What is now Cleveland Park began in the 18th century with Pretty Prospects (later known as Rosedale), a single estate of nearly a thousand acres. The yellow farmhouse in the middle of the Rosedale property (3501 Newark Street) was the home of Revolutionary War General Uriah Forrest. The rear section of the Rosedale Farmhouse dates to the 1730s and is the oldest house in Washington. Today, the grounds in front of the farmhouse are preserved by the Rosedale Conservancy for everyone to enjoy.
During his first term as president, Grover Cleveland bought a house just south of Rosedale from Uriah Forrest’s descendants and turned it into a summer retreat. That house, which was razed in 1927, stood near 36th Street between Macomb and Newark Streets. In the 1890s, the extension of the electric streetcar line up Connecticut Avenue made possible for the first time an easy commute between upper North-west and downtown Washington. Cleveland Park was developed as a streetcar “suburb” from the 1890s on. Some of the earliest houses from this phase of development are on Newark Street and Highland Place, and on Macomb near the site of President Cleveland’s old house. Cleveland Park is noted for its architectural diversity. The neighborhood showcases all the popular architectural styles of the late 19th and early 20th centuries—Queen Anne, Shingle, Colonial Revival, Dutch Colonial Revival, Mission Revival, Tudor Revival, Craftsman foursquares and bungalows—as well as important modern houses, including one by I.M. Pei and several by Waldron Faulkner and his son Winthrop Faulkner
This brochure from the D.C. Historic Preservation Office provides a great introduction to Cleveland Park’s history and architecture.
Click here for access to an archive of blog posts on this site relating to Cleveland Park history.
See also this this page for oral histories of Cleveland Park residents and the back issues of our newsletter.
Read about the history of John Eaton Elementary School in the booklet published to celebrate its centennial in 2011.
BIBLIOGRAPHY ON CLEVELAND PARK HISTORY
Anderson, Cherrie, Kathleen Sinclair Wood, and John Weibenson. Cleveland Park: A Guide to Architectural Styles and Building Types. Washington, D.C.: Cleveland Park Historical Society, 1998.
Longstreth, Richard, ed. Housing Washington: Two Centuries of Residential Development and Planning in the National Capital Area. Chicago: Center for American Places, 2010.
Ozer, Mark N. Northwest Washington, D.C.: Tales from West of the Park. Charleston, S.C.: The History Press, 2011.
Peter, Grace Dunlop, and Joyce D. Southwick. Cleveland Park: An Early Residential Suburb of the Nation’s Capital. Washington, D.C.: Cleveland Park Community Library Committee, 1958.
Smith, Kathryn S., ed. Washington at Home: An Illustrated History of Neighborhoods in the Nation’s Capital. 2nd ed. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010.
Williams, Paul K., and Kelton C. Higgins. Cleveland Park. Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia Publishing, 2003.
HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS IN LOCAL LIBRARIES
The archives of the Washington National Cathedral contain records of the search by Bishop Satterlee, the Cathedral Foundation trustees, and Phoebe Hearst, for land on which to build the Cathedral and its educational institutions in the 1890s, amid the early land-rush among developers buying up the old estates in this area.
D.C. Public Library
Washingtoniana Division, MLK Library: Washingtoniana’s collections, described here, are unparalleled for local-history and house-history research in the District. It is worth following Washingtoniana on Facebook for notices about their programs and workshops. NB Fall 2018: While the MLK Library is being renovated, Washingtoniana is in temporary quarters right nearby at 4340 Connecticut Avenue. To make an appointment to visit the collection there, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Washington Post and Evening Star archives: Did you know that a D.C. public library card gives you free access to full-text search of the Washington Post back to 1877 and the Evening Star back to 1852? Explore the available databases here. Happy searching!
Historical Society of Washington
HSW’s Kiplinger Library is a very important archive and library for Washington history. HSW holds the archives of CPHS, as well as many other resources for neighborhood history research. Their hours are by appointment only, so please call them to arrange a visit. The online search function for their collections is very user-friendly. Many of their photographs and archival finding aids have been digitized and can be consulted online via this search interface. Note that it is possible to search by neighborhood and/or street address.
Library of Congress
HABS: Records of the Historic American Buildings Survey, a WPA-era project that still continues to document historic structures, are searchable online here.
Pamela Scott, “Residential Architecture of Washington, D.C., and its Suburbs,” an essay online at the Library of Congress’s website, discusses a number of architects important in Cleveland Park’s development, including Waddy Wood, and covers LC’s and other area libraries’ relevant holdings.