Historic Tenleytown (also spelled “Tennallytown” and “Tenallytown” on older maps) in Northwest Washington, DC grew from an unincorpated 18th century village to a thriving neighborhood that includes modern Tenleytown as well as the areas now known as American University Park and Friendship Heights.
Tenleytown, Washington, D.C.’s second oldest village, was originally part of a sizable tract of land called “Friendship,” named in recognition of the amicable relationship between the two grantees.
The Frederick Road (today’s Belt Road) had long been a north/south route through the village and River Road was laid out in the 1780’s. A 1791 survey of River Road shows Tennally’s Tavern at the intersection of River Road and what is today Wisconsin Avenue. The village of Tenleytown grew – very slowly – around the intersection, taking its name from this local landmark.
The Civil War brought troops and the construction of Fort Reno. At war’s end Tenleytown reverted to a rural village. The platting of Reno City in 1869 and subsequent home building there by both whites and freed slaves, as well as an influx of German immigrants responding to advertisements for cheap land, began the transition to a more populous community. Fort Reno was demolished and the reservoir was built on its site. Electric streetcars arrived in 1890 providing easier access to downtown, but it was only in the second and third decades of the 20th century that residential development led to the densely populated area we experience today.
Those these waves of development dramatically changed the landscape of “Tennallytown,” a number of buildings and neighborhoods remain as visual reminders of the area’s history.