Old Woodley Park-Washington DC


Commercial area along Connecticut Avenue
Photo courtesy of the DC SHPO

The neighborhood now known as Old Woodley Park is a distinct urban neighborhood, characterized by stately queues of dignified 20th-century rowhouses carefully articulated in the classical language of architecture, embellished by the rich greenery of street landscape, and bordered by sweeping parklands. Its current boundaries were delineated in the mid-1870s as a subdivision of rural property. Later the noted land speculator Thomas Waggaman acquired Woodley Park and, after his untimely demise, the numerous rows of refined dwellings were built, tangibly forming the singular 20th-century neighborhood that retains its 19th-century name.

The unique architectural character of Old Woodley Park is formed by strings of handsome, 20th-century rowhouses and townhouses constructed by a variety of notable local builders and architects. The actual building construction that eluded this area for so long was begun and largely completed in only 25 years (1905-1929), and resulted in a cohesive urban neighborhood consisting primarily of attached houses and the services which attended (and continue to attend) them.

Connecticut Avenue, c. 1930
Photo courtesy of the DC SHPO

Connecticut Avenue is now the major thoroughfare dividing Woodley Park. Extended in 1890, it has become a major access road to upper northwest Washington. Today, the length of Connecticut Avenue is lined primarily by tall structures, mainly apartment buildings and office buildings, punctuated by groups of smaller commercial buildings. In Woodley Park, however, sufficient numbers of single-family residences stand along Connecticut Avenue to remind the passerby that it once was conceived to be an elegant residential boulevard.

Old Woodley Park Historic District is roughly bounded by 24th and 29th Sts., NW, to the west; Cathedral Ave., NW, to the north; Rock Creek Park to the east; and Calvert and Woodley Rds., NW, to the south. The buildings described are private and not open to the public. Metro stop: Woodley Park-Zoo