Wednesday, June 29, 2011

William Tecumseh Sherman owned the land where DCUSA stands

Click the maps for a bigger version

The other day, DCRA (via their Twitter) clued me into to some cool old maps they have on their Flickr page that show the intersection of 14th and Irving (then called Kennesaw Avenue) in 1868, 1869 and 1887. The area is called John Sherman's Subdivision, as he owned the land.

Sherman was a US senator at the time he bought and subdivided the land and was the brother of Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman, who led the famous March to the Sea. John later became Secretary of Treasury under Rutherford B. Hayes and Secretary of State under William McKinley.

The 1868 map is interesting for the street names: Park Road west of 14th is "Road to Pierce's Mill," which still stands in Rock Creek Park, while east of 14th it's Rock Creek Church Road, which exists today but ends farther east.

The 1869 map shows the purchase of the area northwest of the intersection, but also includes a note on the lot on the northwest corner 14th and Irving that reads "Lieut. Gen. W. T. Sherman," and the lot to the north says "Hon. John Sherman." Pretty cool, a famous general and his brother the Secretary of State owned what is today DCUSA.

Then to the south there's a note for "Columbia College Property," just south of "Georgetown and Rock Creek Church Road," which went at an angle to the southeast. Columbia College moved to Foggy Bottom and became GW, and some of today's street names in the area reflect its presence, like University Place and the various college-named streets like Kenyon, Harvard, Hobart (and former names like Yale and Princeton). And I think Kennesaw Avenue might have been named in honor of the Civil War Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, where Sherman led the Union. Oddly though, the Confederates won that battle.

Then in the 1887 map, the area is fairly developed, with a lot more houses. It appears that somebody else owns the land at the corner of 14th and Irving (which is still Kennesaw). Road to Pierce's Mill is called Park Road, but Park Road east of 14th is called Whitney.

Thanks to DCUSA for posting these and letting me know about them!

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