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Al Marah - Originally an Arabian Horse Farm - Now a Bethesda Community

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Capital Properties DC AB15253

Did you know that today is National Arabian Horse Day?  In honor of these beautiful animals, I wanted to highlight Al Marah, a neighborhood in Bethesda MD which was an Arabian Horse farm from the 1950s to the 1970s.    Before there were homes there, Al Marah was a large horse farm raising beautiful and elegant Arabians - hence the Arabic name which means Oasis.  Now the community is a mixture of traditionally styled homes on quarter acre and larger lots.  Many of them were built by Mitchell and Best, a local builder of quality homes. 

The Al Marah farm was started by Ruth "Bazy" Tankersley, a niece of Robert McCormick, publisher of the Chicago Tribune.  She had moved to Washington DC at the request of her uncle in 1949 to run Washington's Times- Herald.  She left the Times-Herald in 1951 and devoted herself to raising Arabians on her Bethesda estate on River Road.  This seemed to come naturally since she had been raising Arabian horses since she was a teenager, having grown up on a dairy and breeding farm near Byron Illinois.  She even studied genetics at Bennington College, which seemed like the perfect college major, given her interests. 

Tankersley purchased her first purebred Arabian when she was 19, and began her horse breeding operation, Al-Marah Arabians, in Tucson, Arizona, in 1941-42. As she moved across the US for her newspaper career, her horses and farm name went with her. She purchased her foundation sire Indraff in 1947, while living in Illinois. Upon her move to Washington, DC, her Al-Marah operation relocated to Montgomery County, Maryland, where it became the largest Arabian farm in the United States by 1957.   Tankersley returned to Tucson in the 1970s about the time the farm was sold to developers.  In Tucson, in addition to horse breeding, she created an apprenticeship program at Al-Marah to train young people for jobs in the horse industry. She set up a second horse operation, the Hat Ranch, near Flagstaff, Arizona. Over her career she bred over 2,800 registered Arabians and was one of the largest importers of horses from the Crabbet Arabian Stud in England.

Not only is the community Al Marah named for the Arabian horse farm that was there for many years, but one of the main streets, Indraff Court, is named for her horse, Indraff.  I think that was a thoughtful name for one of the streets in the community.  If you would like to see if any homes are currently for sale in Al Marah, just click here. 

There are many wonderful communities in the Washington DC area, each with its own history.  If you would like to know more about a particular community in the metro area, please give the Lise Howe Group a call at 240-401-5577.  As native Washingtonians, or near natives, we love sharing our knowledge and enthusiasm with you!  As you start your search for a new home, it is great to understand that the history that has gone into making that community what it is today.  Just give us a call with any questions or email us at lise@lisehowe.com! 

Comments (9)

Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good morning Lise,

You have so many wonderful communities in the Washington DC area, each with its own history. Thank you for telling us about Al Marah, a lovely community in Bethesda, MA. Arabian horses are such magnificent animals. 

Feb 19, 2024 06:27 AM
Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

Hello Lise and thank you for this interesting story about this great horse farm, wow 2800 horse she breed that is something.  Make it a great President Day!


Feb 19, 2024 07:46 AM
Hannah Williams
HomeStarr Realty - Philadelphia, PA
Expertise NE Philadelphia & Bucks 215-820-3376

I have always loved horses . Lise Howe  my mother said I always dreamed of owning one I do not quite remember that I do remember having a collection of miniature horses I do go through phases  

Feb 19, 2024 08:57 AM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Hi LIse0 I love the background story on El Marah!!!  When I think of horses in your area, I think of Middleburg, VA. We almost bought a home there and while looking in the area, we heard many interesting stories. 

Feb 19, 2024 07:14 PM
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

I had no idea what an awesome historical background so glad you shared and loved the photo too:)Endre

Feb 19, 2024 11:49 PM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Pasadena And Southern California 818.516.4393

Hello Lise - thank you for the information.   This post helps fill in some of the blank spaces in my brain with unknown-to-me Washington DC area background.  History plays such an important part of the area.  Every corner you turn seems to have some relevance to life today. 

Feb 20, 2024 01:53 AM
Brian England
Ambrose Realty Management LLC - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

I did not know it was Arabian Horse day, but I see there has been a lot of influence from Arizona.  I know that there is a big show in my area every year but I have never attended.

Feb 20, 2024 05:24 AM
Ben DeHaven
Haven Realty & Investments - Lakeland, FL
Proudly serving Winter Haven & Lakeland, Florida

My wife and I have two Arabians so every day is Arabian day for us! 

Feb 21, 2024 11:45 AM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

Thank you very much for this interesting post.

I hope you are having a productive month.

Feb 28, 2024 09:03 AM