Tenleytown / Wakefield / Connecticut Avenue (July24, 2019)
We decided to take advantage of a rare Summer evening here in DC when it was rather pleasant to be outside and headed out for a second walk, this time in the early evening. We walked up to Tenleytown to check out the Grant Road Historic District. The Historic District consists of two blocks of houses dating back to the mid-1800s. The road itself dates back to the 1700s but gained greater significance due to its proximity to Fort Reno during the Civil War. During the 1880s and 1890s it became one of the most densely developed streets in Tenleytown. The rapid expansion of the area and development of new roads in the early and mid twentieth century led to many buildings being demolished in the area. However, this segment survived and provides a visible reminder of the rural origins of this part of the District.
After walking along Grant Road, we made our way down through Wakefield toward Connecticut Avenue, passing Murch elementary school on the way. Murch was founded in 1930 but has recently undergone an extensive renovation. It has approximately 600 students. It is named after Benjamin Murch, a long time teacher and principal in District schools during the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Across from Murch is St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. The Gothic Revival church, completed in 1958 looked particularly moody with rain clouds rolling in.
With rain starting to come down, we sought shelter at Politics and Prose bookstore and walked into a book reading by Emily Nussbaum, the television critic for the New Yorker. The place was packed, as it often is for readings. It doesn’t seem that long ago that independent bookstores were being driven to extinction by the Borders and Barnes and Nobles of the world. Now those chains are also disappearing before Amazon’s quest to conquer the world and the advent of ebooks. But Politics and Prose battles on, proving that if you give the customers what they want, they will come. There is a great coffee shop downstairs that is always bustling. The store itself is busy pretty much all of the time. Hopefully, these are good signs that the store will be with us for many years to come.
Just down the block is Comet Ping Pong, a pizzeria with three ping pong tables in the back that get regular play. The restaurant is also a concert venue, showcasing local and lesser known national bands. Comet hit national and international headlines in late 2016 when several websites and online forums falsely implicated the restaurant as a part of a supposed child trafficking ring. Responding to these accusations, a gunman entered the restaurant and fired three rounds from a semi-automatic rifle before being arrested. Fortunately, no-one was injured. The gunman was sentenced to four years imprisonment in 2017.