Owners of the storied Trout Run property are seeking a county historical designation so they can convert the Thurmont retreat into a substance abuse center affiliated with the Church of Scientology.

The 40-acre camp whose stream was once fished by President Herbert Hoover was sold in 2013 to a Los Angeles-based property holdings group. The property’s new owners are looking to renovate the rustic Catoctin Mountain lodges for the opening of a drug treatment center run by the Narconon program.

The controversial recovery program grew from rehabilitation methods developed by the Church of Scientology’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard. Narconon treatments include nutritional supplements, exercise and time spent in saunas. While there are no staff on-site yet, Narconon Eastern U.S. Executive Director Yvonne Rodgers said, they plan to open the “residential drug rehabilitation center” later this year.

But the project’s viability hinges on whether local officials agree to add Trout Run to the Frederick County Register of Historic Places. The request for this historic designation is set to come before the County Council for a public hearing on Tuesday.

Social Betterment Properties International, the current owner of Trout Run and real estate arm of the Church of Scientology, has already started working with the county on renovation plans, said Denis Superczynski, a county principal planner.


The group has submitted plans to convert the retreat into a rehabilitation center that has space for 12 live-in patients — referred to as “students” in the proposal. The center would feature five other beds for medical treatment and withdrawal and would accommodate eight staff living on-site and eight staff living off-site.

Patient programs would last for about six weeks, according to the plans.

The saunas used by Narconon are meant to purge the body of toxins that build up when someone abuses drugs, according to the organization’s website.

“When a person combines proper nutrition with moderate daily exercise and time spent sweating in a sauna, the body begins to flush out these residues, mostly through the sweat,” the site states. “As the residues are eliminated, thinking clears, attitude improves and most people say that their physical cravings are diminished or gone entirely.”

Rodgers said Narconon wants to address the recent growth in the abuse of heroin and other opiates in Frederick County.

“Our goal is to begin to help reduce these figures,” she wrote in an email. “So far we have received a warm reception from those we have spoken to about our plans, as apparently there is a need for more treatment facilities in the area.”


Mountain Manor Treatment Centers, in Emmitsburg, is the only inpatient facility for drug addiction in the county, said Jacque Burrier, co-founder of Project Hope in Thurmont. Burrier started the volunteer-run organization in 2013 to help drug addicts find a path to recovery. She said she’s heard about the plans for the Narconon location.

“I did look into it, just to see if it was something that we would recommend for our patients,” she said.

But based on what she’s seen in her research about their treatment methods, Burrier said she is not likely to refer Project Hope patients there.

The Narconon program has been the target of a variety of lawsuits, including several filed in Oklahoma after three patients’ deaths at a Narconon facility, according to The Oklahoman. Other legal complaints claim the program misrepresents its success rates and serves as a recruiting tool for the Church of Scientology.

Superczynski said Social Betterment Properties has been working for a few years to lay the groundwork for Trout Run’s transformation into a Narconon center.

Zoning restrictions that blanket Trout Run currently make it impossible to open the drug treatment facility at the Catoctin Hollow Road property. However, establishing a group home is permissible if the property is listed on the county’s historic register, Superczynski said.

The Frederick County Historic Preservation Commission has already given its approval for putting Trout Run on the list, Superczynski said. The Frederick County Board of Zoning Appeals has also given the all-clear for the treatment center plan provided that property owners secure the historic designation, he added.

County Council members could vote on adding Trout Run to the register after their public hearing on Tuesday, although they could opt to defer the decision if they need more information.


County staff has recommended granting the historic label to the Trout Run site, which was developed in the early 20th century, during a period when President Hoover was seeking a fishing retreat. Hoover’s aide, who bought the property in 1929, even stocked the stream with trout and built a cabin in preparation for the commander in chief’s visits, according to the county’s staff report.

Hoover ended up staying at Trout Run only a handful of times, and the president’s aide eventually sold the property. But D.C.’s rich and powerful, President Dwight D. Eisenhower among them, continued to find refuge at the rustic camp over the decades.

The site also served as a mock Camp David for the television series “The West Wing.”

Today, 14 buildings designed in the rustic style stand in the densely forested camp, crisscrossed by native stone and paved walkways, according to the county’s staff report.

Because property owners will be renovating old structures and not building new ones, the project will not have to come before the Frederick County Planning Commission, Superczynski said. If the historic designation is granted, certain changes would have to pass muster with the county’s preservation commission, he added.

In addition, the facility has not yet secured a state license to provide substance abuse treatment.

A spokesman for the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reported that Trout Run’s owners requested licensing information from the state agency about a year ago. However, DHMH hasn’t since heard from the group or received a completed license application, the spokesman indicated.

Follow Bethany Rodgers on Twitter: @BethRodgersFNP. Follow Sylvia Carignan on Twitter: @SylviaCarignan.

(14) comments


Tom Cruise will visit! [love] ........


Scientology is a cult not a religion. I would strongly question their motives for wanting to use Trout Run. I'd be willing to bet it's not for rehab.


show me a religion that isnt a cult?




