“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
American University Park in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

On the Circle

Top of the Town


— Tenleytown Heritage Trail —

On the Circle Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, March 19, 2011
1. On the Circle Marker
Click on the image to examine it closely.
Inscription.  In the 1930s city engineers created Tenley Circle where commuters heading cross-town or downtown changed streetcars. Across the street and to the left of Tenley Circle, a surviving strip of historic Grant Road meets Wisconsin Avenue. In the 1890s, the two-story, stucco structure on that corner was John and Rebecca O’Day’s feed store, stocking everything from hay to kerosene for area farmers. After 1915 it became “Doc” Scholl’s pharmacy, a popular spot for soldiers training nearby at Camp American University during World War I. When “Doc” Gauley took over during the roaring ’20s, the “Tenleytown Special” sundae was a soda fountain favorite. Since the 1940s restaurants on this spot have served everything from corned beef to cannolis. The stucco building remains the oldest commercial building still standing in Tenleytown.

Directly across the circle is Wisconsin Avenue Baptist Church. Founded as Mount Tabor Baptist Church in 1880, it first occupied land donated by parishioner Mary Burrows at 4620 Wisconsin Avenue. When the city widened the avenue in 1924, nearly erasing its lot, the church moved.
On the Circle Marker, Reverse image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, March 19, 2011
2. On the Circle Marker, Reverse
This building is its third home.

The handsome stone structure on the rise behind you was the Seminary of Our Lady Immaculate, established in 1905 by the Sisters of Providence. Immaculata offered a first-rate education to a “select” female student body. After 80 years, as girls increasingly rejected religious single-sex education, the sisters announced the school’s closing. Immaculata sold this campus to nearby American University in 1987.

(Marker reverse, same on all markers in this series)
Tenelytown’s story begins with Native American footpaths that crossed at the highest natural elevation in what became Washington, DC. European settlers broadened the paths into roads, and in the late 1700s the enterprising John Tennally opened a tavern at the intersection of today’s Wisconsin Avenue and River Road. Soon a community known as Tennallytown surrounded the tavern. Until the early 1880s Tennallytown remained a village amid rural Washington County, where about a dozen tightly knit and often inter-married families dominated daily life. Then modern transportation made Tenleytown easily accessible to downtown and pushed it into the 20th century.

Top of the Town: Tenleytown Heritage Trail shows you where, during the Civil War, the Union Army created Fort Reno. See where a mostly African American community grew up on—and
Seminary of Our Lady Immaculate image. Click for full size.
By Tom Fuchs, March 19, 2011
3. Seminary of Our Lady Immaculate
eventually was erased from—the grounds of the old fort. Discover traces of Tenleytown’s rural past. Witness the neighborhood’s important role in both world wars. And discover where legendary TV and radio personalities got their starts.

Top of the Town: Tenleytown Heritage Trail is an Official Washington, DC Walking Trail. The self-guided tour of 19 signs, just under three miles, offers about two hours of gentle exercise.

Top of the Town: Tenleytown Heritage Trail, a free booklet capturing the trail’s highlights, is available in both English and Spanish language editions at local businesses and institutions along the way. To learn about other DC neighborhoods, please visit

Top of the Town: Tenleytown Heritage Trail is produced by Linda Donavan Harper, Alisha Bell, Laura Brower, Mara Cherkasky, Sarah Fairbrother, Helen Gineris, Elizabeth Goldberg, Carmen Harris, Pamela Jafari, Jane Freundel Levey, Akilah Luke, Yillah Rosenfeld, Leon Seemann, Frank Stewart, and Pat Wheeler of Cultural Tourism DC in collaboration with the District Department of Transportation, the Washington Convention and Sports Authority, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Tenleytown Neighbors Association, the Tenleytown Historical Society, and the Tenleytown Heritage Trail Working Group. Special thanks
Baptist Church image. Click for full size.
By Tom Fuchs, March 19, 2011
4. Baptist Church
to Working Group Chair Carolyn Long and Historian Carole Abrams Kolker, and Working Group Members Pat Morders Armbruster, Ed Ashe, Lynn Bergfalk, Cheryl Browning, L.S. "Bill" Chamberlain, Jr., Rev. Dr. Ronald Conner, Gerald Cooke, B.F. Cooling, Jennifer Harry Cullen, Harriet Dwinell, Kenneth Faulstich, Fred Gore, Jean Gore, Frank Haendler Jason Hegy, Sherry Houghton, Donald J. Hunter, Susan Jaquet, Deborah Jaquiss, James Johnston, Karol "Noonie" Keane, Mary Alice and Richard Levine, Aaron Lloyd, South T. Lynn, Bernard McDermott, Jean M. Pablo, the late Matt Pavuk, Dick Randall, Kathryn Ray, Chris Schumann, Sterling Scroggins, Carolyn Sherman, Diane Tamayo, Marvin Tievsky, Rhoda Trooboff, Jane Waldmann, Cathy Wiss, and Doug Wonderlic.

