The Camp David Museum
Cozy Restaurant & Inn
Closed & Demolished
105 Frederick Road
I originally took these photos in 2011 when Cozy was still alive and kicking. About 30 minutes prior to my arrival – the roll-bag on my motorcycle flew open while riding down the Interstate.
Highway vs Camera rarely results in the camera’s survival. I had to resort to using my cellphone, which was about 7 years old at the time and had only slightly better photographic capabilities than your average Yukon Gold Potato.
My original intention was to come back and take better images after I replaced my camera. Unfortunately, I missed the opportunity. Cozy was closed in 2014. The restaurant, cabins, and motel have since been razed and the former site is now a lot for the local car dealership.
The genesis of the Cozy began around 1929 (published dates differ) when Wilbur R. Freeze built a tourist camp with three cottages, a few tents, a shower building, and a gas station near Catoctin Mountain. As the years went by, a lunch counter and a restaurant/bar, The Camp Cozy Club, were added. In its last decades, more cabins and an inn were added and the Cozy Restaurant was more of a family buffet. The history of Cozy is interesting and I’ll include some links at the end if you’d like to know more.
The Cozy is just 6 miles from Camp David ( the official Presidential Retreat). It was once named Shangri-la until President Eisenhower changed the name to Camp David because he purportedly thought that the former name was “just a little fancy for a Kansas farm boy”.
Because of its close proximity to Camp David, the Cozy was frequently an unofficial home-away-from-home for members of the Washington press corps, presidential staff, foreign delegations, and members of the military. Jerry Freeze opened the Camp David Museum in the lobby area of his restaurant in 2005 to honor the ties between his business and famous country retreat for the POTUS. I say this with affection … it was like the world’s most ambitious junior high school project. It wasn’t professionally curated and was kitsch to the limit; but it was entertaining to visit. I truly wish that I had returned to take better pictures before its demise; but since I don’t have ready access to a time machine these will have to do.
In no particular order (and, trust me, there wasn’t a particular order)
A hostess at Cozy mentioned when I was there that there was an infamous visit to The Cozy Club by none other that Winston Churchill. The story is oft-repeated in modern newspaper pieces about the restaurant. Purportedly, President Roosevelt waited in his car with several aides while Churchill entered the club because he wanted to play their jukebox. Every time that I’ve read this, I viewed it with some skepticism because it is always nearly word-for-word the same story and it seemed a little odd to me. As it turns out, the story is also mentioned on the International Churchill Society page with even more information than I’ve seen anywhere else. So, it is likely legitimate and apparently it happened more than once!
The rooms at the Inn and the five cottages on the property were named after news outlets and presidents alike. I wish that I had better pictures of them. They were awfully cute.
Cottage 109 was the Reagan Room. It was the only cottage that had a Jacuzzi.
One of the cottages with a news-outlet namesake: The CNN Cottage
The Clinton Room was upstairs and had a prominent No-Smoking sign. I wondered at the time if that was a bit nod to the famous cigar.
Another panel and some pieces of ephemera from inside the museum. Again, I regret that I never returned to take more and better pictures.
The former Cozy footprint is now a parking lot. Cue Joni Mitchell singing Big Yellow Taxi
If you’d like to read more Cozy and Camp David history, be sure to check out the links below.