Some of the two-syllable street names in use today originated in an 1872 report of the Board of Public Works, which proposed a list of notable Americans to replace all the lettered streets in L’Enfant’s grid. That plan was shelved, but some of the proposed names survived for later use.
The 1872 list began with Adams, but since the deliberations of the Board went unrecorded, no one knows which Adams was intended for the honor, and the same uncertainty applies to some of the other street names of Glover Park.
Why the system starts with Benton in Glover Park, and skips Adams, is unknown. the most likely candidate is Thomas Hart Benton (1782–1858). History records that during the course of a street brawl in 1813, Benton shot Andrew Jackson, who recovered, and went on to be elected President, with Senator Benton his political ally. But it was probably Benton’s support of westward expansion, and opposition to the westward expansion of slavery, that endeared him to the party in power in the capital after the Civil War.
Probably Henry Ward Beecher, who was once the best-known clergyman in the nation, whose church in Brooklyn was the “Grand Central Station of the Underground Railroad”, and whose wealthy congregation made a practice of buying slaves their freedom. In 1848 two District of Columbia slaves, Mary and Emily Edmonson, were condemned to be sold south after attempting to escape on the schooner Pearl: Beecher’s church raised the money to free them, and sent them to Oberlin College instead. The Beecher monument in Brooklyn honors the “Great Apostle of the Brotherhood of Man”, and shows children, black and white, laying a wreath at Beecher’s feet.
There is no reason to doubt that Calvert Street commemorates the founding family of Maryland, “Absolute Lords and Proprietaries of the Provinces of Maryland and Avalon, Lords Baron of Baltimore, & cetera”. But it is impossible to say which particular Calvert was being honored: Cecil Calvert, the first Lord Proprietor of Maryland––who never set foot in Maryland)––or Leonard Calvert, the first Governor––who did.
No satisfactory candidate has been found. For some, the president of the Confederate States of America might spring to mind, but the political climate that prevailed for more than half a century after the Civil War makes this highly unlikely.
Best bet: Senator George Franklin Edmunds (1828-1919). A Radical Republican, Edmunds voted for the impeachment of Andrew Johnson, was the author of the Edmunds Act suppressing Mormon polygamy, and was one of the authors of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. In the disputed presidential election of 1877, Edmunds proposed the compromise that averted bloodshed.
It seems safe to assume that the street at the northern border of Glover Park honors Robert Fulton, inventor, engineer, and artist.
A two-story frame house on west side of what is now Wisconsin Avenue, near W Place belonged to Henry Weaver. Weaver was a key figure in the founding of the Mount Pleasant Chapel at 35th and Wisconsin, whose first pastor was Phillip T. Hall. Hall married Weaver’s daughter. In 1903 the property became Phillip and Mary Ann Hall’s Subdivision, and Phillip T. Hall built his house on it. (“Philip T. Hall Dies”, Star, February 14, 1925. See The Hall Tract.)
In 1769 Georgetown was enlarged by the sale of two hundred acres out of George Gordon’s Knave’s Disappointment, laid out in three hundred lots, and known as Beatty and Hawkins’ Addition to Georgetown. Until 1871 the boundary of the northern extension of the city of Georgetown was at the edge of the alley west of Huidekoper Place.
Frederic Wolters Huidekoper was a railroad baron from Pennsylvania who owned more than a million acres in Florida, and less than one hundred in the District of Columbia. Between 1886 and 1908 he laid the groundwork for the later development of Burleith, and of southern Glover Park.
Huidekoper Place, south of W Street, is a remnant of his subdivision called Northwest Highlands, most of which was later condemned for the extension of Whitehaven Parkway, and is now Whitehaven Park.
This short street appears in 1917-1918 assessments as Minor Street, but it was not opened until 1930. The manor to which the name refers is unknown; the house at the top of Manor Place––which fronts on W Street––is an unlikely candidate, as it was built after the street was named. (“L.M.B. Inscoe, two-story brick dwelling at 3730 W Street northwest, cost $13,000”, “Building Permits”, Washington Post, May 17, 1931, p.R1)
The name is not unique to Glover Park: an older Manor Place, near Howard University and Soldiers Home, has been there, according to the District of Columbia Engineer Files, since 1906. There is no satisfactory explanation for the duplication, as Glover Park’s Manor Place is not an extension or continuation of the other Manor Place.
