Posted tagged ‘Brightwood’

The 151st Anniversary of the Battle of Fort Stevens

July 13, 2015

This past weekend marked the 151st anniversary of the Battle of Fort Stevens, the only Civil War Battle in Washington D.C. Fort Stevens is located in Brightwood, a short distance north on Georgia Avenue for anyone who hasn’t visited it. You can read more about it here.

I’ve also found the following presentation on camp life that was part of the 149th anniversary commemoration at Fort Stevens which you can watch below.

A short distance to the north of Fort Stevens is the Battleground National Cemetery, where forty soldiers who died in the Battle of Fort Stevens were buried on the evening of July 12. One additional soldier who fought in the battle was buried there in 1936.

The photos below show the Battleground National Cemetery.




Portrait of Brightwood in 1908

August 7, 2014

I’m continuing to re-post a series of articles that were originally published in the Washington Times that paint caricatures of various Washington suburbs as they were in 1908. I’ve previously posted the articles for Georgetown, Anacostia, Tenleytown, and Brookland. Today’s feature is Brightwood.

Brightwood bannerBrightwood cartoon

“Better Car Service” Is Constant Appeal of Its Inhabitants.


Weights 437 Pounds, But Isn’t at All Sensitive About Being a Prize Winner.


MORE Brightwood folks have “looped the loop” than those of any other suburb on the map.

About seven things are counted on as certain out in Brightwood each day – sun up, sun down, three meals and two “loops.”

Do not gather from this that Brighhtwood harbors a miniature Coney Island with its chutes, merry-go-roungs, mystic mazes, wild men and loop-the loops. Far be it from me to act as press agent for the village and spring a yarn like that. ‘Tis a sadder tale than this that duty bids me tell.

THE LOOP, to which I refer, and to which every Brightwoodite refers at least eighty-six time per day, is situated just to the west of the National’s ball park. Tenderly speaking, it is a place where all folks going to and from Brightwood are dumped out around a little station house and made to transfer – after waiting awhile for the next car.

Lost Without Transfer.

No man out that way feels at ease unless he has a transfer in his hand. So common are transfers in Brightwood that they are almost used for legal tender. Children cry for them and beg to loop-the-loop when they should be thinking only of leap frog and mumble-peg. Transfers are used as paper chest protectors, as lamp shades, for wall papering or to stop up the chink when the neighborhood bad boys break out the window pane.

From time immemorial, or at least from the time when the Brightwood Citizens’ Association was formed, we have been accustomed to see in the newspaper headlines:

“Brightwood Demands Through Cars to City.”

“Brightwood Demands Better Car Service.”

“Brightwood Citizens Kick on Being Dumped in Cold and Rain.”

Occasionally we would also see that Brightwood demanded better lights along its avenue, wider roads in Rock Creek Park, more sewers, and a few other things.

Whereat we have become accustomed to sympathizing with Brightwood because everybody knows that a lot of wide-awake people live out there and that the suburb itself is a delightful one – after you get there and when you get there. In inviting a friend out to dinner, however, the Brightwood citizen impresses upon you that his hospitality does not begin until after you have reached the confines of the village itself. He takes no responsibility for the street car service and the means of getting there.

Will Telephone Wife.

Mr. Bright Wood will telephone his wife as follows:

“Constance, I will bring my old college chum, Mr. Grouch, out to dinner tonight. Have something nice, will you?

Wherefore, the real head of the household will bestir herself for some hours and have a steaming repast ready at the appointed moment. After a wait of some two hours or more, perhaps she hears a familiar footstep and indignantly rushes to greet the tardy one. Two bedraggled, dispirited specimens meet her glaring gaze. There is a moment of tense silence and then she tenderly takes their dripping coats and sends the specimens themselves into the spare room to dry.

There are no words spoken. Words are not necessary for any wife would know that the car hadn’t shown up and that it rained and that hubby had “looped-the-loop” again.

No wonder therefore, that each meeting of the citizens’ association is so replete with fervid oratory that the windows have to be raised even on the coldest night, and no wonder that when you speak the name of President George H. Harries out in Brightwood you are welcomed as you would be in Ireland if you shook a red bandana handkerchief and shouted “Long live the King.” General Harries, as everybody, I presume, knows is president of the street railway company that furnishes, or fails to furnish, transportation to all the folks out Brightwood way.

Harries Often Mentioned.

General Harries’ name is conjured with at almost every meeting of the association and if it had been a punching bag would have been smashed to smithereens long ago.

