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A compilation of historical information about the section of the District of Columbia, in and around the northern extension of the former city of Georgetown––with brief histories of Glover Park, BurleithCathedral Heights, Wesley Heights, and Massachusetts Avenue Heights––and notes on prehistory, land tracts, settlement, occupations, estates and farms, institutions, cemeteries, slavery, emancipation, and the Civil War, as well as maps, photographs, genealogical notes, oral history and reminiscences.

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Georgetown and parts of Washington County, Topographical Map of the District of Columbia, surveyed in the years 1856-1859 by Albert Boschke, (detail).

The city of Georgetown and adjacent parts of Washington County, as seen in a detail of the Topographical Map of the District of Columbia, surveyed in the years 1856-1859 by Albert Boschke.

 

 

The northern boundaries of the city of Georgetown, as confirmed by Congress––”An Act Amending the Charter of Georgetown,” March 3, 1809––are shown in red on a modern street map. (Prepared by Col. Robert B. Curtiss, of the Burleith Citizens Association in 1974.)

The northern tip of the former city of Georgetown was near the present intersection of Tunlaw Road and Fulton Street.  (Map by Robert B. Curtiss, 1974.)

 

Because the northern corporation boundary of the city of Georgetown ran as far north as the present Russian Embassy, the earliest settlers of what is now Glover Park––circa 1808––appear in Georgetown tax assessments. Peter Colter, a German immigrant, and Murray Barker, a free black man, raised families along what is now Wisconsin Avenue, and supported themselves as truck gardeners, growing produce for the Georgetown market.

 

 

 

The earliest institution of the neighborhood was the Georgetown Poorhouse, which stood just east of what is now Guy Mason Recreation Center, and was in operation from 1832 to 1875; after which it became the Industrial Home School, which closed in 1954.

The oldest surviving institution is Holy Rood Cemetery, which also dates to 1832. The last resting place for seven thousand white and black Catholics of Georgetown, Holy Rood includes the best-documented slave burial ground in the District of Columbia, and the grave of Joseph Nevitt, a Minuteman of the American Revolution.

 

 

Holy Rood Cemetery in 1950, before the cobblestones were covered with asphalt. (Historical Society of Washington)

Holy Rood Cemetery in 1950. (Historical Society of Washington)

 

 

During the Civil War the Signal Corps trained on the heights overlooking Georgetown; Northern women founded the Colored Home and the Industrial Home School; and the earliest known photographs of the neighborhood were taken.

 

The Signal Camp of Instruction, 1861. (Miller’s Photographic History of the Civil War , 1911)

The Signal Camp of Instruction, 1861. The photographer appears to have set up his camera north and west of the present intersection of Calvert Street and Tunlaw Road. In the distance beyond the encampment the landmarks include Trinity Church Upper Burial Ground, Back Street, and The Cedars––corresponding to the present Holy Rood Cemetery, Tunlaw Road, and Duke Ellington High School. (Miller’s Photographic History of the Civil War , 1911)

 

Looking south from Red Hill; there appear to be two sheep in the foreground. (Carlisle Military Institute)

“The Signal Camp of Instruction, Red Hill, Georgetown, D.C.”   The prominent house in the distance is Richard S. Cox’s “Burleith”, and to its right, farther away, Georgetown College. (Carlisle Military Institute)

 

Images of the military activity on the heights overlooking Georgetown reveal the open look of the land in the 19th century, when the neighborhood was dominated by the operations of a syndicate of master butchers, the suppliers of meat to the markets of Georgetown and of Washington City, who accumulated most of the land that was to become Glover Park.

 

Joseph T. Kengla and family, circa 1881 (detail). (Courtesy of a descendant.)

Joseph T. Kengla and family, circa 1881. Kengla, a dealer in beef, lamb, veal and mutton, lived at about 2320 Wisconsin Avenue, where the Sheffield Condominium is today.  (Photo courtesy of a descendant.)

 

After the Civil War the butcher’s syndicate of Georgetown­­ had to adjust to changes in their industry. As more livestock was arriving, by rail, on the other side of the city, the cattle market, stock pens, and slaughterhouses on this side of the city became increasingly irrelevant. At the same time, suburban land tracts on the periphery of the former cities of Washington and Georgetown, formerly devoted to agricultural use, were beginning to be developed for residential use. The butchers owned a considerable amount of open land at the northern end of Georgetown, and its increased value, once they ceased conducting their operations on it, and freed it for other use, was obvious to them.

Joseph Weaver, Jacob H. Kengla, and Benjamin F. Hunt, who were among the most prosperous of the Georgetown butchers, took steps to enhance the residential potential of their real estate by incorporating a streetcar line between Georgetown and Tenleytown.

 

Conductor Terrance Sellers on the open platform of car No. 1 of the Georgetown & Tenallytown Street Railway. (Photo courtesy of Mike Copperthite)

The Georgetown & Tenallytown Street Railway, on what is now Wisconsin Avenue. (Photo courtesy of a descendant.)

 

Much of the present neighborhood was acquired in 1911 by the banker Charles Carroll Glover from the estate of Henry Kengla, and the earliest advertisements to use the name Glover Park were placed in 1926.

 

Charles Carroll Glover (1846-1936), President of Riggs Bank.

Charles Carroll Glover (1846-1936), President of Riggs Bank.

 

 

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This project has been generously supported by District of Columbia Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3B. My thanks to Commissioners Brian Cohen and Mary C. Young, and to Danna McCormick, of DLM Web Development.

I have benefitted from the generosity of many historians, and am indebted to the patience and resourcefulness of many archivists and reference librarians, and in particular, to those of the Washingtoniana Division of Martin Luther King Library.

This work is dedicated to the memory of Robert W. Lyle (1922-1996) of the Peabody Room of the Georgetown Branch Library, who first guided me to the records of the part of Georgetown that is now in Glover Park.

 

 

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