The name Observatory Place was first given to what is now the east-west leg of Hall Place; when the name Hall Place was extended to include the the east-west leg––which appears to have happened between 1912 and 1916––the name was transferred.
Its new location was in the heart of Observatory Heights, a long-forgotten subdivision by the International Realty and Development Company.
This rationale is suggested by a 1912 transaction, west of Tunlaw Road: “Realty transfers: Observatory Place, Northwest; International Realty and Development Company, to Harry B. and Laura V. Matchett, lot 407, square 1301.” (Washington Times, October 26, 1912 p.7)
In the days of coach and horse, the road from Wisconsin Avenue to western gate of the Naval Observatory––the alley between Sushi-ko and Glover Park Hardware––saw better days as the driveway to the Barber family’s North View, that preceded the Observatory. Cornelius Barber secured a right of way through Weaver property circa 1852. It was possibly also an access to the Barnard family’s Normanstone, because, in August, 1868, when Joseph and Robert Weaver deeded land to Michael Weaver, the future Observatory Lane is shown as “Barnard’s Road”. (Carbery’s Book of Surveys, p.18; County Surveys Levy Court I, DC Surveyor’s Office)
New Mexico Avenue was formerly part of Tunlaw Road, and Wesley Heights was formerly Tunlaw Farm. Who named the farm? “A delightful spot on the Heights, the property of one of our well-known merchants, has been rendered famous by the versatile genius…who christened it Tunlaw.” The versatile genius was Thomas L. Hume. “Tunlaw Farm is the country home of Mr. Pickerell, of Georgetown, and Mr. Thomas L. Hume, of Washington.” (Georgetown Courier, August 8, 1868; Washington Star, July 5, 1873)
(See The Origins of Tunlaw Road.)
The short segment in Glover Park has residential parking, but no residents. It was apparently considered by its planners to be a continuation of the old Madison Street, which was U Street before it became Whitehaven Parkway.
L’Enfant’s design for Washington City––east of Rock Creek, and south of Florida Avenue––envisioned a grid of numbered and lettered streets, running in the cardinal directions, overlaid by diagonal avenues honoring the states of the Union.
When it was extended west of Rock Creek the system required adaptation to pre-existing streets and smaller blocks. The reason there is no V Street in Glover Park is that it didn’t fit.
Pierre L’Enfant’s alphabet ends with W Street because that is where it reached the northern boundary of the city he envisioned, which ended at what is now Florida Avenue.
(See The Hall Tract.)
The part of Whitehaven Parkway between Wisconsin Avenue and the former intersection with Tunlaw Road was called Madison Street (see Old Streets of Upper Georgetown). In 1925 the houses on the north side were condemned, the street was extended to 37th Street, and lost its connection to Tunlaw Road. As its name makes clear, the intention was for the parkway to connect Whitehaven, in what is now Palisades, with Massachusetts Avenue at Rock Creek.
Shelved during the Depression, the project was dusted off in 1950. Its most immediate local effect was to persuade the Weaver family––whose houses had been at 2019, 2029, and 2101 Wisconsin Avenue since 1880, and who had been living on that land since 1820––to move away. This was also why Saint Luke’s Church moved, from its original location at 35th and Wisconsin, to its present home on Calvert Street. (Washington Present And Future: A General Summary Of The Comprehensive Plan For The National Capital And Its Environs, April, 1950)
In the end, the parkway never came. A 1970 injunction––upheld in 1972––killed the Three Sisters Bridge across the Potomac, whose northern approach would in all likelihood have been Glover-Archbold Park and Whitehaven Parkway. Transportation Secretary Volpe conceded that the time for such projects had passed, and the rights-of-way of Whitehaven Parkway were transferred to the Park Service.
The proposed highway and bridge system. (Washington Post, April 30, 1959, research by Ghosts of DC)
Students protest plans to build a freeway through Glover-Archbold Park. (The American University Talon, 1971)
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