Washington Post, October 17, 1926, p.R8
Late in 1926, Washington was introduced to a new neighborhood –– Glover Park –– where personal inspection of B.H.Gruver’s newly-built houses on Tunlaw Road would reveal “numerous refinements”. These houses––like the majority of the rowhouses built in Glover Park between 1910 and 1940––were “Daylight” houses, i.e. two rooms deep. The substantial front porch––“architecturally blending with the house proper”––was for outdoor living (and was over public land). In back, there were kitchen porches on the first floor, and on the second, sleeping porches. (Although these were no doubt most welcome on summer nights, they were intended for year-round use, to promote respiratory health.)
The cork tile kitchen floor was advertised as being easy on the feet, and it would muffle any kitchen clatter. The refrigerator had an outside door for delivery of ice, so that the iceman wouldn’t track up the floors. One bathroom was considered sufficient for an average family; the toilet in the basement was for the use of domestic help.
Automobiles had become sufficiently common to require garages and paved alleys, but the convenience of Wisconsin Avenue “car“ –– i.e. streetcar –– and bus lines was still a selling point.
In 1926, Myron R. Walker, the first resident of the newly-christened neighborhood, moved in to the first Gruver house completed, at 2424 Tunlaw Road. (“Our Town”, Washington Post, October 31, 1939, p.17. See also Margaret Hunt: Childhood in Glover Park, 1926-1939)
The next exhibit homes––”open, heated and lighted”–– were at 2526 and 2528 Tunlaw Road. The last unsold “Gruver Home” at 2040 37th Street––”just north of Burleith”––was also advertised at this time. (Sunday Star, February 27, 1927)
Washington Post, October 9, 1927, p.R9
In the beginning, B.H. Gruver appears to have had the most interest in promoting the name Glover Park. Other builders with stakes in the area went without a neighborhood name for the moment, or else extended the name of an adjacent neighborhood to include their newest offering.
The firm of Cooley Brothers, for example, had already sold 3718-3722 Benton Street the summer before the Glover Park was christened. These houses became part of Glover Park much in the same way that pre-1926 houses on Wisconsin Avenue, Tunlaw Road, Hall Place, W Place and 37th Street did, i.e. after the fact. (Washington Post, May 26, 1926, p.R6; June 27, 1926, p.R4)
Even after 1926 there were houses, built on land that Frederic Huidekoper had bought from Henry Kengla, that were not yet considered part of Glover Park (and were occasionally advertised as being in Burleith).
“Robert E. Kline, to build twelve 2-story brick and tile dwellings at 2212-20 and 2300-12 Tunlaw road northwest; estimated cost, $50,000.” Listings of Kline’s houses––some of which were built by J.S. Gruver––made no mention of “Glover Park”. One of these houses, 2214 Tunlaw Road, was advertised in early 1929 as being in Burleith. (Washington Post, April 24, 1927, p.R7; April 15, 1928, p.R4; September 9, 1928, p.R7; April 7, 1929, p.R6)
2206 Tunlaw was listed by Robert E. Kline at the end of 1928; in early 1929, it too was described as being in Burleith. (Washington Post, December 16, 1928, p.R3; January 20, 1929, p.R3; February 17, p.R4; March 31, 1929, p.R5)
As early as 1915, builder Michael B. Inscoe had bought land in what was then called Observatory Heights. In 1931 Inscoe obtained permits to build the house that, until about 1989, stood alone on the lot framed by W Street, Observatory Place, Manor Place, and Huidekoper Place: “L.M.B. Inscoe, two-story brick dwelling at 3730 W Street northwest, cost $13,000.” (“Real Estate Transfers”, Washington Post, September 9, 1915, p.12; “Building Permits”, Washington Post, May 17, 1931, p.R1)
Washington Post, November 11, 1928, p.R2
Glover Park’s First Year
In 1927 B.H Gruver announced that the following properties had been sold during the previous year: 2524-2566 Tunlaw Road, 3811-3823 Beecher Street, and 2413-2419 Observatory Place. (“Sales In Glover Park Pass $250,000 Mark––Many of Houses Command View of Potomac River About Mile Away.––Streets Being Paved”, Washington Post, October 16, 1927, p.R3)
D.C. Gruver to erect eight two-story brick dwellings, 3834-44 Beecher street northwest; estimated cost, $40,000. (Washington Post, July 29, 1928, p.R1)
