Transcripts

Making Peace With The Specters In Your Home

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

00:00:03
And now we move from Capitol Hill to Crestwood. You might recall we visited this neighborhood not too long ago on our "Door To Door" segment and spoke with Ellen Kassoff-Gray.

MS. ELLEN KASSOFF-GRAY

00:00:12
It's a new-old neighborhood because so many people are realizing the houses back here and scooping them up and renovating them.

SHEIR

00:00:20
Jonna McKone went back to Crestwood to talk with Kassoff-Gray and other residents about the spooky stories behind the place they call home.

MS. JONNA MCKONE

00:00:28
Clustered between 16th Street and the east side of Rock Creek Park is a neighborhood chalk full of some of Washington's most storied homes. It's called Crestwood, a development that dates back about 100 years following the extension of 16th Street and the construction of streetcar lines.

MR. DAVID SWERDLOFF

00:00:44
Some of the homes are quite grand, the ones that were built very early on around 1910 for some rather rich folks.

MCKONE

00:00:52
That's David Swerdloff, a long-time Crestwood resident who wrote a 133-page history of the neighborhood. He says the area really started to take off in the 1930s when a man named Paul Stone came in and began work on a big development of large single-family homes.

SWERDLOFF

00:01:07
And then the Crestwood development itself, those homes are also very, very gracious. Some of these houses are really something you do want to treasure and in some cases, you might think, yes, they own you because it is -- these houses that are the prominent part of the neighborhood and you're just there keeping them up.

MCKONE

00:01:24
Gale Black is president of the Crestwood Citizen's Association and the ANC commissioner for the area. She says the neighborhood and its stately homes have long appealed to prominent residents.

MS. GALE BLACK

00:01:34
And when they were advertising Crestwood, they defined it as an oasis in the city. It is, in fact, very quiet. You wouldn't expect to find a suburban area with large detached homes on wooded lots right in the heart of the city.

MCKONE

00:01:50
The homes that lend themselves to seclusion and, at one point, exclusion.

BLACK

00:01:55
Like most of D.C., Crestwood had a history that involved segregated housing. The Paul Stone development began with covenants, which of course, were declared illegal in -- I think around 1954. Those would bar residents like myself, I'm an African-American, from residing here.

MCKONE

00:02:17
The covenants also excluded Jewish residents, but today, Crestwood is a diverse mix of people, especially when you add in a few lingering personalities.

KASSOFF-GRAY

00:02:26
We are pretty sure that he still exists here today. We've seen some evidence of his presence.

MCKONE

00:02:32
That's Ellen Kassoff-Gray. She's talking about the ghost of Robert Newton. He was a prominent Crestwood resident who lived in her home with his family. A man who loved a good party and Gray says he still makes his presence known, especially during events at her house.

KASSOFF-GRAY

00:02:48
We heard a very distinguished knocking at the door from the inside. See, it gave me goosebumps again. It freaks me out. He's going to come around tonight just because I'm talking about him. He's very friendly, not freaky at all. I mean, well, it's freaky just because he's a ghost, but he just does things to let us know of his presence and it just reminds us that it's his house.

MCKONE

00:03:07
Kassoff-Gray isn't the only one with these sorts of stories. Gale Black has also experienced some strange things in her own home.

BLACK

00:03:15
And this -- I know people will think, she's out of her mind. If I move something on a bookshelf, sometimes I'll come back and I find it's been moved and there's no wind or anything else that would account for that.

MCKONE

00:03:25
Black is looking at a Crestwood directory from 1949. Her home was owned then by a man named Colonel Kirk Metzeroff (sp?) .

BLACK

00:03:32
Apparently, the history or the reputation of the person who had been here before was a very rigid taskmaster. So it makes me wonder did the colonel say, no, the book should not be where it is.

MCKONE

00:03:42
But Black says she's happy to share her home with its previous resident.

BLACK

00:03:46
Sometimes I must admit I feel the presence of some of the original owners. It's a good feeling, though. I think they would be happy with the way Crestwood has turned out.

MCKONE

00:03:55
So happy that they're perfectly content to stick around and remind the current residents of this historic neighborhood that it's still their home, too. I'm Jonna McKone.

SHEIR

00:04:09
To see photos of some of Crestwood's grand houses and to learn about the history of the neighborhood, visit our website, metroconnection.org.
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