While clearing debris after a Feb. 14 fire the nearly destroyed Hank Dietle’s tavern on Rockville Pike, volunteers who have donated time over the last two weeks to clean up the damage to the beloved 102-year-old bar found a 102-year-old copy of the Montgomery County Sentinel.
“When I saw that, I said ‘wow that’s something interesting,’” said John Bennaman, a regular at Dietle’s who has volunteer to help clean up the place after the fire.
The copy of the paper that Bennaman and others found is dated Feb. 18, 1916, the year the bar originally opened on Rockville Pike. Bennaman, a regular at Dietle’s with his father Dennis Bennaman, said he and several others found the paper while clearing debris in Dietle’s basement, which was mostly untouched from the fire that severely damaged the mostly wooden over century old general store opened by Edward Offutt in 1916. The tavern’s namesake Hank Dietle converted the general store into a bar sometime in the 1950s.
“That really ties into the history of how long Dietle’s has been in business and how the history of Dietle’s has evolved from 1916 to 2018,” Bennaman said. “It’s amazing what you can find in the basement.” The part of the issue Bennaman and others discovered was mostly intact, with some minor damage from mold and natural yellow aging of the paper.
The part of the issue the volunteers discovered was the classified section, which contained ads for Rockville’s Paul Y. Waters attorney-at-law and Starmont Sanatorium, near Washington Grove which had “open air” treatment for tuberculosis under the medical supervision of Gen. Geo. M. Sternberg.
In 1916, the Sentinel was still owned by the Fields family, which had owned the paper ever since 1856, when it was founded by Rockville native and Confederate sympathizer Andrew Fields.