, Pickard said.
The city’s designation as the seat of Montgomery County government and the growth of the various courthouses have helped keep Rockville’s population steady over the years, she said. From the time it was named Rockville in 1801, its population has grown from 200 to about 64,000, according to the latest Census Bureau data.
Nowadays, the large city still manages to retain some elements of a small town, especially with the number of people whose families have such long histories there, she said.
Protecting that history is part of Peerless Rockville’s mission.
To develop a sustainable future, you have to start with protecting the areas you already have, Pickard said.