What's happening to Frederick. " I Guess We Are Open For Business" AT WHAT COST !!! to our once wonderful county !!!! * Medical Marijuana Grower to produce 1500 lbs. of product per month !!!! * Scientology recovery substance abuse center at Trout Run that has a questionable business history !!!! Board of Appeals hearing on April 23rd. Case # B-15-10 Elm Tree Properties to turn the peaceful and quiet Sugarloaf Valley, Thurston Road residential neighborhood area into a commercial business hosting events of 400+ people at the old Warfield farm !!!! Hours of Operation: Wed.&Thurs. 10 a.m. - 9 p.m. , Fri, & Sat. 10 a.m.- 10 p.m. Sun. 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. God Help Us ALL !!!!! Show up and Speak Out at all of these hearings...


BlueDawn666 hits the nail in the head about what I think about this. Some churches have well gone beyond their worship/community oriented scope, and have evolved into something else. Hopefully they are still evolving :), because the history of Christian churches does not have a clean slate well. I agree with DCG326 about something can not hurt, what about free access to their facilities to oversee their operation?

Is FC going to have access to surprise inspections, or they have so much money that they can get away with obscure behaviors inside their "private" facilities? In that case, FC would be participating in legalizing means for bad news.

I am the first to say that I like to talk about alternatives to conventional medicine that works sometimes, and talk about alternative healing methods,with meditation and use of other natural techniques.


I have knew people who were involved in Scientology in the 70's and 80's and I thought they were brainwashed, so I don't think we need to have people trading one addiction for another! If you haven't seen,"Getting Clear" you should.


Hillarious, what a scam. 12 persons. no way. truly alterier motivation.


just as long as they don't get a tax exemption since it is a church who cares


They are tax exempt because they are designated a "church." Read here about the many deaths that have occurred at their rehab facilities like the one they are planning in Thurmont, as well as code violations, suicide attempts, alleged insurance fraud, and much more.


"Going Clear" (movie and book) is a distressing look at how this organization (Scientology and its offshoot, Narconon) has preyed on vulnerable people for one reason only...to take their money. They are only required to report a only fraction of their income, which is unrelated to daily functions. Their 2011 IRS filing shows a value of that fraction of their organization as more than $1.2 BILLION.


Hoover would approve.At least a do something cannot hurt.At least our taxes not used ,where many are jailed.Yes we pay.


Really, really bad idea. There is a new Scientology Documentary called Going Clear.
Profiles Eight former members of Scientology, excerpts from what they have revealed about what goes on in the cult are eye-popping.

2. Hubbard spent time in a black magic cult
Before founding Scientology, Hubbard befriended rocket and chemical engineer Jack Parsons who was a part of black magic cult Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO), which followed the teachings of Aleister Crowley. According to "Going Clear," Hubbard became Parsons scribe and assistant on a magical operation to impregnate a goddess-like woman to create the anti-Christ.

5. There was a Scientology "prison camp"
Former Church member Sylvia "Spanky" Taylor, who was once the liaison between the Church and John Travolta, was sent to the Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF), or what she described as the "prison camp where you'd go for re-indoctrination." According to the film, when sent to the RPF, people would have to do hard labor for "30 hours on, 3 hours off," eat table scraps and sleep on dirty, wet mattresses.

6. The FBI raid on the Church was the biggest in history at the time
On July 8, 1977, the FBI raided Scientology's Los Angeles, Hollywood and Washington, D.C. locations, which at the time was the bureau's biggest raid ever.

7. The Church stole government documents
According to the film, in the '70s, many Scientologists were directed to get jobs in Department of Justice and IRS offices in order to steal documents against or relating to the Church.

13. Paul Haggis left because of the the Church's homophobic stance
Oscar-winning filmmaker Paul Haggis ("Crash," "Casino Royale") left Scientology in 2009 after 30 years when his two gay daughters told him how they were being treated and harassed by the Church. According to Church doctrines, the religion views homosexuality as a disease. Haggis then wrote a now-famous letter of his resignation from the Church.


Google Going Clear Scientology, read for yourselves why this a really really bad idea..OMG..don't do this. Then again the zoning board did allow for allow for a 3rd Walmart to come in so doesn't surprise me they have basically already given the Church their blessing, I am amazed how people are so uniformed around here, it's like they on purpose live with their heads in the sand..

No way I would ever send someone to a treatment facility that was associated with a religion, let alone Scientology..OMG how stupid are we around here?

This is all bunk-"The controversial recovery program grew from rehabilitation methods developed by the Church of Scientology’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard. Narconon treatments include nutritional supplements, exercise and time spent in saunas. While there are no staff on-site yet, Narconon Eastern U.S. Executive Director Yvonne Rodgers said, they plan to open the “residential drug rehabilitation center” later this year."..just like anything else associated with this cult.


Not liking this


Bad idea.[scared]

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it clean. No vulgar, racist, sexist or sexually-oriented language.
Engage ideas. This forum is for the exchange of ideas, not personal attacks or ad hominem criticisms.
Be civil. Don't threaten. Don't lie. Don't bait. Don't degrade others.
No trolling. Stay on topic.
No spamming. This is not the place to sell miracle cures.
No deceptive names. Apparently misleading usernames are not allowed.
Say it once. No repetitive posts, please.
Help us. Use the 'Report' link for abusive posts.

Thank you for reading!

Already a member?

Login Now
Click Here!

Currently a News-Post subscriber?

Activate your membership at no additional charge.
Click Here!

Need more information?

Learn about the benefits of membership.
Click Here!

Ready to join?

Choose the membership plan that fits your needs.
Click Here!