CRESTWOOD HISTORY: EIGHT FLASHBACKS FOR THE EIGHTH MONTH
by David Swerdloff
August 4, 1720 - The first map of Crestwood is completed by surveyor James Stoddert for the 300-acre parcel originally called Argile Cowall and Lorn. The estate had been established in March 1719—meaning that the neighborhood’s 300th birthday is just six months away!
August 18,1889 -The Washington Post describes the mighty force of “Rock Creek Falls” in the area of Crystal Spring. The waterway “raves and storms in its headlong fury” with a roar so “deafening” that “your own voice is thundered into silence.” The article predicts that electricity generated by the creek’s “unused power will transport a population large as Washington now has back and forth on the Seventh and Fourteenth street roads [by streetcar], and light the entire city.”
August 4,1950 - President Truman is in attendance just north of Crestwood at the premiere of Faith of Our Fathers, a musical about the life of George Washington. What was soon to be called Carter Barron Amphitheatre was built specifically to stage the historic pageant. However, the musical ran for just two summer seasons. Eventually, the amphitheatre was used for concerts, ballets, plays and even circuses.
August 6, 1861 - Congress passes and Abraham Lincoln signs the Confiscation Act of 1861 authorizing the seizure of any Confederate property that had been used to support the rebel cause. US forces could also confiscate slaves, since the South considered them to be “property” – leading to the term “contraband” to refer to escaped slaves declared free under this Act. Many contrabands were employed just northeast of Crestwood at Camp Brightwood to help construct and maintain Fort Stevens and other Civil War fortifications.
August, 1962 - The main developer of Crestwood, Paul Stone, is pictured outside his home at 2029 Trumbull Terrace (along with neighbor Mary Anglemyer of 2035). This was the last in a series of homes Stone would build and live in, before putting the house on the market.
August 14,1901 - DC Commissioners release a plan for naming streets in more than 100 subdivisions, mostly east of Rock Creek Park. These include the streets that would eventually be extended into Crestwood. The system formalized the pattern of numbered streets running north and south—and east-west streets arranged in alphabetical order in a series of one-syllable, two-syllable and threesyllable names. Especially significant was the requirement that each east-west street be named after a famous American. So names familiar west of the park— like Albemarle and Brandywine—could not be used to the east. Instead, we got Allison and Buchanan and dozens of other names, mainly of late 19th century Americans.
August 19, 1867 - The National Republican newspaper reports on a gathering of African American worshippers at Crystal Spring (about where the tennis stadium is today). Some 8,000 people were said to have assembled at the “camp meeting.” During the last half of the 19th century, this spot was a popular destination for a variety of Washingtonians. It was for a time the site of a hotel resort—but was also known as a meeting place where “well-known gentlemen…camped under the spreading limbs…in lazy fun, telling stories, smoking cigars, drinking lemonade and spring water and getting up an appetite for Brunswick stew” (National Republican, July 1875).
August 29,1891 - Although Rock Creek Park has been established, people continue to live in some of the properties acquired to create the park. The Evening Star describes “Mr. Willis’ green house” at the junction of Broad Branch and Rock Creek, with “his residence being on the summit of the hill to the northward…Fish Rock, a good fishing and bathing point, is at the base of this hill.”