Archive for November 26, 2014

Georgia Avenue History: Lost Country Houses

November 26, 2014

Georgia Field house

Recently I found a great article from the Washington Star that provides a snapshot of the kind of estates that one populated Georgia Avenue around Rock Creek Church Road before they were razed to make way for the growing suburbs. Two properties are featured, one being the house of George Field which was located on the east side of Georgia at Otis. In fact, the Field house was literally on Otis, and razed so that the street could be cut in. The article was published on March 19, 1916, and though unknown to the author, is interesting in that the Field property would not remain a stately country home much longer. Beginning in 1917, Lewis Breuninger would begin subdividing the property into the street we see today.

I’ve also noted before that the home of George Field was known for its greenhouses and has a connection with the development of the American Beauty Rose.

Below is the 1916 article in full:

An old and well maintained red brick house on the east side of 7th street just north of Park road has often attracted the attention of the Ramble, and no doubt many thousands of other Washingtonians hae given this picturesque and old-fashioned place a glance and a thought. That house stood there when the great highway which passes before it was called the 7th street road or the 7th street pike, a name which was discarded in favor ot “Brightwood avenue,” and which name gave way to “Georgia avenue.” The house is old, but the Rambler, in a spirit both of compliment and of truth, must say that it still looks young. The Rambler will not say of this house that “it does no look its age.” This is often said of a man, and perhaps sometimes of a woman, but the Rambler feels that though this observaiton may be prompted by the kindliest sentiment, yet it is a compliment that has whiin it a bitter tang.

The Rambler does not know to what age this house has attained. Its walls, its rafters and its roof are sound, and, as it is often said that a man is no older than his arteries, it might just as fairly be said of a house that it is no older than its walls and its roof. It may be that this house, like so many old men, is proud of its age, but the Rambler believes that this particular house will not asssume a resentful attitude toward him for writing that it is still a young house and that it will preserve its youth for many years to come.

George Field property and nursaries from Baist's real estate atlas of surveys of Washington, District of Columbia, 1911

George Field property and nurseries from Baist’s real estate atlas of surveys of Washington, District of Columbia, 1911

It sits far back from the street, as though it would preserve its air of exclusiveness even in this age of publicity and notoriety. This old house seems to protest against the habit which so many modern houses have fallen into, of building themselves flush with the sidewalk and perching themselves where any man may rub elbows against them or strike matches on their front. This old house, if it could get its own sentiments and convictions into the newspapers, wold probably denounce as a vulgar fashion the passion which new houses have for getting as close to the curbstone as the building regulations and inspectors will permit. This house belongs to the period when every well-mannered, dignified and properly conducted house insisted on having its own garden and rejoiced in a name instead of a number. The Rambler is violating no confidence when he assures his readers that this old house, comfortably seated in its own grounds, feels pity, with just a trifle of disdain, for those misguided houses which stand up in a row, all so near alike that their sole distinguishing mark is a number on their transom or the door.

The house has a central building flanked on each side with a wing. It has a plenitude of porches, and the porches have width, length and iron railings. Above the roof rises a lookout or a little observation tower. Many trees grow around the house. Its lot is of about the size of a city square and the northwest corner is covered with a rose garden. This garden, with its wealth of bloom and color, has given pleasure to countless wayfarers along the old 7th street road. At the north side of the house and at its rear are glasshouses, in which live flowers of rarity and beauty. (more…)

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