(Washington Post, October 14, 1928)
(Washington Post, June 30, 1929)
Nine Glover Park Houses Sold: Property Sold in Model English Community Now Totals $1,500,000.––Location Is Healthful. “The spacious grounds of Mount Alto, the U.S. Veterans hospital, form the northern boundary [of the neighborhood], a particularly desirable feature, inasmuch as this site was chosen because of its high and healthful location. To the west lies the vast rugged beauty of the United States Government Glover Parkway (whence Glover park gets its name), an enormous tract of park-like character donated to the United States Government by Mr. Charles C. Glover. This park lends a distinct suburban atmosphere and affords unlimited safe and healthful play space for children as well as a recreational haven for grown-ups. A portion of the District’s pretentious boulevard system will, in the near future, extend through Glover Parkway.” (Sale of 3754-60, 3761, 3800, and 3801-03 Benton Street, Washington Post, January 12, 1930, p. R1)
In addition to extolling its high and healthful location, advertisements also reassured prospective buyers that they would be “surrounded by other homes of similar type and people of his own kind…in a well-restricted residential colony”, i.e. that neighborhood was racially segregated. “Glover Park Exact About Its Dwellers: Well-Defined Restrictions Put on Residential Colony of Area.––Atmosphere Homelike.––Predetermined and well-defined restrictions are necessary to the life and success of every residential colony and in Glover Park these restrictive standards are steadfastly maintained. Every home owner has the assurance that the newcomers will make desirable neighbors; that his home will be free from undesirable encroachments of any nature and the value of his property will have lasting protection.” (Washington Post, June 30, 1929; January 19, 1930, p. 34)
Benjamin H. Gruver
The principle firms involved in the building and development of Glover Park were the Gruver brothers and the Cooley brothers; members of the two family firms merged in 1946 to form Gruver Cooley Construction, which is still in business today. The earliest advertisements of Glover Park were placed by Benjamin H. Gruver in 1926. Charles and William Cooley––whose involvement in the development of Glover Park can be dated to about 1931––built their houses in what they originally called “Glover Park Heights”––at 39th, 40th, Benton and Beecher streets. (Washington Post, June 29, 1930; October 31, 1939).
“Glover Park: A Model Community of Modern Homes––at Moderate Prices”
The firm of B.H. Gruver, which had built houses in Petworth, Brightwood and Cleveland Park, rode out the Great Depression by concentrating on the development of Glover Park. To ensure the success of this project Gruver employed George T. Santmyers, one of the most prolific architects of residential buildings in the metropolitan area. Half-timber facades, ornamental brick and stucco –– and a few round-topped doors on Beecher Street –– were intended to evoke an English ideal. “Here the restful beauty of English architecture has been modified to meet the strenuous requirements of modern American living.”
Attention was drawn to the merits of the new development’s location: “The spacious grounds of Mt. Alto, the U.S. Veterans Hospital, form the northern boundary, a particularly desirable feature, inasmuch as this site was chosen because of its high and healthful location” –– a reflection of the widely-held belief that elevation afforded protection against disease.
The brochure sheds light on the naming of Glover Park: “To the west lies the vast rugged beauty of the U.S. Government Glover Parkway, (whence Glover Park received its name) an enormous tract of land of park-like character donated to the U.S. Government by Mr. Charles C. Glover. This park lends a distinct suburban atmosphere and affords unlimited safe and healthful play space for children as well as a recreational haven for grown-ups.” “A portion of the District’s pretentious boulevard system will, in the near future, extend through Glover Parkway.” As its name implies, the original conception of Glover Parkway –– now known as Glover-Archbold Park –– included an intention to build a north-south highway, an idea that was not abandoned until 1967.
