DC Heritage Trails: Roads to Diversity: Adams Morgan Heritage Trail:
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- TRR2D_090906_01.JPG: Roads to Diversity
Adams Morgan Heritage Trail
12 Kalorama Triangle
You are standing in the Kalorama Triangle Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1987. Most of its elaborate houses were built between 1888 and 1930 in what was then the "Washington Heights" subdivision. They survive as a fine collection of Washington rowhouse styles.
The word Kalorama (from the Greek for "beautiful view") comes from the 30-acre estate here above Rock Creek named by poet and diplomat Joel Barlow. He purchased Kalorama in 1807 upon President Thomas Jefferson's urging. Jefferson called the estate "a most lovely seat" with "superb house and gardens."
Kalorama was among a handful of such estates here through the 1880s. Then electric streetcars arrived. In 1891 the Rock Creek gorge was bridged at the site of today's Duke Ellington Bridge and in 1897 the Columbia Road streetcar line opened. Like today, new transportation led to development. Around 1915 Colonel George Truesdell divided his Managassett estate to build the elegant Mendota and Altamont apartments nearby on 20th Street and Wyoming Avenue. The Woodward family of Woodward & Lothrop department stores razed their mansion to build 2101 Connecticut Avenue. Kalorama Park, just down the hill from this sign, was once the estate of John Little, whose house survived until the 1920s.
Between 1902 and 1905 alone, builders constructed more than 100 handsome rowhouses in Kalorama Triangle. Architect B. Stanley Simmons and developer Franklin Sanner collaborated on the Romanesque houses ahead on Mintwood Place, considered one of Kalorama's most picturesque streets. Favorite architectural styles included Tudor Revival (1850 Mintwood), Colonial Revival (1848 Biltmore), Spanish Revival (1852 Biltmore), and Romanesque Revival (1853 Mintwood).
- TRR2D_090906_07.JPG: Roads to Diversity
Adams Morgan Heritage Trail
13 "Best Addresses"
Dubbed "best addresses" by historian James Goode, the grand apartments of the Kalorama Triangle are among the city's earliest. The Mendota (1901) located at 2220 20th, is the city's oldest intact luxury apartment house. The Wyoming (1905_1911), ahead of you on Columbia road, and the Altamont (1915) over your right shoulder, offered elaborate fašades, elegant lobbies, and spacious units of more than 2,000 square feet. Many buildings boasted swimming pools, beauty parlors, servants' quarters, sleeping porches, and rare early elevators, dishwashers, clothes dryers, and air conditioners.
These elaborate buildings filled quickly. Thirty Mendota residents appeared in the 1910 Elite List, Washington's social register. By 1918, there were 48. Not all who lived here were wealthy, of course, but many were notable. A man who would be president, Dwight Eisenhower, once lived at the Wyoming, a former president, William Howard Taft, as well as General John J. Pershing and entertainer Lena Horne, resided at 2029 Connecticut Avenue.
Shortly after these buildings opened, some tenants became concerned about rising rents and the question of who would live next door. So they established co-operative ownership. In Adams Morgan, the Netherlands at 1860 Columbia Road was the first to convert in 1920. During World War II, DC rents topped those in all other American cities, leading to more conversions. The Altamont went co-op in 1949, followed by the Mendota in 1952, and 2029 Connecticut Avenue in 1977. The Wyoming converted in 1982, was designated a historic landmark after community groups prevented its demolition for a proposed expansion of the Washington Hilton.
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