Our New Oral History Project: First Fruits!
Interview transcripts will be archived as part of the Records of the Cleveland Park Historical Society at the Kiplinger Library of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., and will be freely available to the public both here and via HSW’s library website.
The first interview of the new project was with George Idelson. Click the link at right to read his oral history. Next up this winter: transcripts of interviews with Lou Stovall and Clare Tighe. Stay tuned!
George Idelson, now in his 90s, has lived in Washington since 1950 and in Cleveland Park since 1967. He has a long history of leadership in community organizations, particularly on preservation issues. In this oral history conducted in November 2017 by Abigail Porter, George reflects on what’s changed and what hasn’t over fifty years in Cleveland Park.
Oral Histories of Cleveland Park Residents in Other Online Projects
As our new project gets under way, we are eager to share oral histories of Cleveland Park residents that have been completed as part of other projects and are freely available online. If you know of other oral histories out there that we should link to, please email and let us know.
William and Sandra Christenberry (2010 interview, Archives of American Art)
Al Friendly (2003 interview, Bates College Edmund Muskie Collection)
Pie Friendly (2012 interview, Citizens Association of Georgetown)
Ann O. Hamilton (2006 interview, World Bank)
David B. Isbell (2008-2009 interviews, Historical Society of the DC Circuit)
Stephen J. Pollak (2002-2010 interviews, Historical Society of the DC Circuit)
Charles F. C. Ruff (2000 interview, Historical Society of the DC Circuit)
Anne Truitt (2002 interview, Archives of American Art)
1984 Oral Histories
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.
These oral histories are arranged in order of the date their subjects moved to Cleveland Park. The files linked here represent the first half of those in the booklet, those whose time in Cleveland Park began between 1907 and 1965.
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.
Philip Stone Grew up in Cleveland Park, 1907—
Mary Louise and James Swindells Grew up in Cleveland Park, 1908—
Virginia Stephenson Grew up in Cleveland Park, 1912—
Elizabeth Faulkner Grew up at Rosedale, 1917—
Marjorie Morris Sinclair Grew up in Cleveland Park, 1918—
Ruth Merwin Grew up in Cleveland Park, 1918—
Mary Ellen Grogan Grew up in Cleveland Park, 1927—
Julius Andrascek University Pastry Shop baker from 1930 and owner from 1949
Patricia Scanlan Grew up in Cleveland Park, 1931—
Miriam and Elliot Moyer Moved to Cleveland Park in 1941
Harry Sachse Lived in Cleveland Park as a boy during WWII
Bobby Abbo Owner of The Roma Restaurant; moved to Cleveland Park in 1945
Hazel Graves Moved to Cleveland Park in 1947
Margaret Rood Lenzner and Tony Rood Grew up in Cleveland Park in the 1950s
Hilda and Sturgis Warner Moved to Cleveland Park in 1951
Libby Rowe Moved to Cleveland Park in 1951
Nick Linebaugh Grew up in Cleveland Park 1953-1963
Betty Miles Moved to Cleveland Park in 1954
Thomas Sullivan Owner of Sullivan’s Toy Store from 1954
Philip Caruso Owner of Friendship Florist from 1956
Peggy Ives Moved to Cleveland Park in 1962
Wally Valentini Assistant Manager of the Safeway on Connecticut Avenue
Kathryn Gibson Cleveland Park resident 1965-1977