Finally, under the heading “Quiet, Restfulness and Contentment”, the prospective buyer was given a particular kind of reassurance that no real estate promotion of that era could be without: a thinly veiled reference to restrictive covenants. “Predetermined and well-defined restrictions are necessary to the life and success of every residential colony and in Glover Park these restrictive standards are steadfastly maintained. Every home owner has the assurance that the newcomers will make desirable neighbors; that his home will be free from undesirable encroachments of any nature and the value of his property will have lasting protection.”
Glover Park Sales Show Improvement: More Than $2,000,000 in Properties Change Hands in Three Years. “Standard appointments include fine hardwood floors throughout, cedar closets, frigidaire equipment, handsome brick mantels with radiant heaters, &c. The luxurious tile baths have pedestal lavatories, showers, built-in Pembroke tubs, and built-in fixtures; and the big, bright, conveniently equipped kitchens are a delight to the housewife. There are numerous big closets, double floor plugs in every room, artistic lighting fixtures, dull brass hardware, and the decorations are in good taste.” (Washington Post, November 22, 1931, p. R5)
“Gruver and Cooleys Seek to Build Row Houses Off Calvert Street.––The refusal of the District Zoning Commission to grant a building permit for the erection of row houses for the Fortieth street frontage and the Thirty-ninth place frontage at Calvert street northwest was attacked in the District Supreme Court yesterday when Benjamin H. Gruver, 927 Fifteenth street northwest, and Charles E. and William O. Cooley, owners of the tract, asked for a court order directing the issuance of such a permit.” (The Zoning Commission sought to restrict the firms to building 123 houses, rather than 171. “Rezoning Refusal Attacked In Suit”, Washington Post, December 5, 1931, p. 24)
Glover Park Heights, Glover Park Hills, and Tunlaw Terrace
(Washington Post, March 19, 1933)
“Cooley Bros., builders of rapidly selling homes, announce that the first group in their 100-home development of English village group and semi-detached houses, featuring a model home at 2424 Thirty-ninth street northwest, is now ready for inspection.” (“New Cooley Homes Ready To Be Shown––First Group in Glover Park Heights Development Is Completed”, Washington Post, February 21, 1932, p.R1)
In 1933 a new group of south-facing homes were advertised in the 3900 block of Benton Street of “Glover Park Heights”; big, heated basement recreation rooms and built-in garages were cited as selling points. The model home was at 3903 Benton Street. (“Cooley Brothers Open Homes in Glover Park”, Washington Herald, February 12, 1933; “New Brick Homes…GLOVER PARK HTS.”, Sunday Star, March 19, 1933)
That same year, B.H. Gruver’s Glover Park exhibit homes were at 2434 and 2448 39th Street. (” ‘New Era’ Homes Establish NEW Standards of Value”, Washington Post, March 19, 1933; “Gruver House Is Attractive In Features”, Washington Post, October 8, 1933, p.R6)
(“Washingtonians Inspect Tunlaw Terrace Dwellings”, September 24, 1933, p.R1)
In the depths of the Depression, Waverly Taylor, Inc. offered buyers of “Tunlaw Terrace”, the four semi-detached homes at 2121-2129 Tunlaw Road, the opportunity to offset some of their costs with rental income. “To meet economic conditions today and particularly to make the purchase of a home the means of balancing the family budget, Waverly Taylor, Inc. offers today for the first time a group of four semi-detached homes in the 2100 block of Tunlaw road northwest, at the intersection of Thirty-seventh street, at the remarkably low price of $8,750. A unique and practical innovation in plan and new features of construction and equipment makes these homes radically different and offer great possibilities for additional revenue without the slightest inconvenience to the owner-occupant. This unusual and income-producing feature as a studio suite, consisting of a large living room with private bath, commodious closets and space for a kitchenette, all on the first floor. As the house is of the Georgian-English basement entrance type, a privacy is afforded to the first floor not possible in ordinary planning which makes this suite most attractive for rental purposes without inconveniencing the owner in the least. Whether as a one-room-and-bath apartment for a young couple, Georgetown University students, young business men or as doctor’s or dentist’s office, its adaptability is at once apparent.”