While on the whole I found that the people seemed more contented out in Brightwood than I really thought they had a right to be, I located one gentleman who seemed especially delighted with everything. In reality, I believe he’s too fat to get mad. I refer to “Pop” George C. Mountcastle, proprietor of that famous hostelry “Old Brightwood Hotel” and also proprietor of 437 pounds of good, hard flesh.

“Pop” is a character in whose company one might spend many a joyous hour. He says he’s also nick-named “Beefy,” but I didn’t hear the boys call him anything but “Pop,” especially when they wanted to borrow a half-dollar or stand off the bar-keep for a round.

Well, anyway, “Pop” isn’t sensitive about his weight and about the first thing he asked me and before I could ask him anything, he inquired, gently: “How much do you think I weigh?”

Not wishing to offend and yet desiring my ability to size up the cubic feet in almost any mountain, I chirped. “Oh, about 325.” (more…)

Historical Society of Washington, D.C.’s Urban Photography Series 2013 Neighborhoods

October 4, 2013

Earlier this year, I participated in the Historical Society of Washington’s Urban Photography series as a tour guide. The purpose of the tours was to explore one neighborhood in each of Washington’s 8 Wards and create a photographic record of that community today. These photographs have been added to the Historical Society’s collection and will be useful to future scholars writing about our city.

It is hoped that the Urban Photography Series will occur annually and eventually document every corner of the District of Columbia. Below is a video that the HSWDC put together that will give you a taste of was was accomplished this year.


Policing Washington’s Suburbs (in 1906)

September 29, 2011

Mounted D.C. Policeman, 1906

Living in the area north of Florida Avenue and east of Rock Creek Park today, one often forgets that these were once considered suburbs of Washington in every sense of the word. As the City grew additional services were needed … including a stronger focus on public safety and additional police. To meet this need, the Tenth Police Precinct was created by chief Major Sylvester and moved into its new station house at 750 Park Road in 1901.

The boundaries of the Tenth Precinct, as described in the 1910 U.S. Census, were as follows: The area bounded by the District line [north], Queens Chapel Road NE, Eighteenth Street NE, Brentwood Road, T Street, First Street NW, Channing Street, College Street extended, College Street, Barry Place extended, Barry Place, Florida Avenue, Q Street, and Rock Creek.

In its early days, much of the Tenth Precinct was still undeveloped and rural. Below is a somewhat lengthy account I found in The Washington Times, April 29, 1906, Magazine Section and have reposted below titled “A Night with a Mounted Policeman.” Keeping in mind that it was written in 1906 and reflects that time, I still think it paints a picture of this part of the City that would be very foreign to many of us now.

Below is the article in full:

It was now almost daybreak and while the officer would not be relieved from duty until 8 o’clock, his work as a guardian of the peace while others slept was virtually at an end.

It was not a very strenuous night, as nights with the mounted police are accounted, but there was sufficient variety in it to heighten The Times man’s respect for the men who comprise this seldom thought of but very essential branch of the public service of the Capital City.

The Adventures of a Sunday Times Representative, Who Accompanied On Horseback One of the Men Who Patrol the Lonely Outlying Sections of the City Between Sunset and Daylight.

It Is 10 o’clock at night. Outside the wind is sweeping in gale-like gusts around the corners of the house. Now and then there are penetrating showers of rain, which grow more and more frequent, until a steady downpour is heard on the roof. The fire burning in the grate serves the double purpose of giving an atmosphere of cheeriness to the room and dispelling the early spring rawness in the air. How comfortable it is to sit in your own home and read for an hour or more before the sound of the falling rain gives you an irresistible invitation to go to sleep! (more…)

Georgia Avenue Walmart Hits Snag

September 14, 2011

Brightwood Car Barn before it became Curtis Chevrolet

Though a little bit further north than things I usually post about, I’m sure there is enough interest and/or concern about Walmart that readers will also want to know about this.

Yesterday, Washington City Paper’s Lydia DePillis alerted readers that the Brightwood Neighborhood Preservation Association has submitted a landmark application for the Car Barn that now sits on the site of the Walmart planned for upper Georgia Avenue.

This is sure to throw a monkey wrench in Walmart’s development plans for the site. As with most landmark nominations, until the Historic Preservation Review Board has a chance to consider the case, the property will be treated as if it already has landmark statue.

In short, this will prevent immediate demolition of the structure.


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