Cleveland Park -Washington DC

Cleveland Park is unusual because of its concentration of architect-designed late Victorian frame houses reminiscent of New England summer homes. Also unusual is the fact that the suburban development that began in 1894 was superimposed upon land previously occupied by estates, extant examples of which remain. Cleveland Park maintained its rural ambiance throughout the period of its development to the 1940s. All of the streets between the avenues in Cleveland Park retain the suburban flavor of the initial development with a preponderance of single-family dwellings set in generous natural surroundings. President Grover Cleveland summered in Cleveland Park at Red Top (Oak Hill) which was demolished in 1927.

The oldest house in Cleveland Park is Rosedale (Forrest Home) located at 3501 Newark Street. This asymmetrical, frame farmhouse with chimneys at both ends was built in 1794 by Uriah Forrestre, recalling the 17th-century colonial frame buildings of the southern states. Even older are stone buildings that now form the wings of the house, probably built c. 1740. Twin Oaks, located at 3225 Woodley Road, is the only remaining example of a house designed to be a summer home located in the historic district. It is an early example of a Colonial Revival house and was designed in 1888 by Francis Richmond Allen on a 17-acre estate which was originally part of a 50-acre tract. Twenty acres of this tract were sold in 1911. Tregaron (The Causeway) is located on that remaining 20 acres of the above tract at 3029 Klingle Road. This brick Neo-classical mansion stands on a crest of a hill and was designed in 1912 by Charles Adams Platt. In 1940, the estate was sold to Marjorie Merriweather Post and her husband Joseph Davies, who built a Russian Style Dacha on the grounds. The Homestead (La Quinta) is located at 2700 Macomb Street and was the last country house built in Cleveland Park. It was designed in 1914 by Frederick B. Pyle and in 1930 was enlarged into a Georgian mansion. In 1945, the newly independent Indian government purchased the house as a residence for the Indian Ambassador.

Cleveland Park, President Cleveland’s summer home. Sketch by Hughson Hawley, c. 1892. From the collections of the Historical Society of Washington, DC.

Most of the single family dwellings in the streetcar suburb were built between 1894 and 1930. During the first construction phase (1894 to 1901), the houses were individually designed by local architects and builders who employed a great variety of styles representing the eclecticism of the day. Robert Thompson Head, the most prolific architect for the Cleveland Park Company, was influenced by Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, Japanese, and Prairie styles. Waddy Wood introduced the first Shingle and Mission Revival homes in the neighborhood. During this period all of the houses were constructed of wood and employed a proliferation of decorative details which include turrets, towers, oriel and bay windows, steep gables with half timbering, tall pilastered chimneys, Palladian windows, Georgian porches, Richardsonian arches, decorative brackets and Adamesque swags. The houses with their varied verandas were situated on generous lots and set well back from the street.

During the second phase of construction there was an increasing simplification of house design. The houses continued to be primarily constructed of wood but some were covered with pebble dash, and the first brick houses were built in 1904-5. The Foursquare house with evident Prairie style influence was popular. The front porch continued to be a standard feature.

There are a number of significant apartment houses in the district as well as commercial structures. Some outstanding examples are noted below. The Broadmoor located at 3601 Connecticut Avenue was designed by Joseph Abel in 1928 and is representative the eclecticism of that period. Tilden Gardens is located at 3900 Connecticut Avenue and was built in 1927-30 by architects Parks and Baxter and Harry Edwards. Sedgewick Gardens at 3726 Connecticut Avenue designed by Mihran Mesrobian in 1931 is a significant Art Deco building.

Cleveland Park’s Uptown Theater
NPS Photo

The low-rise commercial area along Connecticut Avenue also has significant buildings. The firehouse at 3522 Connecticut Avenue, designed in 1916 by Snowden Ashford, is the oldest commercial building. Arthur Heaton’s nationally acclaimed 1930 design for the Park and Shop, an early automobile-oriented neighborhood shopping center located at 3507-23 Connecticut Avenue, is a domestically scaled Colonial Revival style example of this influential building type. The Uptown Theater designed by John J. Zinc in 1939 at 3426 Connecticut is a significant Art Deco building, and one of the last large period movie houses in the city.

Several residences constructed since 1941 are outstanding examples of the work of nationally significant architects. I.M.Pei designed a house at 3411 Ordway Street in 1962. Washington architect, Winthrop Faulkner, designed a series of homes on Ordway and 35th Streets in 1963, 1968 and 1978 for his family illustrating his architectural styles. Waldron Faulkner, his father, designed 3415 36th Street for himself with Art Deco and Greek decorative motifs. The Cleveland Park Historic District is a site that has major interrelated historic, architectural, and cultural significance. The particular qualities that make it significant arise from its unique character as a livable intown community (almost like a village) of single-family houses, apartment buildings and small businesses. It continues to be home to many prominent Washingtonians.

Cleveland Parks is roughly bounded by Klingle and Woodley Rds., NW, on the south; Wisconsin Ave., NW, on the west; Rodman and Tilden Sts., NW, on the north; and the rear of properties along Connecticut Ave., NW, on the east. The buildings described are private and are not open to the public. Metro stop: Cleveland Park