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Door To Door: Tenleytown And LeDroit Park, D.C.

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A street view of LeDroit Park in Washington, D.C.
Rachael Schuster
A street view of LeDroit Park in Washington, D.C.

It's our weekly trip around the region. This week, we visit Tenleytown and LeDroit Park in Northwest D.C.

Tenleytown, D.C.

Lauren Case, 45, and her husband were not looking to move when they relocated to Tenleytown in 1999.

"My husband and I were living in Dupont Circle and loving it there, not really ready to move," Case says. "But we saw this house, and a friend of ours lived in this neighborhood, so we sort of fell in love with this house and the rest is history."

Tenleytown is bounded on the north by Friendship Heights, to the east by North Cleveland Park, and the west by American University Park.

"It is between Massachusetts and Wisconsin Avenues," Case explains. "The Tenleytown Metro stop is about three blocks away, so it's upper Northwest."

Tenleytown's accessibility is just one of the things that attracted Case and many others to the area.

"Being able to walk around, having your kids know how to navigate the Metro and buses; access to parks and all that D.C. has to offer is just really great," Case explains. "I think the neighborhood has gotten more popular."

Trees line the suburban streets of Tenelytown, casting shadows on the brick and stone from homes that ensconce each block. When asked what her favorite part of the neighborhood is, Case could not resist mentioning the local flora, along with the sense of community in Tenleytown.

"My favorite part is the maple tree in my neighbor's front yard, particularly in the fall." Case explains. "But I think just the people and the sense of commodore that we have in this neighborhood and looking out for each other."

With American University in the heart of Tenleytown, the neighborhood is home to many college students, but Case says not to write off the neighborhood as just a college town.

"You have people who have lived here for a long, long time." Case explains that there is a multiplicity of ages in Tenleytown. "You have a lot of families with kids of all ages ranging from infants to toddlers, elementary school, middle school, high school, and then kids that have gone on to college."

Tenleytown features top-rated public and private school, and easy access to community centers, parks and a library, which makes it an ideal place for families to raise children.

"If you want to live in a neighborhood where you have access to public transportation, access to great schools, and to all the great things that D.C. has to offer," Case enthusiastically explains. "Then this neighborhood is for you."

LeDroit Park, D.C.

Over recent years, Eric Fidler, 28, has watched his neighborhood of LeDroit Park slowly being restored back to the prominent place that it was in the early twentieth century.

"The three-and-a-half years that I've lived here, I've seen numerous houses that were vacant or run down, renovated and repaired," explains Fidler.

These repairs also include the $29 million renovation to the historic Howard Theater, where the voices of Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Buddy Holly, and Lena Horne have graced the stage.

Fidler elaborates, "The Howard Theater was just renovated and it's beautiful, especially at night, to walk home after work or class -- it looks almost magical."

The first thing you notice about LeDroit Park is its eclectic homes with flavors of Italian, Spanish, French, and Victorian architecture serving as their muse.

"All the houses are unique and you won't find them anywhere else in the city," says Fidler.

The second thing you notice is the rich history of LeDroit Park that is still apparent to this day. "I think the more I research its history, the more I realize that it actually plays a very important role in African American history in the United States."

"LeDroit Park was founded in the 1870s and started as an exclusively white neighborhood," says Fidler, integrated around the turn of the century LeDroit Park "became notable as the home to Washington's black intelligentsia and a lot of notable people lived here."

Distinguished residents include activist Mary Church Terrell, jazz legend Duke Ellington, and poet laureate Paul Lawrence Dunbar.

"It's the people who lived here, you research it and you find that there were people here who were doing protests and sit-ins long before the Civil Rights movement- they were really ahead of their time," he explains.

Fidler serves as vice president of LeDroit Park's civic association, providing him with many opportunities to meet people in the community.

"I know a lot of my neighbors, and I like the fact that there are a lot of friendly people here," explains Fidler.

LeDroit Park has flourished into a diverse neighborhood, a far cry from its segregated roots.

"There are people who have houses that are over a million dollars, and then we also have public housing, it's a pretty diverse community."

[Music: "No, Girl" by John Davis from Title Tracks / "Hot'n'Cold (Bimbo Jones Instrumental)" by Katy Perry from Hot'n'Cold (Dance Remixes)]

Photos: Door to Door


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