American University Park in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Winning the War
Top of the Town
—Tenleytown Heritage Trail —
Most WAVES at this site operated cryptoanalytic equipment designed to break German and Japanese communications codes. Discussing the top-secret work with outsiders was considered an act of treason, so WAVE Elizabeth Butler could only write her family that her work was “very secret, one of the most in the Navy.” Jennifer Wilcox later said that “Breaking the Japanese code was our finest hour.”
Meanwhile the displaced Mount Vernon Seminary held classes nearby at Garfinckel’s department store on Massachusetts Avenue, and students boarded with local families. After the war ended, the Navy retained the facility, so Mount Vernon Seminary moved to Foxhall Road. In 1999 it became a campus of George Washington University.
Before the seminary arrived, this was Grassland, Nathan Loughborough’s 250-acre estate. In 1820 Loughborough, then comptroller of the U.S. Treasury, brought a lawsuit
(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 eventually was erased from—the grounds of the old fort. Discover traces of Tenleytown’s rural past. Witness
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 www.CulturalTourismDC.org.
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 to Working Group Chair Carolyn Long and Historian Carole Abrams Kolker, and Working Group Members Pat Morders Armbruster,
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 Rose, Kathryn S. Smith, Barbara D. Tate, Barry Tillman, Rebecca Trachtman, Emma Byrum Weaver, Hayden Wetzel, Jerry Wheat,
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 by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 16.)
Location. 38° 56.452′ N, 77° 5.01′ W. Marker is in American University Park, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is on Nebraska Avenue south of Van Ness Street, N.W., on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 3900 Nebraska Ave NW, Washington DC 20016, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Live on Our Stage! (within shouting distance of this marker); For the Children (approx. 0.2 miles away); American University (approx. 0.2 miles away); General Artemas Ward Monument (approx. ¼ mile away); John Wesley (approx. 0.4 miles away); To the Rescue (approx. 0.4 miles away); On the Circle (approx. 0.4 miles away); Birthplace of the Army Chemical Corps (approx. half a 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. Counterclockwise starting top left, captions read:
♦ WAVES wait to cross Nebraska Avenue in front of their temporary barracks on Mount Vernon Seminary’s campus, 1945. ♦ At left is the small projector on whose screen they studied messages and broke the Japanese code.
♦ Mount Vernon Seminary on the day the Navy announced it would move in, 1942. ♦ Some years earlier, left, students performed lab experiments.
♦ One of Georgetown Day School’s first teachers, Tony Inglis, posed with wife Claire in front of the school shortly ater it opened here.
♦ The emancipation certificate, left, applied to those enslaved at Grassland when President Lincoln ended slavery in the District in 1862.
♦ The elegant Grassland, top, home of ♦ Nathan Loughborough, right.
♦ The caption on the large photograph on the reverse (common) face of the marker reads, “Mount Vernon Seminary students enjoy a piano recital in the late 1930s.”
Categories. • Antebellum South, US • Education • War, World II •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on October 2, 2011, by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia. This page has been viewed 899 times since then and 36 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on October 2, 2011, by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia. 4. submitted on October 4, 2011, by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland. 5. submitted on December 2, 2013, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico.