Friday, April 25, 2008

Tenleytown Receives Historic Treatment

The District of Columbia Historic Preservation Review Board voted unanimously to support the multi-property nomination covering old Tenleytown - Tenleytown, Friendship Heights and American University Park - providing a historical context for pre-suburban development, suburbanization, institutional growth, commercial development and the Fort Reno Reservoir was approved. This action does not provide any specific protection to listed properties, but rather provides background for future nominations. After adopting the multiple listing document, the HPRB accepted two specific sites into the DC Register of Historic Sites:

Eldbrooke United Methodist Church
Architect: Howard W. Cutler
Builder: C. H. Brooks
Built: 1926


Eldbrooke United Methodist Church, now owned by The City Church - DC, has been central to the history of Tenleytown since its establishment in 1840. The handsome 1926 Spanish Colonial Revival building, situated at the corner of River Road and Murdock Mill Road adjacent to the Sears Building in Tenleytown, is the fourth Methodist church building on this site. The first church, called Mount Zion Methodist, was erected in 1840 and was rebuilt after the Civil War. A larger church was built there in 1899, and the name was changed to Eldbrooke, honoring community members Aquila Eld and Philip Brooke.

The church is constructed of steel and tile, with a red tile roof and textured stucco exterior. All of the exterior ornamentation is cast cement. The roof retains its original red tiles. The gabled fa├žade is ornamented with a bas-relief in the multi-curved Spanish Baroque style. A square bell tower is attached to the front southeast corner of the building. The sanctuary contains numerous stained glass windows donated by and in memory of church members.


The Methodist Cemetery
Architect: N/A
Builder: N/A
Built: est. 1855


In 1855 twelve Tenleytown men purchased land along Murdock Mill Road and established The Methodist Cemetery. The twelve represented many of the founding families of Tenleytown and it is believed that their purchase of the land formalized a use already in practice. Though most of the founders were also members of the adjacent Mount Zion Methodist Church (Eldbrooke United Methodist), the cemetery has always been independently owned and maintained, a fact that distinguishes it from contemporary cemeteries. In the mid-nineteenth century, burials customarily were on private land or in church affiliated cemeteries.

The cemetery's proximity to Fort Reno made it an attractive campsite for soldiers. The cemetery is the final resting place of many of Tenleytown's early residents. It is owned and maintained by The Methodist Cemetery Association whose members are descendants of the 'Tenleytown Twelve.'


- Tenleytown Historical Society

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