These oral histories were collected in 1984 by students at John Eaton as part of a project headed by Rives Carroll. They were published in a booklet called Cleveland Park Voices: A Social History. A year later, when CPHS was founded, our newsletter inherited the name Voices.
The oral histories are arranged in order of the date their subjects moved to Cleveland Park. The files linked below represent the first half of those in the booklet, with the date of arrival in Cleveland Park in parentheses after the name.
The earliest residents remember a time when Cleveland Park was still almost entirely rural. Sledding is a major theme; Philip Stone remembers sledding down Macomb Street from the 3500 block all the way across Connecticut Avenue! Elizabeth Faulkner remembers growing up in the Rosedale Farmhouse. She was the daughter of Queenie Coonley, patron of Frank Lloyd Wright who moved to Rosedale in 1917. Mary Ellen Grogan remembers when Ordway Street wasn’t paved all the way through from Connecticut to Wisconsin, and Helen Hayes was a John Eaton student.
The interviews include the proprietors and staff of beloved neighborhood institutions: the late, lamented University Pastry Shop, which was on Wisconsin just south of Macomb (Julius Andrascek); Roma Restaurant (Bobby Abbo); Sullivan’s (Thomas Sullivan); Friendship Florist (Philip Caruso); and the Safeway that used to be where the Brookville Supermarket is now (Wally Valentini).
Residents who remember the war years describe a neighborhood in some danger of being deemed “blighted” in the aftermath of the Depression. People who wanted to buy in Cleveland Park paid sub-prime rates. Many houses were turned into group homes as World War II brought a huge housing shortage to Washington, and there were so few children that John Eaton was in danger of being closed.
The description of the neighborhood by people who were kids here in the ’50s will be familiar to people who grew up in the Cleveland Park of the ’60s and ’70s, too – walking to school by scrambling over the banks and under the boxwoods of Rosedale; shopping at Murphy’s; eating old-school Chinese food at the Moon Palace.
We’ll post more interviews soon! Enjoy those below. (Links are to PDF files.)