Home > About Us > Friends of Tenleytown > Joel Odum, THS Founder

Joel Odum, THS Founder

Joel Odum (1949-2003) came to DC from Birmingham Alabama in the 1970s as part of the Carter Administration. For many years, until his death in 2003, Joel lived in a Victorian house on Van Ness Street between Wisconsin and Nebraska Avenues.

In 1986 Joel was co-founder, with Phil Mendelson and others, of the Tenley and Cleveland Park Emergency Committee which organized to fight redevelopment of the site that became 4000 Wisconsin Avenue and the related taking of the northern entrance of Glover Archbold Park for city street purposes.

Although unsuccessful in blocking the building, ultimately the new street was ripped up and the parkland preserved.

Moreover, his activism led to numerous zoning changes in the Tenley area, including downzoning much of Wisconsin Avenue and forcing the city to adopt a more meaningful Comprehensive Plan to guide future development.

Through this activism Joel came to know Tenleytown neighbors such as Jean Pablo and became one of the founders of the Tenleytown Historical Society. Joel ran as a write-in candidate against Marion Barry in the 1986 election for Mayor – and there were more Ward 3 write-in votes than were cast for Mr. Barry!

In 1990 Joel was named Tenleytown citizen of the year; In 1988, 1989, and 1990 he was listed in Regardie’s Magazine as one of the 100 “most influential people in private Washington.”

site by  carmoDynamics