Georgetown and Glover Park


Laid out in 1751, the city of Georgetown was expanded in 1769 by Beatty & Hawkins’ Addition to Georgetown, three hundred new lots on either side of Wisconsin Avenue, from what is now N Street, all the way to the Russian Embassy. During the seventy years that Georgetown was a separate municipality with in the District of Columbia, the families whose houses were here before Glover Park was developed all appear in Georgetown directories and tax assessments.

District of Columbia Organic Act of 1871 revoked the charters of the City of Washington, the City of Georgetown, and of Washington County––to which, judging by the editorials of the Georgetown Courier, Georgetown had no objection. Georgetown was renamed West Washington some time after the Organic Act of 1878. Renaming of Georgetown streets by the Commissioners appears to have happened in 1879. In January of 1881 the Evening Star began to run articles on the news from “West Washington, nee Georgetown.” (“Renaming the Streets and Renumbering the Houses in Georgetown”, ”Evening Star, June 18, 1879, p.1; “West Washington nee Georgetown”, January 1-8, 1881, p.8; “City Talk and Chatter”, Washington Post, January 2, 1881, p.4)

By degrees the former city of Georgetown, with neighborhoods of its own––Brick Hill, Herring Hill, Holy Hill––came to understood as no more than a neighborhood of Washington, and by no means the best. Official reports of slum conditions in the District of Columbia routinely included parts of Georgetown.


Street scene near 36th and O Street, Georgetown, 1935 (Photograph by Carl Mydans, Library of Congress)


Street scene near 36th and O Street, Georgetown, 1935 (Photograph by Carl Mydans, Library of Congress)


As Georgetown was associated with decline, newer neighborhoods, such as Glover Park, were associated with progress and modernity. Indeed, the first generation of Glover Parkers included many Georgetowners, for whom the move up Wisconsin Avenue represented a step up in the world. “Our life in Glover Park was more comfortable in many ways than our life in Georgetown had been. Mainly because we had electricity. And indoor plumbing.”  The subsequent gentrification of formerly blue-collar parts of Georgetown was of no benefit to them, and is now more likely to inspire annoyance than awe among those who used to live there.  (“A Georgetown Childhood In Mid-Century”, Washington History, Fall/Winter 1996-97)

The original northern extension of Georgetown, from Whitehaven Parkway to the Russian Embassy, is long forgotten, and the scattered frame houses built a century before Glover Park was born––and the Victorian houses that later lined Wisconsin Avenue––were torn down before they could become historic. The tannery that operated where the Georgetown Safeway is, and the numerous slaughterhouses that stood between Whitehaven Parkway and Fulton Street, probably had no mourners. By 1950, when Congress drew the boundaries of the Georgetown Historic District, there was nothing left north of Whitehaven Parkway that was deemed worthy of historic preservation.




Carlton Fletcher

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