(“Waverly Taylor Offers 4 Homes In Tunlaw Road”, Washington Post, July 30, 1933, p.R1; “Washingtonians Inspect Tunlaw Terrace Dwellings”, September 24, 1933, p.R1)
The Lytle House
2424 37th Street (photo by Darrow Montgomery)
The house at 2424 37th Street––a strong contender for the smallest house in the District of Columbia––was built in 1933 by a man who worked at Federal Power Commission and the Tennessee Valley Authority, and later became a Georgetown real estate broker. “When Graham C. Lytle built his Glover Park house in 1933, he claimed he was looking for the amenities of an apartment without the noise and disruptions that come along with sharing a building with other tenants. “The endeavor was made to translate apartment size and efficiency into an independent unit within its own four walls,” wrote Lytle in a Christian Science Monitor article.”
(“Tennessee Valley Authority Posts Won by 4 Men Here”, Washington Post, August 26, 1933, p.5; Halle Brunswick, “The Smallest House in the District”, Washington City Paper, September 13, 1996)
3911 Benton Street was featured in 1934, “Equipped with All-Electric Modern Health Kitchens”. (“Glover Park New Cooley Bros. “Fifty-Feature” Homes”, Star, March 17, 1934; Washington Post, April 1, 1934, p.R1) I
In 1935 the model home was at 2320 39th Street. “These houses have as their location one of the city’s finest restricted sections, where the home buyer is assured a neighborhood and environment that will appeal to the most discriminating.” (Washington Post, May 12, 1935, p.R5)
In 1936 the Cooley Brothers showed off their newest house at 2343 40th Street (which surely corresponds to 2243, at the southeast corner of Benton and 4oth). “Of the stately American Colonial type of architecture, this dwelling has six bedrooms, library and large basement recreation room.” While earlier houses had featured copper window screens, the newest Cooly house boasted screens of “enduring aluminum”. (Washington Post, March 8, 1936, p.R8; April 12, 1936, p.R7)
Some groups of houses were the work of builders other than Gruver and Cooley. Houses by Paul P. Stone, realtor, located at 3742 to 3750 W Street, were “distinguished by the fact that their price range is considerably less than that of other quality built homes in Glover Park”. Fourteen new homes at 3821 to 3847 Calvert Street were advertised by Calvert Realty Company in early 1936. The “Surprise Modernistic Attached Home of 1937” at 2331 Huidekoper Place, one of four adjoining houses built and developed by Paul T. Stone, had a knotty pine paneled recreation room. (“New Dwellings In Glover Park Are Presented.––Homes on W Street Will Be Open for Daily Inspection”, Washington Post, September 22, 1935, p.R13; Washington Post, January 5, 1936, p.R1; February 23, 1936, p.R2; October 24, 1937)
(Washington Post, October 24, 1937)
Nineteen tapestry brick houses in “Glover Park Hills”, a “rigidly controlled community”, were offered by the Moss Realty Company in 1936; the exhibit home was at 2115 Huidekoper Place. (“Several Homes In Glover Park Now Are Open”, Washington Post, August 2, 1936, pp.R3, R4)
“Three of the seven homes being presented by Clifton D. Kelley at 2324 to 2336 Huidekoper place northwest, in Glover Park, were sold before completion. The exhibition home at 2334 Huidekoper place is open today and daily until 9 p.m.” (“3 of 7 Homes In Glover Park Group Are Sold”, Washington Post, September 20, 1936, p.R7)
Crowds Visit Gruver House In Glover Park: Offerings in 2400 Block of Thirty-ninth Place Are Now Open Daily.––“Crowds are visiting the latest triumph of B.H. Gruver, master builder, in Glover Park.”
