Our Familiar Stone Retaining Walls … Once Not So Familiar

Back in January of this year, I was saddened to see that one of the many familiar decorative stone walls edging a property on Park Place was finally destroyed by water getting into the cracks of the wall and freezing.

Not an enviable position to be in, to be sure. Aside from the cost of the repairs are the modern building techniques and zoning laws that impact such a repair.

Then, this fall, work began to repair the wall. The process was meticulous as each stone was removed and numbered. The finished product looks great, and if you happen to be walking past 3650 Park Place, you may want to check it out for yourself.

If you have a wall in need of repair, you may want to check out FMS Construction, Inc. of Silver Spring, Md. (Contact: Fernando Silva, 202-876-3645), since they are responsible for this repair.

While its hard to imagine Washington neighborhoods without these walls, it will surprise some to learn that they are not original to the neighborhood. In looking at images of Park View taken around 1920, the stone walls are absent.

As you can see from the historic photo of the home on the southeast corner of Warder and Princeton Place to the right (taken ca. 1920),  all yards had when the neighborhood was young were low concrete curbs.

While I don’t know when it became fashionable to build the stone walls, or even if this is something that needed to be done when the streets were paved (the historic image shows an unpaved street that appears to be slightly higher than the current Warder Street), its clear that this improvement happened sometime in the 1920s.

A real estate ad from May 1, 1927 — included below — for a home on Benton Street lists “large front yards inclosed [sic] by decorative stone walls, with vases for flowers and shrubbery” among the amenities of the home.

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5 Comments on “Our Familiar Stone Retaining Walls … Once Not So Familiar”

  1. John Says:

    I wonder if the street — Park Place — was lowered for some reason. Perhaps a placing of a sewer or piping required a lower street that in turn required retaining walls.

  2. Kent Says:

    Good question. I was told by one reader that if I want to look at the Commissioner Reports they indicate when the roads were paved. I’ll have to follow that lead, but none of the reports are online … so … another trip to another library/archive.

  3. IMGoph Says:

    awesome to see someone actually taking care to fix a great thing like this wall, instead of replacing it with cinder block or out-of-place bright red brick!


  4. What’s up, this weekend is pleasant in support of me, since this time i
    am reading this fantastic educational article here at my home.

  5. Marilyn BAird Says:

    Does anyone know what the shallow planters were designed to hold?


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