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1892 Survey Map

HISTORY

What is now the neighborhood of Edgewood was originally outside the boundaries of Washington City and was part of Washington County, Maryland, the first county in the U.S. to be named for the Revolutionary War general (and later President) George Washington.

Edgewood was originally part a 30-acre farmland estate called Metropolis View, which was purchased by Salmon P. Chase in 1863.

Salmon Portland Chase (1808-1873) was an American politician, jurist, and abolitionist who worked defending escaped slaves including arguing the constitutionality of fugitive slave laws before the U.S. Supreme Court.  He was elected as a U.S. Senator from Ohio on the Free Soil Party ticket (1849-1855) and was the pre-eminent champion of anti-slavery.  He then became the 23rd Governor of Ohio where he supported women’s rights and public education.  On March 7, 1861 he became the U.S. Treasury Secretary under Abraham Lincoln, which brought him to Washington and it was during his tenure that he purchased the Metropolis View estate.

The estate lay east of St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery (1862), Prospect Hill, a German-American Cemetery (1858), and Glenwood Cemetery (1854) where many notable Congressmen and artists such as Constantino Brumidi, who painted the frescoes inside the Capitol dome, and Emanuel Leutze, painter of Washington Crossing the Delaware are buried.

Salmon Chase acquired an additional twenty acres of land nearby and built a mansion naming the newly expanded estate Edgewood for its location on the edge of the woods.

Edgewood Manor was built high on a hill overlooking the city with Lincoln Avenue to the west and an east-west road connection into the estate.  The manor included a circular drive with the large house in the Federal or Adams style.  The house was two-storied with a full-width porch on the first floor and a central door leading to a large balcony on the second.  Three dormers and four symmetrically placed shuttered windows on each floor finished the ensemble.

Salmon Chase owned the estate during his subsequent tenure as Chief Justice of the United States (1864-1873) until his death in 1873 at which time his daughter moved onto the estate with her three daughters, Ethel, Kitty, and Portia.  Known as an intelligent beauty and nicknamed “the Belle of the North” in her youth, a rocky marriage led to a reclusive life at Edgewood until her death in 1899.  On her death, the New York Times wrote that "the homage of the most eminent men in the country was hers" and the Washington Post called her "The most brilliant woman of her day. None outshone her."

By the 1890’s the Metropolitan Branch Line of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad had been built east of the estate and was being used by commuters accessing weekend and summer homes.  As the frequency of the trains increased, city residents considered residing full time in what had been considered “the country”.  At this time, much of the Edgewood estate was platted for residential purposes.  The streets were named in the District’s alphabetical fashion, though the streets of Bryant, Channing, Douglas and Evarts were named after cities and were called Baltimore, Cincinnati, Detroit, Emporia and Frankfort.

In the mid-1900’s the manor made way for the St. Vincent Orphanage Asylum and Catholic School to the south and later to the Edgewood Terrace Apartments to the north.

The neighborhood today enjoys both modern conveniences and its links to the past.  The historic hilltop cemeteries are filled with blooms in the spring and greenery in the summer.  The architecture includes art deco apartments and DC vernacular row homes.  A commercial district of local and national retailers services the area and along the historic Metropolitan Branch Rail line today is located a Metro station and a new biking and walking trail.

Compiled by Heather Deutsch, Edgewood Resident; Edited by Michael J. Henderson, Edgewood Resident

Edgewood Manor

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Edgewood Map 1890

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St.  Vincent's Orphan Asylum

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