Weston Notes

 

Weston as it appeared in 1886, when its name was Ruthven Lodge. (Photo courtesy of a descendant)

Weston as it appeared in 1886, when its name was Ruthven Lodge. (Photo courtesy of a descendant)

 

 

The house called Weston––later described as a long, low, plastered and whitewashed colonial mansion––stood at about the intersection of 36th Street and Massachusetts Avenue, precisely in the roadbed of Massachusetts Avenue, and the driveway started on Wisconsin Avenue, a little above Fulton Street.  (“Land Investors Well Rewarded For Confidence”, Washington Post, December 6, 1927, p.D1)

 

 

Thomas Plater of Montgomery County to sell 313 acres on the main road from Georgetown to Frederick (Centinel of Liberty, January 25, 1799). This sale appears to be the origin of five properties: Woodley, Weston, Mt. Alban, Rosedale, and Greenwood. Plater, who bought Greenwood, was the brother of John Rousby Plater (who bought Mount Alban). He was also the brother of Uriah Forrest’s wife, Rebecca  (who resided at Rosedale); and, he was the brother of Phillip Barton Key’s wife, Anne (who lived at Woodley).

In 1806, Thomas Plater sold all or part of the 313 acres to Walter Story Chandler of Georgetown, who subsequently built the house that would be called Weston. Causten family history relates that the clay for the bricks it was made of was taken from the southwest slope of the house site.

Walter S. Chandler to Richard Harrison, DC Liber Q16 (1806) f.399/307 (re Mt. Alban?)

1810, W.S. Chandler to P.B. Key, part of Weston (re Woodley?)

Thomas Plater to W.S. Chandler, DC Liber Y24 (1810) ff.227/209, 229/21?: 101 acres of part of Pretty Prospects, for $2970 (rectifies certain mistakes in the survey of land sold by John Rousby Plater and wife of St. Marys County to Walter Story Chandler of DC)

DC Liber Y24 (1810) f. 440/392, W.S. Chandler to Richard Harrison, part of Weston, 3 acres?, 120 dollars?

 

 

Thomas Lorain McKenney (1785-1859) first rented, then bought Weston, in 1817.

W.S. Chandler to Thomas Lorain McKenney  (DC Liber AP40 (1817) f. 164/126) $15,000 for Part of Pretty Prospects bordering Thomas Plater’s land that was sold him in 1806, abutting Frederick Town road, together with buildings and improvements.

Weston, for rent. I will rent, to a good tenant who will enter into stipulations to preserve the property, this healthful and beautiful situation. Possession to be had immediately. Thomas L. McKenney  (Intelligencer, February 25-March 6, 1826)

Valuable property for sale at Semmes Tavern, Georgetown: Weston, for 10 years past, except the last, my residence, about 100 acres, within reach of the watchman’s cry, and the sound of the Church-going bell. Thomas L. McKenney, by John Cox, trustee, Thomas Wright, auctioneer. (National Intelligencer, May 11, 1827)

For sale, residence on the heights of Georgetown, called Weston, about 100 acres. The dwelling is of brick, adjacent is a dairy, and meat house of stone, etc. The ground will be divided, if required. W. Mechlin, near Six Buildings. (National Intelligencer, July 14, 1828)

Thomas B. Balch remembers dairy carts from Weston in his youth.

 

1828, Bank of Columbia foreclosed, Weston sold at auction (Intelligencer, October 22, 1828)

 

1830, Buckner Thruston, diary, Historical Society of Washington, p.170: records putting fifty grape roots, and fifty peach trees in at Weston; first mention of him there.

It is possible he never resided, or was the landlord, or leased to Septimus Davis: unclear!

30 acres of Weston were sold by Thruston to Joseph Nourse.

 

For sale or rent, beautiful and healthy country seat, on the heights above Georgetown, called Weston. A long lease might be had of it. (National Intelligencer, September 28, 1831)

For sale, Weston, near Washington City, 70 acres. House is built of brick in the cottage style. Buckner Thruston (National Intelligencer, January 23, 1835)

 

1843, to James H. Causten from “Septimus Davis of Weston”, all that Chandler had sold to McKenney in 1817, except 30 acres sold by B. Thruston to J. Nourse. The Davis deed to Thruston was to satisfy a loan of $4,000. The mortgage and costs were paid by Davis, evidently with the aid of Causten, and Thruston and Davis gave a deed to Causten July 25, 1843, for the 30 acres that were part of Weston. Causten family history relates that in 1845 the house was extended with a frame wing containing two rooms.

