“Glover Park: Quiet Pride And Character”
(Washington Post, January 17, 1987)
Outsiders may be fooled when merchants and restaurateurs tout locations near Wisconsin Avenue and Calvert Streets NW as “Upper Georgetown.” But residents of Glover Park find their porches, front yards and quiet residential streets distant indeed from the famous and flashy section to the south.
The people who live there describe Glover Park as a little town tucked into the city, guarded by parkland that once was, along with the neighborhood, part of the vast estate of banker Charles Glover.
“Glover Park sits on the top of the hill, and it is surrounded on the south and the west by woods. All our business is on Wisconsin Avenue. And so you have a very tight, a very quiet, a very detached little enclave,” said Sophia Henry, a real estate broker and a resident for 20 years.
The neighborhood is bounded by the Glover-Archbold and Whitehaven parks, Wisconsin Avenue and Tunlaw Street. Dozens of blocks separate it from Georgetown.
Some of Glover Park’s buildings are of stone and siding, but in general the area looks like a model town for the brick industry. Several blocks of almost-identical row houses were built in the 1920s and 1930s, as were other blocks of similar-looking four-unit apartment buildings.
But in the intervening years, owners have overthrown uniformity for innovation by building elaborate decks on tops of tiny garages, creating ornate gardens in small back yards and making sun rooms from storage space, giving the neighborhood abundant color and character.
Row houses now sell for between $160,000 and $210,000, according to Henry. “You have a marvelous floor plan, with an entry hall leading to every space in the house,” she said. Most houses are 16 to 18 feet wide, and many have basement apartments with separate entrances.
Reasonably priced condominiums attract first-time homeowners. Helen Dajer moved into a one-bedroom apartment at 4100 W St. NW because of its closeness to Georgetown University Hospital, where she works as a delivery room nurse. Now that her building is being converted to condominiums, Dajer is buying a top-floor, 1,000-square-foot two-bedroom apartment for $62,500. “It feels like a safe, cozy neighborhood,” Dajer said. “But parking is just awful.”
Parking generally poses no problem on the streets lined with houses, but can be troublesome near Wisconsin Avenue and the larger condominium and apartment buildings.
Rents in Glover Park generally run from $400 to $425 a month for efficiencies, $500 to $680 for one-bedroom units and $800 to $1,050 for two-bedroom units.
Space in a group house brought Penny Moser to Glover Park in 1974. At that time, she said, “It was more blue collar, and there were more old people. People sat on the stoop, or on lawn chairs in the afternoon with their beer or coffee. It didn’t seem like Washington.”
In the meantime, Moser has moved to a condominium on 40th Street and has seen the neighborhood take a turn upscale. But the sense of living outside the city lingers, due partly to wildlife that strays from the woods.
One opossum “had three babies under the dining room,” Moser said. She and her husband, Don, both avid bird watchers, have spotted 61 species in their back yard.
From 1981 to last year, Moser published a community newspaper-called the South China Morning Post “to enliven it,” she said-that had a circulation of 3,300 and ran a crime watch section.
“There just isn’t much crime in Glover Park. Most of the burglaries are through open doors and windows,” Moser said. When rashes of thefts have occurred, residents have organized into patrols. Once, Moser said, they apprehended a pair of auto-battery thieves; another time they stopped and interrogated two men who turned out to be undercover police.
Other community efforts are purely for fun. Freeman Moser III, who moved to Glover Park four months ago, quickly saw 38th Street converted from road to recreation. “We closed it down for a volleyball game; we just put trash cans on either end,” he said. “Block parties are sort of common here. Everybody brings eating utensils and a dish or two.”
He described a demographic hodgepodge among the area’s 8,300 residents. “There’s just such a mix,” he said. “There are the 80-year-old women who have lived there since who knows when, and the rowdy rental college students who are splitting the rents five ways.”
The area’s prekindergarten through fourth grade students attend Stoddert School, whose principal, Patricia Patton, described it as a school with concerned teachers and parents. The PTA funds special teachers for computer and science instruction at the school, and runs a popular festival each May on the school grounds at 39th and Calvert streets NW. In 1985, a quilt made by fourth graders sold for $1,700 at the fair.
Not far from the school, on one of the highest spots in the city, sits the $70 million, 10-acre Soviet Embassy compound, which includes a nine-story, 165-unit apartment building, a school and a 400-seat auditorium. The office building remains unused while the U.S. government awaits completion of its new embassy offices in Moscow. Still, neighbors complain that the Soviets and their gadgetry have ruined television reception.
Dominating the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and Hall Place NW is a huge ditch for a would-be residential development that was left unfilled when the primary financier, First Maryland Savings and Loan, fell into receivership during the Maryland savings and loan crisis. Sal Manfrey of Jolly Co., the project’s general contractor, said that a prospective owner is negotiating with Maryland state officials to buy the property to complete the development.
The plans for a 198-unit residential building on the east side of Wisconsin Avenue, near the U.S. Naval Observatory, will be reviewed by the D.C. Zoning Commission on March 26. Chris Collins, an attorney representing the developer, said his clients and observatory officials have been meeting to discuss possible “light pollution” of the night sky from the proposed building.
A cherished softball diamond is also at stake, according to Glover Park Citizens Association President Joe Corey. When the building is finished, Corey said, “It’s not going to be too long before the neighbors petition the city to close or restrict Guy Mason,” a popular ball field next to the building site.
Across Wisconsin Avenue from the field, commerce ranges from gourmet ice cream to a coin-op laundry in Glover Park’s little business strip. Samuel (Doc) Eisenberg, owner of Pearson’s Plain Old Liquor Store, has been bantering with neighbors for most of his 81 years. The store bears the name of Pearson’s Pharmacy up the block, where Eisenberg formerly worked as a pharmacist. The pharmacy still serves hearty meals at an L-shaped counter, with specials spelled out on blackboards.
Eisenberg, a native of Poland, calls the neighborhood “one of the finest sections in the metropolitan area. We are proud to be a part of Glover Park, because Glover Park has accepted us with open arms.”
(Anne Simpson, “Glover Park: Quiet Pride And Character”, Washington Post, January 17, 1987, p.E1)