Top of the Town
— Tenleytown Heritage Trail —
The brick building across the street opened in 1928 as theConvent of Bon Secours (literally, "good help"). The convent's sisters had arrived in Baltimore from France in 1881. In Baltimore they quietly nursed both wealthy and needy patients in their homes. Soon after the sisters moved to Tenleytown in 1905, they aided the community during the frequent typhoid and influenza epidemics. Neighbors remember the exquisite lace and other handwork the sisters created in their spare time.
As people turned to hospitals for nursing care, the sisters explored expanding their convent for on-site care, but lacked the necessary resources. So they sold their building to the Embassy of France. The French International School held classes here in the late 1960s, followed by the all-girls Oakcrest School. In 2010 the Yuma Study Center planned to occupy the old convent, a city Historic Landmark since 2004.
Hidden from view to your right is Dunblane, one of the last remaining estate houses in Tenleytown. The Greek Revival style country retreat was built in the early 1800s. When fox hunting grew fashionable later that century, the house hosted the elite Dumblane Hunt (the name has two spellings). Eventually the grounds were sold for Immaculata Seminary, and the old mansion was adapted for elementary school classes. Today American University's Tenley Campus enjoys the mansion and these historic grounds.
Ahead on your left is St. Ann's Church, a Tenleytown institution dating back to 1866. This building, dedicated in 1948 as the church's third on this site, is a fine example of the magnificent urban Roman Catholic parish churches built between 1900 and the Great Depression of the 1930s.
(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.