Septimus Davis, of Kentucky, a surveyor? Related to Thruston?

 

That a dairy operated at Weston is indicated by  reference to “the sound of milk-carts, that come down from Weston”.  (Thomas B. Balch, Reminiscences of Georgetown, D.C., 1859Second Lecture, p.10)

 

James H. Causten, who considered Weston as his summer house, made his will in 1873 and died 1874; his will asked that Weston be sold, and an 1874 codicil allowed executors, Josephine Young  and Tom (Manuel) Causten) to decide when to sell, and could enjoy entire possession. Tom lived there that year.

 

Josephine Causten Young –– known as Posie –– died at Weston, September 21, 1877. Her funeral was at Trinity Church, Georgetown; apparently she was a convert to Catholicism.

The Causten Family Papers, Georgetown University Special Collections, were a gift from her.

 

Josephine Young (1843–1909) and Rebecca E. Young (1849-1920), are buried in Holy Rood Cemetery:

https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=21609272

 

1878, Property marked “Mrs. Young”

1884, marked “Young and others”

March 14, 1884, daughter and granddaughters of Joseph Causten, Josephine Young, Eliza Young, and Rebecca E. Young, deed Weston to William C. Hill of Washington for $25,000, 66 acres

 

Ruthven Lodge was apparently a second name, between 1884-1894.

 

1894 John Thompson, about 68 acres

 

(Baist’s Real Estate Atlas, 1903, Plate 18 [detail, with thanks to Ghosts of DC]).

Weston, in the roadbed of Massachusetts Avenue at 36th Street. The driveway to Weston was at Fulton and Wisconsin Avenue and Fulton Street NW.  (Baist’s Real Estate Atlas, 1903, Plate 18 [detail, with thanks to Ghosts of DC]).

 

“Road and railroad construction on Mass. Ave., Washington, D.C., looking west from the Naval Observatory Circle, March 24, 1911” (Bryan Collection, Library of Congress)

“Road and railroad construction on Mass. Ave., Washington, D.C., looking west from the Naval Observatory Circle, March 24, 1911”; in the foreground, the former Weston Farm, bisected by Massachusetts Avenue; along the horizon, what appears to be the Richard Goldsborough house called Tunlaw Towers.   (Bryan Collection, Library of Congress)

 

The watercolor “Old Georgetown Heights” shows Weston shortly before it was razed to make way for the extension of Massachusets Avenue. The painter was Charles Henry Davis, Jr. (1845-1921), who had been Superintendant of the neighboring Naval Observatory. (“Watercolor Views of Washington”, Evening Star, November 19, 1916, research by Jerry McCoy; Anthony Bruce, William Cogar, Encyclopedia of Naval History, p.101; Evening Star, December 27, 1921, p.2)

The watercolor “Old Georgetown Heights” shows Weston shortly before it was razed to make way for the extension of Massachusetts Avenue. The painter was Charles Henry Davis, Jr. (1845-1921), the retired Superintendent of the neighboring Naval Observatory. (“Watercolor Views of Washington”, Evening Star, November 19, 1916, research by Jerry McCoy; Anthony Bruce, William Cogar, Encyclopedia of Naval History, p.101; Evening Star, December 27, 1921, p.2)

 

 

Weston, as it appeared shortly before demolition. (Photo courtesy of a descendant)

Weston, as it appeared shortly before demolition. (Photo courtesy of a descendant)

 

The house, a ruin, was condemned for Massachusetts Avenue right-of-way circa 1895, and razed circa 1916.  (Records of the Columbia Historical Society, 9:209; “Land Investors Well Rewarded For Confidence”, Washington Post, December 6, 1927, p.D1)

A prominent tree later spoken of as the “signal oak”, was cut down at the same time as Weston/Ruthven Lodge was razed, to make room for Massachusetts Avenue  (Records of the Columbia Historical Society, 9:209)

A lengthy article on Weston: “Rambler Records Tale of Album Which Was A Real Benefactor” (Star, March 20, 1927, pt.5, p.3)

 

___________________________________________________________

Carlton Fletcher

 The citation and acknowledgement of my research is greatly appreciated.

All rights reserved.

 

 Questions and corrections may be directed to

carlton@gloverparkhistory.com

 

The support of the Advisory Neighborhood Council (3B) is gratefully acknowledged.