The Wymer Collection of the Historical Society of Washington consists of approximately 4,000 photographs of Washington taken by John P. Wymer (1904-1995). From 1948 to 1952, Wymer traveled all over the city, systematically taking pictures of every neighborhood. On the morning of June 25, 1950, as Wymer walked through through Glover Park, the Korean War was beginning on the other side of the planet.
Wisconsin Avenue, June 25, 1950
This view of Wisconsin Avenue north of Hall Place was taken on a quiet Sunday morning. Businesses are closed. There are no streetcars passing, and very few parked cars. In the distance the Carillon House apartment building can be seen, nearing completion.
The Calvert Theater
By 1930, when their property was acquired by the Globe Amusement Company, the Kengla family had lived on the west side of what is now Wisconsin Avenue for more than a century.
The Calvert Theater (2324-6 Wisconsin Avenue) opened in 1937 and closed in 1967. As John P. Wymer passed this way on a quiet Sunday morning in the summer of 1950, Alfred Hitchcock’s “Stagefright” was the feature.
Holy Rood Cemetery
Purchased on behalf of Holy Trinity Church in 1832 by the Jesuits of Georgetown College, the Trinity Church Upper Grave Yard was re-named Holy Rood in 1866. The cemetery at Wisconsin Avenue and 35th Street, NW is now the last resting place of more than seven thousand Georgetown Catholics, black and white, free and slave, immigrant and native-born. A Minuteman of the Revolutionary War is buried there, as are veterans of the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Civil War, and both World Wars.
When John Wymer took this picture, the cemetery had apparently not yet suffered too much at the hands of vandals, and the old cobblestones over which the horse-drawn hearses once used to pass were not yet hidden under asphalt.
2106 Wisconsin Avenue, one of the four houses that made up Weaver Row or Weaver Hill.
Around the year 1815 a master butcher from Frederick County named Michael Weaver settled with his young wife on the northern end of Georgetown, in what is now Glover Park. Like the Kengla and Homiller families that were settling nearby, the Weavers were most likely of German extraction, by way of Pennsylvania. In the beginning the couple lived in a small two-story frame tenement at the corner of Wilberforce Street and Congo Lane –– streets east of Wisconsin Avenue that have long since disappeared from the map. Michael Weaver prospered, and his sons Henry and Joseph accumulated property on both sides of Wisconsin Avenue.
The era of cattle pens and slaughterhouses that had characterized the neighborhood since its founding days ended around 1880, when the grandchildren of Michael Weaver built their handsome row of houses –– 2019, 2029, 2101, and 2133 –– along the west side of Wisconsin Avenue. These were the homes of a fourth and a fifth generation of Weavers on Weaver Hill.
By 1950, when John Wymer took a picture of part of Weaver Row, commercial zoning of Wisconsin Avenue had changed its character again, traffic had increased, and the long-awaited eastward extension of Whitehaven Parkway seemed imminent. By about 1970 Weaver Row was gone, and, after 150 years in the neighborhood, the descendants of Michael Weaver had moved away.
Carillon House, at 2500 Wisconsin Avenue, was designed by Washington builder Waverly Taylor. When it opened, in 1951, it was the first hotel apartment building in Washington with central air conditioning.
For more than half a century Glover Park has been treated, every day at noon, to a selection of music from the electronic carillon on the roof of the Carillon House. The selection is wide; one day it’s Brahms’s Hungarian Dance that drifts out over the neighborhood, and the next day it’s Beautiful Dreamer, or O Sole Mio, or Silver Threads Amid the Gold.
(When John P. Wymer took this picture, on June 25, 1950, Carillon House was still under construction. Partially visible on the left in Wymer’s photograph is the Lord Baltimore –– later Amoco, and now Washingtonian –– filling station, built in 1926.)
The Nurses’ Home
“The mile walk along the narrow dirt road to American University was beautiful, with lovely trees, and many birds. At the bend in Tunlaw Road was the Nurses’ Home for Mount Alto Hospital.” –– Grace Powell Cochran.
“Directly across the street from the home was a very large home that had a huge round pond in the rear. It was about three feet deep and fifty feet or more in diameter. It was the home to bull frogs and large snails. In back, where apartment houses exist today, was a small creek that was filled with tadpoles. Children would spend hours there trying to capture these amphibians and watch them in captivity in bathtubs at home.” –– Francis McKinley.
The Nurses’ Home, recalled in various reminiscences of Glover Park, closed in 1965, along with the veterans hospital that it served. Construction of what is now the Russian Embassy compound took place between 1977 and 1985. The pond –– Grace Cochran called it a “sunken garden” –– was on the property of Mrs. Benedicta Regenstein, at 3850 Tunlaw Road.
The Tunlaw Road Houses
In 1940, as it was becoming increasingly clear that the United States would soon be drawn into the Second World War, Congress authorized the construction of public housing for the families of men engaged in national defense activities.
The National Capital Housing Authority’s “Tunlaw Road Houses”, in Glover Park, were built in 1943, and consisted of about ninety rental units, of temporary frame construction, located on five-acres of land––leased from Charles Glover, Jr.––between 39th and 42nd Streets, north of Edmunds Street.
The photograph, taken by John P. Wymer on June 25, 1950, gives the view looking east from 42nd Street toward 39th, and shows the curved street named Tunlaw Terrace that divided the project.
The Tunlaw Road Houses were razed in 1954 to make way for construction of 4000 Tunlaw in 1960. (Washington Post, February 7, 1943, p.R5; December 1, 1951, p.B1; September 24, 1954, p.25)
Row houses in the 3800 block of W Street.
Rear of row houses in the 3800 block of W Street.
41st and Beecher Streets, N.W., looking south.
40th Place, N.W.
Another photo taken during the course of John P. Wymer’s walk through Glover Park, on June 25, 1950, shows the west side of the 2200 block of 40th Place NW, looking south from Benton Street. The view is not substantially different today, except that now it is framed by black locust trees that have volunteered on the earth bank behind the apartments.
When these apartments were new, and air conditioning still a rarity, window awnings were standard. There were no residential parking restrictions, and it would be another four decades before curbs were laid.
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