Top of the Town
— Tenleytown Heritage Trail —
From 1927 until the late 1950s, the landscaped grounds across the street were the Hillcrest Children's Center. It was founded downtown in 1814 as the Washington City Orphan Asylum by Marcia Burnes VanNess and President Madison's wife Dolley. The center's Tudor style stone cottages created a village environment. In the 1960s changing social conditions led Hillcrest to move back downtown, this time in service to disabled children and their families.
The National Presbyterian Church and School, which occupy Hillcrest's former site, trace their origins to four in-town congregations. One of these dates from 1795, when stone masons working at the White House gathered for services there in a carpenters' shed. Most presidents since James Madison—and notables including Queen Elizabeth and Mother Teresa—have worshipped with the congregation.
President Lyndon Johnson's message for National Presbyterian's 1966 groundbreaking praised the church for forging "bonds which draw us together and which crumble the barriers that stand between us." In 1970 Duke Ellington told a reporter that he performed here to "praise God with music" and to raise money for the churc''s Eisenhower Memorial Arts Fund to foster harmony between religion and the arts. Along with its soaring carillon tower, the church boasts a main sanctuary that seats 1,260, and dramatic walks and gardens. It is the third largest religious center in Washington, after the Washington Cathedral and the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. It was designated the national church for its denomination in 1947.
(Marker reverse, same on all markers in this series)
Tenelytown's story begins with Native American footpaths that crossed at the highestnatural elevation in what became Washington, DC. European settlers broadened the paths into roads, and in the late 1700s the enterprising John Tennally opened a tavern at the intersection of today's Wisconsin Avenue and River Road. Soon a community known as Tennallytown surrounded the tavern. Until the early 1880s Tennallytown remained a village amid rural Washington County, where about a dozen tightly knit and often inter-married families dominated daily life. Then modern transportation made Tenleytown easily accessible to downtown andpushed it into the 20th century.
Top of the Town: Tenleytown Heritage Trail
shows you where, during the Civil War, the Union Army created Fort Reno. See where a mostly African American community grew up on—and eventually was erased from—the grounds of the old fort. Discover traces of Tenleytown's rural past. Witness the neighborhood's important role in both world wars. And discover where legendary TV and radio personalities got their starts.
Top of the Town: Tenleytown Heritage Trail
is an Official Washington, DC Walking Trail.The self-guided tour of 19 signs, just under three miles, offers about two hours of gentle exercise.
Top of the Town: Tenleytown Heritage Trail,
a free booklet capturing the trail's highlights, is available in both English and Spanish language editions at local businesses and institutions along the way. To learn about other DC neighborhoods, please visit www.CulturalTourismDC.org.
Top of the Town: Tenleytown Heritage Trail is produced by Linda Donavan Harper, Alisha Bell, Laura Brower, Mara Cherkasky, Sarah Fairbrother, Helen Gineris, Elizabeth Goldberg, Carmen Harris, Pamela Jafari, Jane Freundel Levey, Akilah Luke,Yillah Rosenfeld, Leon Seemann, Frank Stewart, and Pat Wheeler of Cultural Tourism DC in collaboration with the District Department of Transportation, the Washington Convention and Sports Authority, the U.S. Department of Transportation,the Tenleytown Neighbors Association, the Tenleytown Historical Society, and the Tenleytown Heritage Trail Working Group. Special thanks to Working Group Chair Carolyn Long and Historian Carole Abrams Kolker, and Working Group Members Pat Morders Armbruster, Ed Ashe, Lynn Bergfalk, Cheryl Browning, L.S. "Bill" Chamberlain, Jr., Rev. Dr. Ronald Conner, Gerald Cooke, B.F. Cooling, Jennifer Harry Cullen, Harriet Dwinell, Kenneth Faulstich, Fred Gore, Jean Gore, Frank Haendler Jason Hegy, Sherry Houghton, Donald J. Hunter, Susan Jaquet, Deborah Jaquiss, James Johnston, Karol "Noonie" Keane,Mary Alice and Richard Levine, Aaron Lloyd, South T. Lynn, Bernard McDermott, Jean M. Pablo, the late Matt Pavuk, Dick Randall, Kathryn Ray, Chris Schumann, Sterling Scroggins, Carolyn Sherman, Diane Tamayo, Marvin Tievsky,Rhoda Trooboff, Jane Waldmann, Cathy Wiss, and Doug Wonderlic.
Thank you also to ANCs 3E and 3F, Jim Anderson, Jean Bathurst, Brian Bowers, Yvonne Carignan, Jane Charter, Dustin Davis, John and Linda Derrick, James Embrey, Kathleen Franz, Pamela Gardner, Matt Glassman, Nicole Goldman, Mark Greek, Ashley Hair, Jeannette Harper, Ron Harvey, Faye Haskins, Mary Herbert, Judith Helm, Bill Jarrett, Joel Kemelhor,Maryanne Ball Kendall, Brian Kraft, Susan and Greg Lewis, Camille Martone, Lisa McCarty, Susan McElrath, Alison McWilliams, Eda Offutt, Elvi Moore, Anne Manoukian Page, Eddy Palanzo, Lewis Parker, Khalim Piankhi, Brian Porto, Bill Reeves, Priscilla D. Ricker, Nelson Rimensnyder, Donna Burrows Rose, Kathryn S. Smith, Barbara D. Tate, Barry Tillman, Rebecca Trachtman, Emma Byrum Weaver, Hayden Wetzel, Jerry Wheat, and Bruce Yarnall.
Photo of Fort Reno Park water towers (1928) on each sign appears courtesy, The Washington Post.
(Marker shows a copyright dated 2010.) Design by Karol A. Keane Design, Map by Bowring Cartographic.