Cleveland Park

homepageCleveland Park is a residential neighborhood in the Northwest quadrant of Washington, D.C. The main commercial corridor lies along Connecticut Avenue NW. This is also the location of the Cleveland Park station on the Metro’s Red Line. Another commercial corridor lies conveniently nearby along Wisconsin Avenue. The neighborhood is known for its many late 19th century homes and the historic Art Deco Uptown Theater. It is also home to the William L. Slayton House and the Park and Shop, built in 1930 and one of the earliest strip malls. Originally home to the first American settler, General Uriah Forrest, the area later housed the Youth For Understanding, an international student exchange organization. In 2002, the Rosedale grounds were placed in a public conservancy,  and the farmhouse, said to be the oldest house in Washington, returned to residential use. Other estates followed. Gardiner Greene Hubbard, first president of the National Geographic Society, built his estate, Twin Oaks, on 50 acres in 1888. 

 

The neighborhood acquired its name after 1886, when President Grover Cleveland purchased a stone farmhouse directly opposite the Rosedale estate and remodeled it into a Queen Anne style summer estate called Oak View or Oak Hill (by other accounts, Red Top). After losing the his bid for re-election in 1888, Cleveland’s property was sold and the Oak View subdivision was conceived in 1890. The Cleveland Heights subdivision was also planned around the same time with the Cleveland Park subdivision to come soon after. Early large-scale development was spurred by the neighborhood’s prime topography, which provided a breezy relief from the hot swampy air in the lowlands that then comprised much of the built-up area of Washington. Most of the houses built during this period show their intended use as summer houses in the era before air conditioning, having such features as wide porches, large windows, and overhanging eaves. While the first subdivisions were made in response to the extension of the Georgetown and Tennallytown electric streetcar line along Wisconsin Avenue, the success of the neighborhood was the result of the Rock Creek Railway, built on Connecticut Avenue in 1892. Once Cleveland Park was connected to downtown Washington, the neighborhood’s second phase of development, as a “streetcar suburb” began.  Most houses were designed by individual architects and builders, including Waddy B. Wood, resulting in a mix of the popular housing styles of the time, notably the Queen Anne style, Georgian Revival, and the Mission Revival.