“The first floor plan for these offerings provides, in general, for concrete covered front porch with private vestibule entrance with coat closet; living room of generous size with log-burning stone manteled fireplace; arched opening between living room and dining room with china cabinet; bright dining room, kitchen with latest Oxford built-in cabinets, cream enameled finished double-drain sink, Westinghouse electric refrigerator, insulated gas Quality range and floor linoleum of selected design; rear porch and stairway from living room and from kitchen to second floor.”
“Basement plans arrange for complete recreation room with brick open fireplace, [gas] meter room, service toilet, laundry trays, storage closet, automatic Pittsburgh storage water heater, Bryant gas air-conditioned heat, built-in garage.” “The houses are of new English Normandy type and are designed for comfort.”
“B.H. Gruver is a veteran builder of hundreds of homes. He conceived and originated the Glover Park development and has built approximately 300 homes there. The section is situated on a high elevation, convenient to John Stoddard Grade, Gordon Junior High ad Western High Schools, a public playground, public park, stores, streetcar and bus lines.”
“These homes are among the first of group type to contain air-conditioning in its modern sense. The most advanced form of winter heating, having the full indorsement of the Washington Gas Light Co. engineers, has been installed. This Bryant gas air conditioning system not only furnishes perfect even warmth during any kind of weather, but its circulated conditioned air means protection against colds, sinus and other winter ailments. In summer, also, no draft circulation of air gives comfort without chilling.” (Washington Post, September 27, 1936, p.R5)
The modernist house at 3718 Calvert Street was built in 1939, for Maurice J. Kossow and Elizabeth Gelman Kossow, by Elias Gelman, of Gelman Construction Company, who was Mrs. Kossow’s father. When Mrs. Kossow died in 2009, at age 95, she had lived in this house almost seventy years.
The house was designed by the firm of Dillon and Abel (who also designed the Park Plaza, at 3925 Davis Place). Charles E. Dillon, and his partner Joseph H. Abel, were among the first architects in Washington, D.C. to adopt the International Style.
(“D.C. Building In Week Rises To $411,652”, Washington Post, September 11, 1938, p.R1) (“Arnold Co. To Build”, Washington Post, January 15, 1939, p.R4; August 20, 1939, p.R11; James Goode, Best Addresses: A Century of Washington’s Distinguished Apartment Houses, 1988)
In 1938 Dorie C. Gruver, Benjamin Gruver’s son, advertised 2233 39th Place as a model for his newest houses in the 2200 block of that street. White oak floors and Bryant automatic gas heat were standard, and basements featured a recreation room, a laundry, and a servant’s lavatory. (“Gruver Opens A New Section Of Glover Park”, Washington Post, February 20, 1938, p.R4) 2408-2420 Tunlaw Road was built by Reliable Construction & Realty Co., and was offered by J. Garrett Beitzell. (Washington Post, June 16, 1940, p.R9)
On the Sunday morning of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Dorie C. Gruver advertised the showing of 2215 to 2227 Observatory Place, “probably among the last that can be purchased in this vicinity”. (2215-2227 appears to correspond to the present 2221-2233, a renumbering occasioned by the insertion, in 1950, of the present 2215-2219.) Business appears to have been brisk, as only one house was left in early 1942. (On this occasion the Gruver family firm marked its thirtieth year in business, and the thirteenth year since beginning the development of Glover Park; why 1926 and 1927 were not counted is unknown. Washington Post, December 7, 1941, p.R2; January 25, 1942, p.R1; November 12, 1950, p.R6)
This was the end of the single-family rowhouse phase of the development of Glover Park. Since 1942, almost all of the housing added in Glover Park has been in the form of apartment buildings.
(Washington Post, December 7, 1941, p.R2)
(Washington Post, January 25, 1942, p.R1)
An interactive map of every structure in the city, showing square and lot, year built, original owner, and other useful information, was made available by the District of Columbia Historic Preservation Office in 2016.
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