Thank you also to ANCs 3E and 3F, Jim Anderson, Jean Bathurst, Brian Bowers, Yvonne Carignan, Jane Charter, Dustin Davis, John and Linda Derrick, James Embrey, Kathleen Franz, Pamela Gardner, Matt Glassman, Nicole Goldman, Mark Greek, Ashley Hair, Jeannette Harper, Ron Harvey, Faye Haskins, Mary Herbert, Judith Helm, Bill Jarrett, Joel Kemelhor, Maryanne Ball Kendall, Brian Kraft, Susan and Greg Lewis, Camille Martone, Lisa McCarty, Susan McElrath, Alison McWilliams, Eda Offutt, Elvi Moore, Anne Manoukian Page, Eddy Palanzo, Lewis Parker, Khalim Piankhi, Brian Porto, Bill Reeves, Priscilla D. Ricker, Nelson Rimensnyder, Donna Burrows
"Two-story, stucco structure" at Wisconsin and Grant, today a laundry. image. Click for full size.
By J. Makali Bruton, January 25, 2015
5. "Two-story, stucco structure" at Wisconsin and Grant, today a laundry.
Rose, Kathryn S. Smith, Barbara D. Tate, Barry Tillman, Rebecca Trachtman, Emma Byrum Weaver, Hayden Wetzel, Jerry Wheat, and Bruce Yarnall.

Photo of Fort Reno Park water towers (1928) on each sign appears courtesy, The Washington Post.
(Marker shows a copyright dated 2010.) Design by Karol A. Keane Design, Map by Bowring Cartographic.

Erected 2010 by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 14.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Tenleytown Heritage Trail marker series.
Location. 38° 56.765′ N, 77° 4.751′ W. Marker is in American University Park, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of Tenley Circle Northwest and Yuma Street Northwest, on the right when traveling south on Tenley Circle Northwest. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Washington DC 20016, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. To the Rescue (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Rest (about 700 feet away); Beer, Popcorn, and Penny Candy (about 800 feet away); A Country Road (approx. 0.2 miles away); A Spirit of Community (approx. 0.2 miles away); For the Children (approx. ¼ mile away); In Touch with the World
Wide view of the reverse of the On the Circle Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. Makali Bruton, January 25, 2015
6. Wide view of the reverse of the On the Circle Marker
(approx. ¼ mile away); Early Homes (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in American University Park.
More about this marker. There are a number of photographs on the marker.
♦ Caption of large photograph above text on the reverse (common) side of marker, “A Wisconsin Ave. streetcar leaves the boarding platform at Tenley Circle, 1938. The building at the left with the billboard is Gauley’s Tenleytown Pharmacy.”
♦ Caption of large photograph above text, “Immaculata Seminary students practice archery.”
♦ Upper right inset, “The 1903 view shows Immaculata Seminary and St. Ann’s Church before Tenley Circle was built.”
♦ Starting below, counterclockwise, “The Immaculata basketball team, 1963.”
♦ “Despite two years of protests including the one at right, Immaculata closed, holding its final graduation in 1986, ♦ below.”
♦ “Young members of Wisconsin Avenue Baptist Church, above, and a Sunday School class, 1950s” ♦ to the right.
♦ “Inside Gauley’s Pharmacy, 1939.” above.” The building is visible at the right edge of this 1950s view of the Wisconsin Ave. streetcar” ♦ on the left.
Categories. Railroads & StreetcarsRoads & Vehicles

More. Search the internet for On the Circle.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 7, 2019. This page originally submitted on October 1, 2011, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio. This page has been viewed 840 times since then and 38 times this year. Last updated on March 8, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on October 1, 2011, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio.   3, 4. submitted on October 2, 2011, by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland.   5, 6. submitted on January 25, 2015, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. • Devry Becker Jones was the editor who published this page.
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