Washington D.C. Mormon Temple in Maryland. Photo from WikiCommons.

Only in Maryland: Surrender Dorothy Graffiti

10/15/2017
By Waxter Intern

If you lived in the Maryland area in the 1970s you may remember the infamous Surrender Dorothy graffiti on the CSX railroad bridge over I-495. The prank (and later tags) referenced the architecture of the nearby Mormon Temple – that with six golden spires may think resemble the Emerald City of Oz.

WHO WERE THE PRANKSTERS?

The Washington Post’s Answer Man, John Kelly, solicited leads to identify the pranksters in a blog back in 2011. While the graffiti artist or artists did not come forward, the crowdsourcing did discover that an unlikely group started the whole thing:

In 1974, the year the Temple was dedicated, a group of students from Holy Child in Potomac, Maryland visited the striking new building. They may have been influenced to connect the architectural design of the Temple with the Wizard of Oz because that was the musical that was to be performed by the school that year!

Inspired, they devised a plan to write Surrender Dorothy across the bridge in front of the Temple, but not wanting to permanently damage property, they wrote it with newspaper stuffed into the chain-link fence. Their message lasted about 24 hours, but inspired a number of copycats throughout the late 1970s.

The prank lives on in the collective memory of Marylanders and the bridge has seen a number of new messages in recent years…

Put 2020 on the calendar

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently announced that the Washington D.C. Temple will be closed from March 2018 through 2020 for renovations. At the time of completion, a public open house will be planned – the first since 1974!

Cheers to “Only in MarylanD”

In 2015, 7 Lock Brewing opened in Montgomery County and soon after their Surrender Dorothy RyePA became their flagship brew. The beer can design includes a representation of the Emerald City…or is it the Temple?

This post was written by Maggie Pelta-Pauls, a Waxter Intern with Preservation Maryland. A graduate of The College of William and Mary, Maggie is primed to research and write about Maryland history – especially culinary history. Learn more about Maggie and our The Waxter Memorial Internship program here: presmd.org/waxter.

Waxter Intern

A legacy gift from William D. Waxter, III established the Waxter Memorial Internship to help Preservation Maryland support the next generation in historic preservation.

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