Here at CPHS, we’ve received quite a flurry of queries from neighbors recently about where Grover Cleveland’s house was. We’re not sure what prompted the sudden interest,* but it seemed like a good topic for a blog post.
First, some basics:
- President Cleveland acquired the house in what would become Cleveland Park in 1886, during his first term as President, the year he married Frances Folsom.
- He bought an 1868 stone farmhouse south of Rosedale from George Forrest Green, grandson of the 18th-century owner of Rosedale (then called “Pretty Prospects”), and hired architect William Poindexter to Victorianize it with the many porches and turrets you see in the picture above.
- The house’s roofs were red, and everyone called it “Red Top” — everyone, that is, except President Cleveland, who insisted — INSISTED — that its name was Oak View. (Oak View later became the name for the earliest development in this part of the neighborhood.) You can see a color image of Oak View/Red Top on the call box at the corner of Macomb and 35th Streets.
- Cleveland sold Oak View in 1890 when he was not reelected, and the house was ultimately razed in 1927. (Click here to read an 1890 Washington Post article on the sale of Cleveland’s house.) The house that was built by the new owners of the site in 1927 is the large brick house at 3542 Newark, opposite the entrance to the Rosedale driveway.
We can say with some confidence that the President’s summer property occupied what is now the block between Newark and Macomb and 36th and 35th Streets. Because the house that replaced it is oriented towards Newark Street, it is often assumed that Oak View was, too. But on maps from the time between when Cleveland sold the house and when it was razed, we can see that the house sat much closer to Macomb Street. In this 1903 map, Rosedale is in the square to the north, and President Cleveland’s former property is to the south. The house on that land is marked with the blue arrow:
On the 1903 map, you can see the older street names for Ordway and Macomb Streets, as well as the subdivision names Oak View and Cleveland Heights. Platting and building by developers had begun on the northeast corner of the property, facing Newark.
In the 1919 view of the same blocks, the situation is much the same except that houses have now been built on the southeast corner of Cleveland’s former property, facing Macomb Street:
It’s hard to tell from the views of the Cleveland’s house in the images above what vantage point they were taken from, what direction the porches faced, and how the house we see in those images relates to the footprint of the house as depicted in the Baist atlases. If anyone has any more information, please comment and share it with us!
*Ghosts of DC had a great post about President Cleveland’s house in early March, but our mini-flood of queries started before that. Apparently we’re having a Grover Cleveland moment.